Save the Date! Levers for Food Systems Change: A Panel Discussion on Urban Food Security, Food Justice, and International Agreements

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018
9:00 am – 10:30 am
Balsillie School of International Affairs, Room 142

Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/levers-for-food-systems-change-a-panel-discussion-on-urban-food-security-food-justice-and-tickets-50375385133

Over the last three years various international agreements have highlighted the need for greater coordination along the food chain and increased food justice in creating urban food security. These international agreements have set the stage for new urban food policy to emerge. At this panel discussion, food system experts from Wilfrid Laurier University, Carleton University, and the City of Toronto will explore how we can use the New Urban Agenda and other international agreements (SDGs and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact) as levers for changing the food system.

 A light breakfast will be served. Registration is free but required. Continue reading “Save the Date! Levers for Food Systems Change: A Panel Discussion on Urban Food Security, Food Justice, and International Agreements”

FLEdGE gets poetic: Faris Ahmed’s Fractured Food Systems Blues

April 6, 2017

Last year the team behind FLEdGE released the book Nourishing Communities: From Fractured Food Systems to Transformative Pathways (Springer), which documents more than a decade of collaborative work by our network of scholars, community-based partners, and practitioners interested in constructing more sustainable and just food systems.

In November, Carleton University’s Faculty of Public Affairs hosted a discussion of the book at Irene’s Pub in Ottawa. Moe Garahan (Just Food Ottawa), Jay Garlough (Hidden Harvest Ottawa), and Faris Ahmed (USC Canada) commented on the book and discussed their own work in transforming food systems. One of the highlights of this engaging evening was Faris’ response to the book in the form of spoken word. It was so good, we went back to record it!

Below you will find Faris’ performance along with a brief interview about his work at USC. You can also find the entire audio on YouTube. Continue reading “FLEdGE gets poetic: Faris Ahmed’s Fractured Food Systems Blues”

How to Improve Northern Ontario Food Systems: The 4 Next Steps

By Alison Earls, BA., MEDI.

Over the summer I was thrilled to work as a research assistant for Food Locally Embedded Globally Engaged (FLEdGE). I grew up in a small rural farming community food and food systems were a central part of my life from a young age, so getting the chance to study these systems, specifically infrastructure for Northern Ontario food systems, was a dream come true.

Although I have experience with local food and food systems research, I was a bit out of my comfort zone with the geography of the project, which took place in Northern Ontario. I am very familiar with the opportunities and obstacles that are available for food and farms in Southern Ontario but, at the beginning of the project, food and farming in Northern Ontario was new to me. Before starting the project, I would have said that the food systems in Northern and Southern Ontario have similar challenges and opportunities, however this is not the case. Continue reading “How to Improve Northern Ontario Food Systems: The 4 Next Steps”

How does a farmer learn to farm? A scan of practical farmer training programs

By Laura Schreiner
February 2018

Doctors attend medical school, electricians go through apprenticeships—but how do farmers learn the practical skills of their trade? There are many different pathways into farming, but they aren’t nearly as structured—nor as well understood—as those of other occupations. In an era of aging and retiring farmers, understanding how the next generation is being trained is important, but there is very little research into it as yet.

To this end, in the summer of 2017, under the supervision of Theresa Schumilas and Charles Levkoe and with the guidance of our partner organizations, the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) and the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training in SW Ontario (CRAFT-SW), I conducted a scan of practical farmer training programs. Practical farmer training refers to farmer-to-farmer education that has a significant on-farm (hands-on) component. The goal was to document and then categorize the various types of practical farmer training programs across North America, to help broaden our understanding of and contextualize the variety of training program models. Continue reading “How does a farmer learn to farm? A scan of practical farmer training programs”

Inspiring Change in Health Care

Since its inception seven years ago, the Therapeutic Garden at Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, Ontario has been a leader in the field. The brainchild of Louise Quenneville, Project Manager at HGMH, the garden has grown steadily by maximizing resources, including a three-year partnership with Project SOIL (a FLEdGE partner project—see the case study here). The garden has brought well-deserved attention to HGMH and Louise, now recognized as one of Canada’s health care innovators

Continue reading “Inspiring Change in Health Care”

New national report card provides comprehensive snapshot of the sustainability of Canada’s food systems

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WATERLOO – Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University, Lakehead University and the University of Toronto have taken a first step toward producing a comprehensive report card on the sustainability of Canada’s food systems. Their new report, “Food Counts: A Pan-Canadian Sustainable Food Systems Report Card,” brings together 61 existing measures of social, environmental, and economic well-being to examine food systems at the national level. Unlike existing food systems report cards, which focus on isolated perspectives such as economic productivity or individual health outcomes, Food Counts builds on existing efforts to create an integrative set of measurements to assess whole food systems, taking a range of relevant factors into account, from ecological, economic, health, labour, and educational points of view. There are plans to update it regularly to track trends.

“The Food Counts report card highlights the limitations of existing indicators and the need to reassess the way we approach and advocate for social justice, ecological regeneration, regional economies and active democratic engagement,” said Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and an assistant professor at Lakehead University. “There is a lot more research needed to understand the path towards sustainable food futures and this report card is a vital step in that direction.”

Some areas where Canada is doing well, from a social justice point of view, include that agricultural wages are going up while fatalities among farm workers are going down. More farms are using water conservation measures and more households are composting.

Areas where Canada is not doing as well include that fruit and vegetable consumption is going down and is lower than average among Indigenous peoples. A set basket of food is becoming more expensive and household food insecurity is going up, with food bank use also on the rise. There are fewer, older farmers on fewer, larger farms and they are in greater debt. Farmers are using more chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are going up.

“Developing sustainable food systems is complicated,” said Alison Blay-Palmer, director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair in Sustainable Food Systems and an associate professor at Laurier and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. “We need to think about how our food is grown or harvested, who has access to healthy food, and how these things impact our environment and local economies. This report card helps us understand where we are doing well, where we can improve, and where we need more information.”

The report was produced with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada by the FLEdGE (Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged) research and knowledge-sharing partnership, which is hosted at Laurier. The report can be accessed online at https://fledgeresearch.ca/foodcounts/. Twitter: #FoodCounts.

CONTACTS

Charles Levkoe, Assistant Professor Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems Lakehead University 647-633-7447 or clevkoe@lakeheadu.ca

Alison Blay-Palmer, Associate Professor Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair in Sustainable Food Systems Wilfrid Laurier University ablaypalmer@wlu.ca