News & Events

Olivier de Schutter, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has become an Ambassador for the Open Food Network

Olivier de Schutter,  former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food recently announced  that he is proud to be an Open Food Network (OFN) ambassador. In voicing his support for OFN, De Shutter notes that he has been working on food issues for more than 10 years.  He notes that throughout that time he arrived at 3 ‘rules’:

  1. Consume local as much as possible,
  2. For distant products,  focus on fair trade which pays producers fairly and supports local communities,
  3. As much as possible, choose fresh products that are cooked at home versus processed foods

De Schutter notes that the Open Food Network globally offers a “digital highway” that enables different eaters and producers  in a given territory to connect and build initiatives together and support food sovereignty.  He notes that in the digital era,  such tools are essential for alternative food systems to develop.

FLEdGE Researchers Host Partners to Prepare a CIHR Climate Change and Food Security in the North Proposal

June 2019

By Andrew Spring and Kelly Skinner

Following the 2018 call for a CIHR Team Grant addressing Food Security and Climate Change in the North, our FLEdGE NWT Node team came together with other northern food researchers and community partners to develop a Letter of Intent (LOI) in October 2018. Led by Kelly Skinner (UWaterloo), Sonia Wesche (UOttawa) and Andrew Spring (Laurier and FLEdGE NWT Node Leader), the LOI brought together multiple partners in the NWT, including those involved in FLEdGE-supported projects to further community-led initiatives to address issues of food security and climate change adaptation. On February 19th, 2019, we heard that the LOI was successful, and a $15,000 development grant was secured to put together the full application by April 4th, 2019.

John B. Zoe speaks to the group about Indigenous governace perspectives. (Photo: Stephanie Woodworth)
John B. Zoe speaks to the group about Indigenous governace perspectives. (Photo: Stephanie Woodworth)

Supported by our successful development grant and leveraged funds, our team met from March 24th-26th, 2019 in Waterloo, Ontario for a research planning workshop. Thirty-four people attended the workshop including community members, government decision-makers from the NWT, and academics and students from five universities. The goal of the workshop was to:

  • Share existing knowledge and identify core areas of research focus based on community partner priorities
  • Discuss the potential to leverage current and future research projects
  • Understand the existing governance context and key related initiatives from the Government of the NWT (GNWT)
  • Work together to conceptualize and develop the approaches and activities outlined in this full proposal

This event was also a gathering of FLEdGE-funded graduate students from different institutions. Students from Laurier, Carlton, Waterloo and Ottawa Universities were able to participate and share their past, current and proposed research with the group.

For more information about the on-going work in Northwest Territories visit


June 2019 

By Maggie Mills 

The Canadian Association of Food Studies 2019 Conference was hosted at University of British Columbia’s beautiful Vancouver campus at the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCanadian and international scholars came together to discuss all things food, from community engagement to agriculture and power dynamics within research and food. Many researchers from across the FLEdGE network presented their research projects and findings at various sessions throughout the conference.  

The conference kicked off with a book launch for the recently released edited collection Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance This book was edited and authored by researchers throughout the FLEdGE network and includes internationaexamples of how social movements can transform food systems. Select contributors participated in two panel discussions to highlight their work and offer multiple insights on community engagement and food system governance.  


Andrew Spring, Research Associate at Wilfrid Laurier University, and Laine Young, Laurier PhD Candidate, participated in a panel on sustainable agriculture. While their research projects vary in terms of context, they both work with food insecure communities to improve local agricultural practicesOne of the projects Andrew is involved with works toward creating a garden in a small community in the Northwest Territories.  While Laine, is partnering with an urban agriculture organization in Quito, Ecuador to assess their grassroots work through a feminist lens. Both Andrew and Laine examined the successes of these initiatives and the obstacles associated with local food movements. They find that while strides have been made, larger societal issues need to be addressed if we want a just, functional, sustainable food system. 


Alison Blay-Palmer, FLEdGE Principal Investigator and Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, and Kent MullinixDirector of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systemsparticipated in a session on using indicators and data to better understand our food systems. The panel discussion was moderated by Charles Levkoe and explained how indicators can be used to design appropriate interventions for improving the issues in a food system by effectively describing the food system climate. This panel discussed the usefulness of using indicators to characterize a food system and how they can be used to track an initiativeaffect on a food system and the people within it. They also spoke about the challenges of food systeassessment. Data is not always accessible and it can be difficult to find metrics that clearly and accurately represent issues within a food system.  


Among the most important takeaways from the conference, was the need and ability to empower communities to take their food system into their own hands. Many of the sessions focused on community-based research and the responsibility to ensure that research outcomes are shared with the community in an usable and meaningful wayTopics and research presented andiscussed throughout the conference provided a strong reminder that people are at the centre of all our food systems work.  

About the Author: 

Maggie Mills (BAH, Economics) is a Danish-descended settler and Master of Environmental Studies candidate living on Coast Salish territory. She researches food systems and capacity building in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.  

Conversation in the Commons: Setting the Table for Food Security in Canada

As the term “food security” finds its ways into talking points and headlines across the country, communicators are tasked with the challenge of helping shape the discussion and growing public support for smart solutions.

On June 13, FLEdGE Research’s Peter Andrée sat down with host Caitlin Kealey, MediaStyle’s CEO, and Elle Crevits, Project Lead at the Parkdale Food Centre, to discuss food security initiatives in Canada.

The conversation covered food security issues such as:
-Social determinants of health and sustainability
-Federal changes such as Canada Food Guide and the upcoming National Food Policy
-October’s federal election
-Communications and public relations approaches

FLEdGE: Works Cited

June 2019

Select Publications from Winter/Spring 2019

Blay-Palmer, A. and Young, L. (2019). Food System Lessons from the SDGs. In: Dalby, S., Horton, S., Mahon, R., and Thomaz, D. (Eds.). Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Global Governance Challenges (19-35). Routledge Studies in Sustainable Development. New York: Routledge.

Dale, B., LaForge, J., Levkoe, C.Z. (2019). Building an Agroecological Movement in Canada: Report from the 2018 Agroecology Field School and Research Summit. Report for Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE).

Duncan, J., Levkoe, C.Z., Moragues Faus, A. (2019). Envisioning new horizons for the political economy of sustainable food systems. IDS Bulletin. 

Hanisch, A. L., Negrelle, R. R., Bonatto, R. A., Nimmo, E. R., & Lacerda, A. E. B. (2019). Evaluating Sustainability in Traditional Silvopastoral Systems (caívas): Looking Beyond the Impact of Animals on Biodiversity. Sustainability11(11), 3098.

Levkoe C.Z., and Sheedy, A. (2019). A People-Centred Approach to Food Policy Making: Lessons from Canada’s People’s Food Policy Project. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 14(3), 318-338. DOI: 10.1080/19320248.2017.1407724

Levkoe C.Z., Erlich, S., and Archibald, S. (2019). Campus Food Movements and Food System Transformation: Mobilizing Community-Campus Partnerships for the Real Food Challenge in Canada. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, 5(1): 57-76.

Levkoe C.Z., Ray, L., and McLaughlin, J. (2019). The Indigenous Food Circle: Reconciliation and Revitalization through Food in Northwestern Ontario. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development. 

Levkoe C.Z. (2019). Learning Democracy Through Food Justice Movements. In: C. Counihan, P. Van Esterik, and A. Julier (eds.). Food and Culture: A Reader, Fourth Edition, pp. 510-524. New York: Routledge. (reprinted from Agriculture and Human Values 23 (1): 89-98. 2006).

Lowitt K., Levkoe C.Z., Song A.M., Hickey G.M., Nelson C. (2019). In: R. Chuenpagdee, and S. Jentoft. (Eds.). Broadening the Knowledge Base of Small-Scale Fisheries through a Food Systems Framework: A Case Study of the Lake Superior RegionTransdisciplinarity for Small-Scale Fisheries Governance. MARE Publication Series. Springer.

Mah, C. L., Aresnault, J. N., Taylor, N., & Hasdell, R. (2019). In defence of Canada’s Food Guide, The Conversation. 

Northwest Nosh: The annual magazine of the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy -May 2019

Rallings, A. M., Smukler, S. M., Gergel, S. B. and K. Mullinix. (2019). Towards multifunctional land use in an agricultural landscape: A trade-off and synergy analysis in the Lower Fraser Valley, Canada. Landscape and Urban Planning. 184: 88-100.

Understanding Our Food Systems: Food Sovereignty in Northwestern Ontario.

Previous FLEdGE: Works Cited posts:

Hybrid governance as rural development: Market, state, and civil society in Correns, France

June 2019

By Chantal Wei-Ying Clément

What does it take to develop sustainable food systems at the local level? While rural spaces are more often described as places of economic and social decline, they in fact play an essential role in providing people with community, identity, and livelihood. Often due to their smaller population size and area, rural communities in Europe have the potential to put ambitious sustainable development strategies in place more easily than larger more disperse cities and towns.

Tucked away in the foothills of Provence, France, the village of Correns is an example of how rural communities can come together to recognize the economic, social, and environmental value of their local food system and support vibrant rural livelihoods. As France’s “first organic village”, Correns’ story is described in the chapter, “Hybrid governance as rural development: Market, state, and civil society in Correns, France” in Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance. In this chapter, I discuss the innovative strategies farmers, village residents, and municipal officials used to breathe life back into their community.

Local winegrowers use horse-drawn tillage in Correns, France’s first organic village

With over 90% of its population involved in agriculture in some way, most of Correns’ locals still significantly identify with an agricultural way of life. The chapter explores how a combination of market-based practices and local democratic engagement allowed villagers to revitalize their local community. In particular, I looked at the role farmers and civil society played in the design and implementation of local strategies, and specifically, how working closely with municipal officials allowed for clear and cohesive community development.

Between 2013 and 2014, I visited and spoked to municipal officials, farmers, community organizers, and local business owners in Correns through a series of semi-structured interviews. Through these conversations and by participating in community events, I gained insight into the challenges and opportunities it took to build a more sustainable food system in Correns. I learned that Correns’ success can be attributed to three key factors: 1) mayoral leadership and the time and financial resources made available by the municipality, 2) the development of a new citizen-based decision-making structure to ensure equal relationships of power between state and society, and 3) using organic agriculture and quality labelling as the jumping-off point for broader sustainable community development. The case of Correns also stresses that the strong community bonds and the overlapping roles of members within smaller rural communities create key opportunities for sustainable development, namely by developing trust and reciprocity between community members.

As the mayor of Correns told me:

“Politics has forgotten that we are here to give meaning and purpose to our actions, but we have to do this. In the end, any community is only as rich as the men and women who make it. […] One of my growing worries has been about the state of democracy around the world. We need to renew democracy. Even participatory democracy is often used as a trap to mean something else. We need real participatory democracy that can serve to counterweight government power.”

Developing the sustainable food systems we need for the future are a community effort. This means that all actors have to be involved in the decisions that shape and put into practice the actions that need to happen on the ground for a transition to occur. Using multiple strategies (economic, political, social) rooted in identity and place allowed Correns to imagine the wealth of possibilities that might create the much-needed momentum for food system change.


Chantal Wei-Ying Clément is Deputy Director of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Carleton University, where her research focused on collaborative governance methods for food system transition, local food systems, and community food security.



Clément, C.W. (2019). Hybrid governance as rural development: Market, state, and civil society in Correns, France. In P. Andrée, J.K. Clark, C. Z. Levkoe, & K. Lowitt (Eds.), Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance (pp-pp). London: Routledge. DOI:

The Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance Blog Series showcases the chapters and themes from the open-access book. Follow along as we explore the governance of contemporary food systems and their ongoing transformation by social movements.

Previous posts in the series: