Happy New Year from FLEdGE!

Sustainable food has been on the minds and lips of an increasing number of people in 2018. On the international stage, food has become an important part of discussions about climate change and sustainability with more attention being paid to how city-region food systems work across places and scales. Across Canada, sustainable food system researchers and community advocacy groups continue to provide input to the federal government as it develops “A Food Policy for Canada,” while at the same time working to address significant challenges within the food system at the local level.

2018 also saw substantial growth of the FLEdGE network. Our recent report, “Good Food Solutions: Building sustainable food communities for all Canadians” provides a snapshot of the work that we’ve done so far and outlines the five principles that ground our research practice as we work toward more sustainable food systems. We are delighted to be able to share the fruits of our collective research practice with you on our Resources and Results page and will continue to do so through 2019 and for the life of the FLEdGE project.

As 2018 comes to an end, we’d like to take the opportunity to wish you a very happy holiday season and send our best wishes for 2019. From all of us here at FLEdGE, may the New Year bring you health, joy, and good and sustainable food.

Wild harvest as an urban practice

December 2018

By Irena Knezevic

Windsor, Ontario, is in that part of Canada that geographically hooks into the US, and is paradoxically located south of the border, just across the river from Detroit. It is sometimes jokingly referred to as “Detroit South.” The moniker is in fact utterly appropriate. Like Detroit, it is a blue-collar town full of immigrants (largely white, European, but more recently also Lebanese and then Somalian) many of whom came to the city to work in the automotive factories that form the backbone of Windsor’s economy. It is also a city that, like Detroit, has a rich arts and culture scene.

In the heart of that city, just three or four blocks from the Detroit River, is an alley. This is where my mom, who lives in a condo overlooking the river and Detroit’s captivating skyline, picks all her grape leaves for dolmatas. We come from Bosnia, and we love stuffing vegetables of all kinds—peppers, zucchini, cabbage, onion, grape leaves. My stepfather is Greek, so dolmatas are a staple food for him too. Dolmatas make sense in their household. But the two of them live a comfortable urban retiree life, and don’t need to pick their food from alleyways where it’s free. My mom’s neighbourhood harvest is not a product of necessity. Yet, the delight in her voice is palpable when I phone her and she tells me about her recent harvest of mulberries in that same alley. The alley also offers nettle, wild strawberries, and dandelion leaves. Not far from there, she picks amaranth leaves (also known as pigweed or callaloo), and a few blocks over, just by the railroad tracks, is where she gets her rosehips for jam and tea. Continue reading “Wild harvest as an urban practice”

Sustain ON tries to engage politicians with varying success

December 2018

By Harrison Runtz

This past summer I had the privilege of working with Sustain Ontario, a non-governmental organization that works on connecting the needs/policy asks of different stakeholders in Ontario’s food networks. Sustain Ontario’s main goal is to transform our provincial food systems into more sustainable, community-oriented forms. My work was specifically related to the provincial iteration of their VoteONFood campaign. VoteONFood is an election-based effort to inform politicians on crucial areas of policy that are needed to address food systems issues. While my work focused on the provincial level, the campaign is currently targeting prospective municipal politicians. This initiative, which attempts to spread awareness of issues brought forth by experts working in these fields as producers, academics, scientists, and others, highlighted the intensely difficult task of breaking down partisanship and spreading best practices. While the issues of knowledge mobilization are many, I’ll outline two challenges that seemed particularly pertinent to the work in which I was involved. Continue reading “Sustain ON tries to engage politicians with varying success”

Can you DIG this video? Setting down roots for a healthy and sustainable food system

Durham Integrated Growers for a Sustainable Community (DIG) focuses on people working together to grow food in a healthy sustainable way. As the new video shows, this is partly about people getting their hands dirty as they grow food in and near Durham Region cities and towns.  However, it is also about supporting communities to grow, process, distribute, and sell food in ways that are best for them. It is about teaching skills around growing food in communities, promoting urban agriculture as a key ingredient for resilient communities and a sustainable food system, and advocating for greater policy support for urban agriculture. Watch the following video to get a better sense about what DIG digs!

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: 

Exploring Community Stories About “Fish as Food”

August 2018

Written by Kristen Lowitt

In May 2018, members of the FLEdGE Northwestern Ontario Research Node hosted a “fish as food” roundtable session at the Community Conservation and Livelihoods Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The session featured community stories on “fish as food” from the Northwest Territories to Nova Scotia. Collectively, the stories illustrate the importance of not seeing fisheries solely as an assortment of fish harvesters or fish stocks, but as part of larger food systems that provide for community sustenance, cultures, and economies. Co-organized by Kristen Lowitt and Charles Levkoe, the session builds on their ongoing FLEdGE research exploring the links between sustainable fisheries and food systems in the Lake Superior region of Northwestern Ontario. Continue reading “Exploring Community Stories About “Fish as Food””

Food systems are critical to urban resilience

By Patricia Ballamingie
July 15, 2018

Thanks to the international networking of FLEdGE PI Alison Blay-Palmer, FLEdGE researchers and partners were invited to present a panel on Building resilient food systems: Policy across multiple scales at the ICLEI World Congress 2018, held in Montreal, June 20-22.

Since ICLEI’s inception, urban resilience and sustainability have largely been framed in terms of climate change mitigation and adaption. But as food system scholars and practitioners know, food serves as a portal to those and so many other related socio-economic and environmental issues. And cities play a crucial role in achieving food security, optimizing health and advancing environmental sustainability. Food production and food access programs target predominantly urban populations; urban, peri-urban, and rural areas remain closely interrelated; and the municipal level proves the most effective and efficient for many food policies and programs to occur. Continue reading “Food systems are critical to urban resilience”