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Building Connections: From Farm to Restaurant, 2020

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 opporunties 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. 

PDF icon Final Report: Building Connections - From Farm to Restaurant 2020

BC Agriculture and Food Co-operatives Survey, 2019

The project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). Funding for this study was provided by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The project began in February 2019 and concluded in October 2019. The study focused on the following research questions:

  1. How many agriculture and food cooperatives operate in British Columbia?
  2. What business structures and models are employed by these cooperatives?
  3. What are the economic turnover and food system impacts of agriculture and food cooperatives in British Columbia?
  4. What advantages are realized through cooperative business structures?
  5. What are current challenges to agriculture and food cooperatives emanating from their business structure?
  6. What support structures and policies would be needed to ensure the continued operation of co-operatives’ and support co-operatives as a viable business model in BC?

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.

Okanagan Bioregion Institutional Procurement Study

Study reports, available for download:

The Okanagan Bioregion Institutional Procurement Study undertakes a gap analysis and opportunities study for bringing local food into governmental institutions. The study explores how successful local procurement initiatives can be established in the Okanagan bioregion. The main objectives of the project are to:

  • Assess current capacity of local primary crop and livestock producers
  • Assess current post production capacity • Identify the institutional food procurement supply chain through case studies and assess economic opportunity, procurement logistics and gaps
  • Investigate the role of a food processing innovation centre in increasing institutional procurement of local food
  • Identify other supports needed to increase local food procurement in the region.

FLEdGE (Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged)

ISFS is pleased to be participating in the "FLEdGE" research and knowledge sharing partnership, which is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and led by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at Wilfred Laurier University. The partnership involves over seventy Canadian and international participants using research partnerships to explore the current and potential role of community food initiatives to act as pillars of regional, sustainable transformation. ISFS forms part of FLEdGE's Alberta/BC Research Node along with the University of Alberta. More information about FLEdGE is available at

Best Business Practices for Farmers' Markets Farmers in BC

ISFS is working on a BC Association of Farmers' Markets (BCAFM)-led project to develop a resource guide that highlights successful farmers' market farmers and communicate their best business and operations management practices. The project was completed through a partnership between the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems and BC Association of Farmers' Markets. Funding was provided by the Investment Agriculture Foundation and VanCity.

Project Purpose:

Document and share best business and management practices of farmers selling at BC farmers' markets, in order to:
1. Identify the path to a successful small-scale, direct market farming operation.
2. Develop a strong direction and support for the local, direct market food system.
3. Increase awareness of small scale farmers selling direct to the public through farmers' markets, within the farming sector and amongst consumers.

This project concluded in the summer of 2017. The following resources are available to the public.

  • PDF icon Guide Book:Successful Farmers' Market Farmers in BC - Business Management Lessons from 15 Case Studies
  • PDF icon Marketing Toolkit: Best Business Practices in Marketing for Farmers' Market Farmers
  • PDF icon Webinar: Best Business Practices for Farmers Selling at BC Farmers' Markets

Langley Urban Agriculture Demonstration Project

Urban agriculture is not a new concept, however some of the capacity to understand how food production can fit into modern cities has been lost. It is also recognized that local governments have a significant role to play in supporting urban food production through planning, implementation and operational phases.  The Langley Urban Agriculture Demonstration Project is a planning and design collaboration led by ISFS which that aims to bring urban agriculture to 10 ha. BC Hydro transmission right of way (ROW) in the City of Langley. Funded by Metro Vancouver through the Sustainability Innovation Fund, and aims to field test an approach that can be replicated in other municipalities across the region. This one year detailed project planning phase was proposed as a part of the Langley-MSA Demonstration Site proposal from 2010.

Map of Langley Project Site

The detailed planning phase of the project was completed in early 2018. Site plans and project reports were presented to City of Langley Staff and Council. Council voted to not proceed with the next steps of the project at this time, which would include developing a business case for the project, securing funding for implementation, and reaching out to possible community partners.

Fostering Regional Food Systems

The goal of this three year (2016-2019) project is to empower the implementation of innovative approaches to community development in the area of food systems. The ISFS team will engage in research and knowledge mobilization with community partners, including municipal government, private sector and non-governmental groups, to generate knowledge and build tools that enable communities in the Lower Mainland of BC to develop and adopt a regional food system model. Land availability and accessibility will be specific foci.

The project's three objectives are to:

  1. Document regional food systems projects and initiatives (previous and current) being carried out in Canda and the USA to facilitate increased collaboration between researchers ad community partners engaged in regional food systems development.
  2. Develop and analyze primary databases for two of BC's largest, fastest growing cities (Richmond and Surrey) regarding agricultural land valuation, ownership and revenue potential to inform policy development guidelines empowering communities to build sustainable, vibrant regional food systems.
  3. Develop knowledge mobilization mechanisms (publications, workshops, conferences) and an online Food Systems Resource Hub.

This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Building an Accessible Food System Policy Database for BC Communities

ISFS researchers are developing an open access, searchable policy bank for use by municipal planners, policy makers and community organizations working to advance local food systems. The policy bank will be a compendium of up-to-date British Columbia municipal policy and zoning bylaws that directly and indirectly enable local food systems. Policies and bylaws will include, among others, those related to increasing local production; to developing capacity for processing and distribution of locally produced foods to local consumer markets; food waste management; protection of agricultural land and water; and support for new farmers.

The policy bank will support increased local food production in two ways: first it will benefit municipal planners who are charged with researching, proposing and preparing new policy for their communities. The policy bank will provide examples of policy language that has been successfully adopted in other municipalities. The bank will be accessible to community groups and individuals who want to promote and advocate for local food production policy with their local governments. Examples of existing policy can be used to demonstrate the feasibility and desirability of adopting a specific policy or bylaw.

This project has been funded by the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

Visit the database: 

Home on The Range: Cost Pressures and the Price of Farmland in Metro Vancouver

ISFS worked in partnership with the BC Food Systems Network on a small research project, commissioned by Vancity, to investigate reasons behind the high price of agricultural land in Metro Vancouver and how these prices impact the viability of farm businesses and the potential to expand our local food system. The report documents the region's high farmland prices and calls for policy to address the high price of farmland, increase the amount of actively farmed land, and discourage the non-farm use of ALR land in the region. The full report is available here.

The Southwest BC Bioregion Food System Design Project

The Southwest BC Bioregion Food System Design Project was a three year, multi-disciplinary research project initiated by ISFS and generously funded by the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Vancity, the Vancouver Foundation, the R. Howard Webster Foundation, and nine local governments. It explored the explore the economic, environmental stewardship and food self-reliance potential of a bioregional food system in Southwest BC (SWBC). The project is now complete. To access final reports, please navigate to the Southwest BC Project page

Tr'ondek Hwech'in Teaching & Working Farm Business Plan

In the summer of 2015, ISFS worked with the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation (TH), whose Traditional Territories are located near Dawson City, Yukon, to develop a 5-year farm business plan for their nascent teaching and working farm. This farm is being developed by TH in collaboration with Yukon College and will provide fresh and affordable farm products, as well as agriculture education to encourage the learning of farm skills to TH citizens and community. The business plan completed by ISFS is a tool that will assess the feasibility (potentials, attributed and vulnerabilities) and financial viability of the proposed teaching and working farm. The business plan included:

  • A market analysis;
  • Requirements for farm operations, infrastructure, and human resources;
  • Initial capital costs, annual operating costs and projections of net annual revenue;
  • Net revenue sensitivity to external factors;
  • Indicators to evaluate the farm's performance;
  • A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.

Data to inform the business was collected through primary and secondary resources. Primary resources included facilitating focus groups with TH community members; interviews with producers, restaurant chefs, grocery store owners, and city officials, mining company representatives and observations at the farmers' market. Secondary resources included a literature research on previous market research analysis on the community.

For more information on the TH working and teaching farm, please visit the TH website at:

Local Food Futures for BC: Findings from Regional Dialogues

In the Fall of 2014, ISFS Researchers Dr. Cornelia Sussmann and Caitriona Feeney facilitated six dialogues on the Future of Local Food Systems throughout British Columbia. The purpose of the Dialogues was to understand how people envision sustainable food systems for their regions; to identify regional priorities for action; and to gather recommendations for specific actions to support and encourage development of sustainable, local food systems. The Dialogues were conceived by the BC Sustainable Food Systems Working Group, and were funded by the Real Estate Foundation of BC.

The dialogues were held in Prince George, Cranbrook, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo and Richmond, and participants were invited on the basis of their engagement with local and sustainable food systems in their regions, and were selected to represent: food producers; community leaders; provincial health authorities; agrologists; First Nations; planners; government and academics.

From the Dialogue data, four province-wide priorities for action toward sustainable, local food systems were identified:

  1. Increase knowledge about sustainable local food systems among the general public and policy makers;
  2. Expand local infrastructure for food processing, storage, and distribution;
  3. Support and encourage established farmers and new entrants to all food system industries; and
  4. Protect, enhance and maintain access to agricultural land (foodland) and water

The dialogues garnered quite of bit of attention and resulted in a webinar hosted by the Real Estate Foundation of BC, numerous newspaper articles and invitations to speak to food system industry groups. Read more in the project report, Local Food Futures for BC: Findings from Regional Dialogues.

Southwest British Columbia Small Scale Farm Enterprise Budgets

In 2015 ISFS published 26 Enterprise Budgets for common vegetable and livestock enterprises in southwest British Columbia. An enterprise budget projects the costs and returns of growing and selling a particular crop or livestock over a period of time. It comprises of a simple listing of income and expenses, based on a set of assumptions. An enterprise budget is a physical plan because it indicates the types and quantities of production inputs and output; as well as a financial plan because it assigns costs to all inputs used in producing the enterprise. ISFS's enterprise budgets are specific for small-scale farm operation whose products are sold mainly through direct marketing channels, such as farmers' markets and CSA box program.

Each budget is prepared in a pdf format with accompanying Excel spreadsheet. The user-friendly spreadsheets allow you to enter your own inputs. Download all 26 budgets and the user guide on our Enterprise Budgets page. This project was generously funded by Vancity.

The Yukon Food System Design and Planning Project

The Yukon Food Sytem Design and Planning Project was a two-phase project that began in 2012. Phase I was completed in partnership with the Yukon Agricultural Association and final reports from that Phase can be downloaded below.

Yukon Food System Design and Planning Project Phase I Reports:

Surrey's Underutilized ALR Lands: An Analysis of their Economic and Food Production Potential in Direct Market Agriculture

In an effort to strengthen internal planning and policy for agriculture, the City of Surrey funded ISFS to conduct research aimed at strengthening municipal planning and policy for local, small lot agriculture on underutilized ALR lands in the municipality. The overarching objective of this research was to inform Surrey as to how it could:

  • Halt further loss of lands from the ALR and A1 zones
  • Encourage food production on ALR lands currently underutilized for agriculture
  • Enhance the economic viability of production of food for the local market on ALR lands that are currently underutilized for agriculture and position this local scale agriculture to become an economic development and employment driver that flourishes in complement to existing large scale commodity agriculture
  • Increase consumption of locally produced and sold fresh fruits and vegetables

View the Full Report or our article published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

Creating the Framework for a Regional Food System Management Plan: A Case Study of the Sea to Sky Bioregion

Food System ManagmentThe reality of rising food prices, climate change, peak oil and peak water has mobilized communities and municipal governments to take food security and sovereignty more seriously. However, there is a lack of 'how-to' guides or frameworks for developing local and regional food strategies that can be implemented. The purpose of this project was to create a framework for a Regional Food System Management Plan (RFSMP) for the Sea to Sky bioregion, which encompasses the communities of Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Lillooet. This project used a community supported, collaborative approach to promote sustainability by building capacity with the objective of enhancing food self-reliance.

Sustainable Agriculture on the Southlands: Connecting People and Community with Agriculture

There is a growing body of literature suggesting that our agri-food systems need to be reconfigured in sustainable ways, and that adaptability and resilience requires more of a balance between local and global patterns of food production, distribution and consumption. This has important ramifications for how we design and retrofit communities to ensure that they flourish. In this research project we are working to advance a unique and dynamic approach for the full integration of a local agri-food system within the planning, design, development and function of urbanized communities thereby creating enhanced food security, economic opportunity and reconnecting urban-culture with agri-culture.

British Columbia is at an important crossroads in terms of issues of food security (supply) and food sovereignty (control). Local and regional authorities and the Government of British Columbia, have an opportunity to take a leadership role in the community of Tsawwassen, South Delta, BC with the proposed agriculture and community development project.

KPU's Institute for Sustainable Horticulture researched how Community Trust Farming (CTF), similar to land trusts, and related dimensions of local scale, human intensive and direct market agriculture can contribute directly and substantively to advancing the economic, social and ecological vitality and sustainability of the proposed farmscape and supporting development. The resulting plan for the Southlands is to build a modern community on a portion of the 536.7 acre property while using part of the "value-lift" from re-zoning to ensure that human-intensive local food production and sustainable agriculture remain central to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the community. This approach is consistent with the original goals of the Agricultural Land Reserve and, as a test case, can serve to strengthen the ALR to meet the challenges of sustainable agriculture in the 21st Century's urban reality. The Southlands can demonstrate that where farmland and the urban edge intersect, the result can enhance sustainable agriculture and if appropriately planned and executed, bolster the protected reserve of provincial agriculture lands. In doing so the Southlands has the potential to model one dimension of a sustainable future for British Columbia.