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Institute for Sustainable Food Systems

ISFS is an applied research and extension unit at KPU that investigates and supports regional food systems as key elements of sustainable communities. We focus predominantly on British Columbia but also extend our programming to other regions.

Our applied research focuses on the potential of regional food systems in terms of agriculture and food, economics, community health, policy, and environmental integrity. Our extension programming provides information and support for farmers, communities, businesses, policy makers, and others. Community collaboration is central to our approach.

New at the ISFS

Survey: Organic Extension Assessment for BC's Organic Sector

 kaleWe are inviting members of BC’s food and farming sector (farms, processors, distributors, retailers, and other food businesses) who are interested in extension support relating to organic production or post-production to participate by completing a brief online survey.

The information we collect will be used to identify any gaps in organic extension in BC, and to plan for what an effective province-wide extension service for the organic sector should look like.

We estimate the survey will take about 15 minutes. Your answers will be anonymous, and your name will not be attached to your responses. Participants are eligible to win one of five $100 gift cards to a supplier of your choice.


Survey open until August 15, 2020: Click here to take our survey.

To learn more about the project, contact our research assistant Angeli dela Rosa:

This project is funded by the BC Ministry of Agriculture.

Grocery Aisle. Photo Source: Getty Images (#155096238)Inter-Provincial Survey: From Food Access, Concerns and Perceptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020

The Institute for Sustainable Food Systems has partnered with universities across Canada to conduct a survey on food access, concerns and food system perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The survey aims to advance our understanding of food access, purchasing and consumption behavior, as well as the food-related perceptions and concerns of Canadian consumers during the pandemic. We hope to provide evidence of the impacts of a pandemic, from a consumer’s perspective, on one of the basic human needs - food. This study will contribute to the on-going discussion on the importance and urgency of transitioning into a more reliable and resilient regional food system. 

The survey can be completed in approximately 15 minutes. No personal information will be collected and all responses will be anonymous. This study is hosted by Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Ethics approval has been granted by the Research Ethics Board (; 604-599-3163).

To take the survey, click the link corresponding to your region (if available).

British Columbia - Take the Survey

Alberta - Take the Survey

Ontario - Take the Survey

Quebec - Take the Survey (EN)

Québec - Répondre à la questionnaire (FR)

Atlantic Canada - Take the Survey (EN) (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador) la Nouvelle-Écosse

Le Canada atlantique - Répondre à la questionnaire (FR) (le Nouveau-Brunswick, la Nouvelle-Écosse, l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, et Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador)

Lead Researchers & Institutions:
British Columbia: The Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Alberta: Dr. Mary Beckie at the University of Alberta, in partnership with the ISFS
Ontario: Dr. Irena Knezevic at Carleton University, in partnership with the ISFS
Quebec: Dr. Daiva Nielsen at McGill University, in partnership with the ISFS
Atlantic Canada: Dr. Catherine Mah at The Dalhousie University Food Policy Lab, in partnership with the ISFS


Survey - Training New Alternative Farmers in BC

Agriculture is changing rapidly. And so is the way we train emerging farmers.
We are asking Alternative Farmers to help us in creating an open-access instructional guide to support new farmer training initiatives in alternative agricultural practices in BC. Click here to take our 15-20 minute survey and help us identify what new alternative farmers should be taught in order to be effective as employees, managers, and or/owner operators in the alternative agriculture sub-sector. All participants are eligible to win one of ten, $100 Visa gift cards! 
The ultimate deliverable of this project will be an open-access instructional guide to assist new farmer training initiatives in BC such as farmer training programs, farmer-to-farmer mentorships, on-farm internships and apprenticeships. This guide will support established farmers in mentorship initiatives as well as ensure that new farmers are equipped with the tools and knowledge to catalyze the impact of regenerative, organic, sustainable, small-scale and agroecological agriculture.

To learn more about the project, please contact graduate student researcher, Sarah Clements at


Building Connections: From Farm to Restaurant, 2020

Farm to Restaurant report title page image

This project aimed to understand the demand, benefits, challenges and opportunities for farm to restaurant supply channels in the South Okanagan region of BC. The study included a consumer survey to determine demand for local food in restaurants, in-depth interviews with chefs and farmers to tease out opportunties and challenges, and a networking event for chefs and farmers to meet and build business relationships. This project was supported by the Community Food Action Initiative in cooperation with Interior Health.  








The Future of B.C.'s Food System

Cover Page

In July 2019, the province of British Columbia appointed the B.C. Food Security Task Force - based on a commitment made in the 2019 Throne Speech. The Task Force has a mandate to provide recommendations on how to apply agri-technologies (“agritech”) to enhance agricultural productivity, economic competitiveness and sustainability ; grow the emerging agritech sector in B.C. as a standalone economic sector ; and support the objectives of CleanBC through the adoption of technologies and practices that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase access to fresh, healthy food and stimulate local economic activity.

In January 2020, the Task Force released findings and recommendations from their work entitled The Future of B.C.'s Food System. The Task Force advances recommendations for agritech-centred approach to sustainably increase domestic food production, eradicate food security and hunger, and increase economic prosperity and competitiveness of B.C.'s agriculture sector.

While we believe that technology has a role to play in the development of sustainable food systems, we also strongly believe that it should not be viewed as a silver bullet for the food system. In our PDF icon Response to the Findings and Recommendations of the BC Food Security Task Force, we present information that was overlooked in the report, as well as perspectives that call into question the extent to which agritech can, or should, be relied upon to contribute to, and shape our food system future in British Columbia. 




BC Agriculture and Food Co-operatives Survey, 2019

BC Co-op Survey title page image

In partnership Ministry of Agriculture, the ISFS recently completed the 2019 BC Agriculture and Food Co-operatives Survey. Funding for this study was provided by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The project began in February 2019 and concluded in October 2019. The project involved creating a database of 72 contemporary agriculture and food cooperatives in BC. All 72 co-ops were contacted. 33 co-ops participated in the British Columbia Agriculture and Food Co-operative Survey, from which 15 co-ops participated in in-depth interviews.