Southern Ontario Food System Case Studies are Now Available!

In the summer 2017, four graduate students in the Southern Ontario FLEdGE Research Node worked with FLEdGE community partners on three action research projects. These projects explored the tensions, compromises, and opportunities inherent in the scaling up and out of sustainable food system initiatives. FLEdGE is happy to announce that case studies from those projects are now available to the public on our websiteContinue reading “Southern Ontario Food System Case Studies are Now Available!”

Cultivating Connections: Alberta Regional Food Systems Forum 2017

Conference Proceedings Now Available!

Find Forum Keynote and presenters’ slides, resources, and summary notes here:

On Feb 3-5 2017 Alberta Food Matters and FLEdGE—Food Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged – hosted a very successful Cultivating Connections 2017 Forum about Alberta Regional Food Systems. The purpose of this Forum was: 1) to bring together individuals and representatives from public, private and non-profit sectors in Alberta to share information about innovative initiatives; 2) to identify opportunities; and 3) to collaborate in building socially just, economically viable and ecologically sound and sustainable local/regional food systems in the province. The Forum provided a venue for those interested in forming partnerships, coalitions and action-oriented working groups toward this end.

Continue reading “Cultivating Connections: Alberta Regional Food Systems Forum 2017”


Wayne Roberts reports from Montpelier, France (also posted on Wayne’s Medium blog)

Part 2 (read Part 1 here)



Wayne Roberts looks at all the ways local food webs are already growing, ready to become the Next Big Thing in creative disruption.

Several weeks ago, I went to and wrote about an exciting international conference in Montpelier, France, on sustainable “agrichains” — which is geekspeak for food supply chains that are socially, economically and environmentally responsible.

I now want to propose the idea of going beyond the one-way and linear supply chain thinking of agribusiness, and make the case instead for civic food webs — based on partnerships among local governments, local public and community institutions (universities and co-ops, for example), social movements, citizen groups (such as the marvelous Equiterre of Montreal), community-oriented businesses, neighborhood groups, and engaged individuals and families.



Wayne Roberts reports from Montpelier, France (also posted on Wayne’s Medium blog)

Part 1 (read Part 2 here)



Some 250 food and agriculture researchers, teachers, community and business leaders from 40 countries met in Montpelier, France, this December to discuss how food system reforms can contribute to meeting 17 bracing Sustainable Development Goals — perhaps the most ambitious, compelling and engaging global project yet adopted by the United Nations.

The conference on Agri-Chains and Sustainable Development took place in the last weeks of 2016, but the quality of presentations rang in the new year with some exciting prospects for research and action projects.

I attended and presented at the conference as a representative of FLEdGe, based at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, which supports Canadian scholarly work and practice to promote Food that is Locally Embedded and Globally Engaged.


Governments, grassroots, and the struggle for local food systems: containing, coopting, contesting and collaborating


Local sustainable food systems have captured the popular imagination as a progressive, if not radical, pillar of a sustainable food future. Yet these grassroots innovations are embedded in a dominant food regime that reflects productivist, industrial, and neoliberal policies and institutions. Continue reading “Governments, grassroots, and the struggle for local food systems: containing, coopting, contesting and collaborating”

Providing Local, Sustainable Food while Building Relationships- Seven Shores Community Cafe.

By Mbabazi S Shumbusho.

There’s a family friendly atmosphere when you enter this community cafe, the reception is warm and inviting. One can easily mistake it for a neighbourhood community centre. Seven Shores Community Cafe located in Waterloo, ON is striving to provide local food while building and maintaining community relationships. Ten people own this cafe; five couples to be exact who were regular customers and decided to come together to purchase the establishment from Shawn, the previous owner. In addition to the ten owners, the cafe sold shares to the community in 2015 to raise operating capital and also integrate the community into the project. The community shareholders (also known as preferred shareholders) own seventy shares but do not have any voting rights and do not partake in any decision-making. One wonders how ten owners work so well together but as co-owners Steve Tulloch and Sarah Whyte point out, having ten owners who are passionate about local food and community relationships makes it easier. Four owners currently work on the day to day running of the cafe while the remaining six owners work as advisors. To really make this work, Steve and Sarah insist that trusting one another is the key to their successful ownership and operation.

Their slogan ‘Simple, Ethical and Relational’ means good food produced using ethical practices which are local, organic using direct trade or fair trade, good living wages and maintaining a healthy relationship with the community.


Seven Shores Community Cafe

Sourcing produce is an on-going initiative but at present the cafe works with a local grassroots initiative known as sustainable markets, an online market that buys produce directly from farmers. They also have personal relationships with farmers and local suppliers. This is evident through table place cards that summarize each supplier’s story and their produce. The cards build a bridge between customers and suppliers. Steve explains that these place cards are given to customers so they know where their food is coming from. As Steve and Sarah explain, the benefits of working with local suppliers, food initiatives and farmers is that they are able to help out suppliers when they have extra produce, for example ugly produce, that is not purchased by the big institutions as it does not meet their standards. When it comes to coffee, they source their beans from South America (Peru) and Africa (Ethiopia) by working directly with the coffee producers to make sure that the coffee is fairly traded. This relationship was built by the previous owner and was adopted by the new ownership.


Table Place Card

As they say in their slogan, the owners take community relationships seriously. They put a premium on building relationships with the surrounding community members and suppliers. The cafe has a community room that can be rented out at an affordable price, $25 per hour or the occupants can buy $25 equivalent of food. The community room is a space for everyone. Steve mentioned that, for example, mother and baby groups rent the space as a place to gather. The cafe is also home to a small vegetable garden run by two high school students. Once ready for harvest, the vegetables are sold at the entrance of the cafe. Not only is Seven Shores Community Cafe promoting local sustainable food but it is also helping the community learn about the importance of growing and consuming fresh local food. The owners have realized that building community relationships also comes with being socially responsible. They have hired skilled refugees so they are able to integrate into Canadian society while earning a living wage.


Vegetable garden at the entrance of the café

Seven Shores community cafe is a space where everyone can feel like they belong, where one can have a good conversation or just read a book and try out delicious local food. For more information, please visit their website

I would like to thank Seven Shores Community Cafe, Sarah Whyte & Steve Tulloch for taking their time out of their busy schedules for the interview.