News & Events

Nipigon Blueberry Blast Festival    

May 2019

This engaging video shows how a local community utilizes a locally available food source – boreal forest wild blueberries, to attract tourists to participate in blueberry foraging and to support local community participation. This annual event enhances local community prosperity while coalescing all participants in their connectedness to the land and a deep respect for a healthy environment where blueberries thrive.

About the Social Economy of Food Video Series

The Social Economy of Food Video Series showcases local leaders that are using food to improve their communities by enhancing the local and social economies. Watch the complete series here.

Other videos in the series:

Searching for Fit? Institution Building and Local Action for Food System Change in Dunedin, New Zealand

May 2019

 By Philippa Mackay and Sean Connelly

Food system change is complex and multifaceted. From the global to the local, concerns about health, the environment, social justice and economic development reflect diverse priorities for food system change.  While this diversity provides multiple opportunities to draw on a range of expertise and resources, it also highlights the critical role of governance in navigating competing priorities and resolving tensions. Food governance is about processes and structures of power and control around decision-making. Decisions made will influence the allocation of resources, prioritization of values, and the approaches that are taken to achieve particular outcomes. The chapter “Searching for Fit? Institution Building and Local Action for Food System Change” in, Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance, discusses the evolving process of local food governance. In doing so, we highlight an example of how diverse stakeholders are involved in shaping priorities and processes of food system change.

The case study in this chapter is set in the small city of Dunedin, located on the South Island of New Zealand (NZ). In Dunedin, two co-evolving food system networks (one derived from civil society, the other from local government) have emerged. Concerns about the food system has resulted in multiple food initiatives to address environmental issues, food poverty, and community building. These responses have brought diverse efforts together in a systemic way.  

Timeline of activities leading to the development of Our Food Network Dunedin and Good Food Dunedin.

Our Food Network Dunedin (OFN) is a self-described grassroots organisation dedicated to stimulating the production, distribution, and consumption of local food, and in that way, contribute to building a resilience and prosperous community. The local government network, Good Food Dunedin (GFD) was initiated following the successful lobbying by OFN and others, to create a part-time position within the Dunedin City Council (DCC) dedicated to addressing issues of food resilience . The council-led food network became a formal platform to bring together diverse stakeholder who share a vision of transforming Dunedin into a thriving and sustainable food city.

The emergence of these two food networks reflect different perspectives and illustrate the challenge of attempting to collectively frame issues and advocate for solutions. For example, GFD focused on framing the problem and solutions of food through an economic and resilience lens, as this was the only way Council involvement could be justified. OFN was concerned about this overly economic focus since their primary motivation and core values are rooted in local food as a driver for bringing people and groups together to enhance local food production and consumption. Compromises were necessary by both network groups to determine the way that food system issues were framed, and various initiative supported in response. Additionally, other food system actors held the perception that these networks offered limited room to discuss food values outside of local or resilient food systems, such as food-related social justice issues. Despite these differences, local food governance has been legitimized both within local government and in the broader community as a result of the process to formally introduce alternative food initiatives into the Council’s agenda.

Food system governance in Dunedin has evolved from what was once a relatively small collection of diverse food initiatives to a more formalized network of food system actors that have firmly placed food on the public agenda through the formation of GFD. Civil society and local government relationships have been reshaped, and the creation of the formal platform for decision-making has led to positive relationships that have increased access to resources and empowered local communities to make decisions on food system change. The potential of linking these efforts to broader social movements in the city, or to reflect other framings of food system problems, such as social justice or providing for cultural food system practises, has not yet materialized. It is clear however, that the process and newly formed structures of power that have been institutionalised in local governance mechanisms, are now set up to address complex and multi-faceted food system issues more formally into the future.

Chapter Contributors

Philippa Mackay is an Environmental Consultant who works on strategic and community development projects.  Her passion lies with the implementation of sustainable practice more generally, but she has a keen interest in sustainable food system change.  She completed her Master of Planning in the Department of Geography at the University of Otago.

 

Sean Connelly is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of Otago. He teaches courses on environmental management and his research interests are in the broad area of sustainable communities, with particular focus on alternative food systems and rural and regional development.

 

Chapter Citation

Mackay, P., & Connelly, S. (2019). Searching for fit? Institution building and local action for food system change in Dunedin, New Zealand. In P. Andrée, J. K. Clark, C. Z. Levkoe, & K. Lowitt (Eds.), Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance(63-80). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597


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:

Adaptive Emergence of Local Food Initiatives within the Context of Northwestern Ontario 

May 2019

Willow Springs Creative Centre (WSCC) is a bubbling hub of activities that focuses on local foods as a means to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits. This charming video captures the diversity of ways that WSCC adapts creatively to the local boreal context from therapeutic gardening to a food training program through a seasonal market.

About the Social Economy of Food Video Series

The Social Economy of Food Video Series showcases local leaders that are using food to improve their communities by enhancing the local and social economies. Watch the complete series here.

Other videos in the series:

Foraging for Blueberries as a Community to Enhance Youth Programs

April 2019

This engaging video explores how the Aroland Youth Blueberry Initiative (AYBI) is creating opportunities for all community members (youth to elders) to enhance food security and support youth activities through harvesting and selling locally foraged blueberries. AYBI promotes an intergenerational approach to maintaining traditional knowledge in caring and harvesting blueberries.

About the Social Economy of Food Video Series

The Social Economy of Food Video Series showcases local leaders that are using food to improve their communities by enhancing the local and social economies. Watch the complete series here.

Other videos in the series:

Traversing Theory & Practice and the Governance Engagement Continuum

April 2019

By Kristen Lowitt, Jill Clark, and Peter Andrée 

Food systems are in crisis. For social movements and organizations working at the front lines to build more sustainable and just food systems, this crisis also represents an opportunity. Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance provides an array of examples from the Global North of how members of food movements are attempting to make change by getting involved in food system decision-making, or ‘governance’, both inside and outside governments. Local government engagement is exemplified in the case of Correns, France, where organic food advocates have harnessed municipal government to further sustainable community development in their rural community. Formal government engagement at the national level is examined in a case study of participation in the national food policy consultation process in Canada. While another chapter highlights the case of social movement engagement in the World Committee on Food Security. 

Food governance is about more than simply working with governments. Governance refers to all of the relationships, processes, rules, practices, and structures through which power and control are exercised and decisions are made, whether by companies, organizations, governments, Indigenous authorities or international institutions. The case of the YYC Growers and Distributors, a new food producer’s cooperative in Alberta, exemplifies the creation of collaborative food system governance mechanisms outside of government, though the chapter on YYC also shows how local and provincial governments had to be engaged to ensure success. 

These are examples from just four of the ten chapters covered in this new book, which can be thought of as a primer for food system activists working to strengthen alliances and governance around their own innovations. Published in February 2019, Civil Society & Social Movements in Food System Governance includes chapters featuring case studies from Canada, the US, Europe and New Zealand. Most chapters are grounded in research supported through the FLEdGE project, and were discussed at a project workshop in September 2017. 

To set the scene for the on-the-ground case examples that follow, the book begins by introducing the concept of neoliberalism, or the predominance of the private sector and markets as prime concerns, as a defining feature of contemporary food systems. We also review the range of ways that social movements characterize the food system and seek to make change – from food security, to right to food, to food sovereignty. 

In addition, we present an original framework for thinking about the variety of forms that social movements engage in food system governance. We suggest these forms may be situated along a continuum, emphasizing how social movements experience and work with power. 

Governance Engagement Continuum: The role of food movements

This collection illustrates four main ideas:

  1. Food movements are increasingly engaging in governance to have a wider, systemic, impact.
  2. Food movements engage in governance at a variety of scales, though there is an emphasis on the local scale.
  3. The variety of forms that governance engagement takes can be placed along a continuum when considering the power that social movement actors wield.
  4. Building relationships with other actors based on mutual trust and commitment is central to achieving change. This volume highlights how many of the relationships built through local food  initiatives  may become the foundation for broader collaborations.

By examining and comparing a variety of ways social movements engage in decision-making, at a range of scales, the book offers insights for those considering contemporary food systems and their ongoing transformation by social movements. Alongside the cases featured in this book, we hope that the framework presented in Chapter 1 will be helpful for other communities and researchers to examine what is happening with food in their own backyards.

Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance is an open-access book. You can read it online or download for free here.

Chapter Contributors

Peter Andrée is Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. His research focuses on the politics of food systems and the environment. He practices, and teaches, community-based participatory research methods.  Prof. Andrée is co-editor of Globalization and Food Sovereignty: Global and Local Change in the New Politics of Food (2014) and author of Genetically Modified Diplomacy (2007).

 

Jill K. Clark is an Associate Professor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. Her research interests include food policy and practice, centering on community and state governance of food systems, the policy process, and public participation.

 

 

Charles Z. Levkoe is the Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems in the Department of Health Sciences at Lakehead University. Charles’ community-engaged research uses a food systems lens to explore connections between social justice, ecological regeneration, regional economies, and democratic engagement.

 

 

Kristen Lowitt is at the Department of Geography, Brandon University, Canada. Her research looks at the interactions among food security, communities, and natural resource management in rural and remote regions.

 

 

Carla Johnston is a Ph.D.  Candidate and a Doctoral Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Her research interests include the governance of sustainable food systems in northern Canada as well as using Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology to work directly with civil society groups to create meaningful actions that help them reach their goals.

 

Chapter Citations

Andrée, P., Clark, J., Levkoe, C., & Lowitt, K. (2019). Introduction – Traversing theory and practice. In P. Andrée, J.K. Clark, C. Z. Levkoe, & K. Lowitt (Eds.), Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance (1-18). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597

Andrée, P., Clark, J., Levkoe, C., Lowitt, K., & Johnston, C. (2019). The governance engagment continuum: Food movement mobilization and the execution of power through governance arrangements. In P. Andrée, J.K. Clark, C. Z. Levkoe, & K. Lowitt (Eds.), Civil Society and Social Movements in Food Systems Governance (19-42). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429503597


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

Enhancing the production, processing and distribution of local foods in Northwestern Ontario 

April 2019

CLFC emerged from a desire among farmers in the Dryden area to be better connected to potential markets. This upbeat video describes how an on-line local food distribution system, that covers a vast geographic area with sparse population, functions to benefit producers, processors and restaurants featuring local food. CLFC has grown very rapidly since its beginning in 2013. What started with just 85 members in the Dryden community has now grown to a current membership of over 1,500 in more than eight hub communities across Northwestern Ontario, with expansion to more communities currently under way. All products are sold through the co-op’s website (www.cloverbeltlocalfoodcoop.com), which operates year-round.

About the Social Economy of Food Video Series

The Social Economy of Food Video Series showcases local leaders that are using food to improve their communities by enhancing the local and social economies. Watch the complete series here.

Other videos in the series: