Individual Presentation Sessions

Presentation titles, abstracts and presenters' bios are posted below. Conference program will be posted in early June.

Institutional Procurement & Communities of Practices


Creating a Local Food Procurement Community of Practice: The Alberta Flavour Learning La



Mary Beckie (author, presenter)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, AB


Leanne Hedberg (author)

PhD Candidate, Melville School of Business, University of Alberta, AB


Jessie Radies (author)

Director of Agriculture, Northlands Agriculture Society, AB


Mary Beckie is Associate Professor and Director of Community Engagement Studies at the University of Alberta. Her research on sustainable, localized agri-food systems has taken place in western Canada, the European Union, Cuba, India and Sri Lanka. Mary is the academic lead for the AB/BC node of the FLEdGE research project.


ABSTRACT. In order for local food initiatives (LFIs) to have a transformative effect on the larger food system, greater levels of economic, organizational and physical scale are needed. One way for LFIs to reach the scale necessary to generate a more significant impact is through increased institutional procurement of local foods. But how do people and organizations come together to generate the social infrastructure required to shift food purchasing practices and processes? In this presentation we report on an innovative community of practice consisting of institutional food buyers, large-scale distributors, regional online retailers, processors, producers, researchers, municipal and provincial government representatives within the Edmonton city-region that formed for the express purpose of “creating a positive community impact by getting more local foods on more local plates”. In describing the formation and first three years of the Alberta Flavour Learning Lab we examine the unique characteristics of this community of practice that has aided the development of a common framework for learning, understanding and joint action. In addition to the accomplishments to date, we also discuss the challenges faced by the Learning Lab and the strategies used to overcome them. 



Links, Chains, and Networks: Impacts of Value Chain Coordination in Developing Regional Food Economies



Sarah Rocker

PhD Candidate, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education, Penn State University, PA 


ABSTRACT. Oft referenced, but not well understood, social networks are said to be critical to the growth and success of placed based economic development.  This research brings to light greater nuance around the ways in which social networks are intentionally fostered to promote greater collaboration of local and regionally proximal value chain actors. This research is a part of the broader research and evaluation strategy of the Food LINC initiative, a public-private partnership between USDA and the Wallace Center, to provide training and support to value chain coordinator (VCC) organizations, who are professionals of the “softer” social side of food systems development work.  VCCs perform a variety of roles which include: convening, matchmaking, innovating, providing technical assistance, resource prospecting and advocating for policy in order to create more connected, regionally-focused value chains of producers, processors, buyers and consumers. This talk presents the cases of two Food LINC supported VCC communities and utilizes social network analysis (SNA) of VCC-organized convening events to understand how value chain relationships form and develop over time. The findings from this research include qualitative and social network data gathered over two years, a discussion of factors that limit and promote relationship building among regional value chain actors, and the roles of value chain coordinator organizations in fostering network connections over time


Sarah Rocker is a PhD candidate in Rural Sociology in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education, and researcher with the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State University. Her interests lie at the intersection of food systems, agricultural change and development. Using an integrated approach of social network analysis and qualitative methods, her work explores placed-based value chain coordination efforts and resulting impacts for suppliers, producers and buyers in diverse communities across the U.S.


The Food Commons: A New Economic Paradigm and Whole System Approach for Regional Food



Jamie Harvie

Executive Director Institute for a Sustainable Future, Coordinating Director The Food Commons, MN


ABSTRACT. The economic model for the U.S. food and agricultural industry is predicated on scale, technology, centralization and consolidation serving large enterprises and global markets. It is widely recognized that this industrial food system—how we currently produce and distribute food—is intimately linked to the declining health of individuals, communities and the planet. Over the last two decades, we have observed an important and necessary response to the industrialized food model. One notable example is The Food Commons model, a new economic paradigm and whole system approach in which the interests of farm communities and local people, the land, watersheds and biodiversity are all considered together. The first prototype, Food Commons Fresno, is based in the heart of the industrial food industry, home to a nearly $8 billion agriculture industry, but also which hosts the zip codes with some of the highest rates of persistent poverty, pollution, obesity and diabetes, and food insecurity in the country. The Food Commons Fresno Community Trust (FCFCT) owns a majority of the subsidiary benefit community corporation (CC) in conjunction with a community ownership. The CC runs a CSA-like distribution operation, a wholesale hub delivers fresh produce, dairy and other local food products to more than 30 local restaurants and to schools, universities and hospitals, and the commissary kitchen serves local food trucks and bicycle-powered food carts. The FCFCT also manages the landmark 75-acre organic Road 20 Farm, completing a value chain from farm to fork. Key principles are  embedded in the organizational DNA of The Food Commons and include 1) Fairness 2) Sustainability and Stewardship 3) Economic Opportunity 4) Food Sovereignty 5) Holism and Integration 6) Transparency 7) Ethics and Accountability 8) The Commons 9) Subsidiarity 10) Reciprocity and 11) Representation and Decision-making providing a replicable model consistent with ecological principles.


Jamie is the Executive Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Future and Coordinating Director of The Food Commons. Working with clinical and healthcare partners Jamie initiated and led the successful phase out of healthcare mercury product use across the United States and globally. He founded and directed the Healthy Food in Healthcare Initiative a nationwide collaboration of NGOs, clinicians and healthcare partners to transform healthcare food policy and practice change prevention models. He founded Commons Health, to advance the essential ecological principles that underlie health and which are underpinning the transformation of healthcare, economics, and foods systems. His recognition includes the NRDC “National Thought Leader” award and the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Public Health Achievement Award and is author of numerous peer reviewed journal articles. His hobbies include cooking, acting, sculpture and skiing. Trained as a civil engineer, he was born near Montreal, Canada and currently resides in Duluth, MN.



Case Studies in Urban Agriculture: Policy Implementation & Implications

What makes food policies happen? Insights from Portuguese initiatives



Cecília Delgado

Main Researcher, CICS.NOVA, Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences. Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas – Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal


ABSTRACT. This paper presents an exploration on the drivers and constraints that make food policies happen, substantiated by four paradigmatic Portuguese Urban Agriculture [UA] and food related initiatives: two municipalities, Funchal and Seixal; and two Non-Governmental-Organizations [NGOs]. Time taken to materialise each initiative ranged from 13 years to 1 year.

Why UA and food initiatives take so long to materialise in Portugal and why existing initiatives don’t scale up from projects to policies, are the two key questions addressed in this paper. We argue that existing initiatives are mainly ruled as linear processes and with quite limited long-term political commitment. In-depth interviews were carried out with key-informants involved in the formulation of the four initiatives examined.


Findings are suggesting that political commitment and funding are the two critical points explaining why UA and food initiatives take so long in Portugal to materialise. Moreover, the findings are aligned with IPES–FOOD (2017) and RUAF-ICLEI (2013) conclusions on what makes food policy happen. Additionally, in-depth interviews with key-informants are highlighting as well additional constraints, notably the lack of several important facilitating tools such as: Initiatives monitoring and assessment; strong vertical multi-level governance and horizontal city based governance; significant participatory process for project implementation and for policy formulation.


Based on the results obtained so far, we conclude that constraints found in Portugal come mostly from governance related issues. Therefore, changes can only happen under a national supportive policy and a facilitating legal system based on vertical and horizontal multi-level governance and strong political commitment. To raise awareness among decision-makers is critical to the advancement of place-based UA initiatives as a component of the food systems. A national platform able to gather relevant data, assess and monitor ongoing initiatives may be the key-step to gather different stakeholders that can advocate and then lead to higher political commitment in Portugal.


Cecília Delgado is a Portuguese Post-doctoral and Urban Planner and Architect with extensive experience as a university lecturer and researcher. Currently she is affiliated to CICS.NOVA, Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences, at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, working as researcher on public policies, land use planning, urban and peri-urban agriculture, and local development. During the last five year she has worked predominantly on: Urban Agriculture; Urban Food Policies; Urban Food Systems; Urban - Rural Linkages; Cities; Innovations in urban planning; Participatory methods; Gender mainstreaming in public policies. Since 2014 she focuses on the project - Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture for sustainable local development: The Multi-stakeholder Policy Action Planning as a tool for reconciling sectorial policies. Under the mentioned project has been collecting primary data in order to build a critical revision of existing food policies worldwide.  At national level Cecilia Delgado has been working with local governments and non-profit organizations, on UA processes. .



Growing in the City: Expanding Opportunities for Urban Food Production in Victoria



Virginie Lavallée-Picard

Food Systems Coordinator, City of Victoria, BC


ABSTRACT. Growing in the City is a municipally led initiative developed to increase the amount of food grown within the City of Victoria. A comprehensive strategy to update and expand policies and guidelines enabling urban food production was launched in 2016. This paper describes the project background, the nature and goals of the policy and program changes, and the implementation process and early outcomes. It focuses on the specific initiatives that enable small-scale commercial urban food production, and community programs that support urban food production in the public realm. These programs include community gardens, boulevard gardening, an inventory of City-owned land with community gardening potential, and a pilot program to plant food trees on City land. This paper explores if and how Growing in the City is achieving its goals to identify and discuss success factors, challenges and areas for improvement. The conclusion provides general observations and considerations for the ongoing integration of food systems into City planning. 


Virginie is the Food Systems Coordinator with the City of Victoria. She has studied and worked in the fields of food system planning and bio-intensive agriculture for 15 years. Virginie helps implement Growing in the City, an initiative aiming to support urban food production in Victoria. Virginie also operates a certified organic vegetable farm with her partner in Metchosin, BC.



Growing Food in the City: Urban Agriculture Through the Lens of Feminist Political Ecology



Laine Young

PhD candidate, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Wilfrid Laurier University, ON


ABSTRACT. While much research has been done on urban agriculture (UA) across the globe, less is known about the impact of gender and the implications on access to food, social relationships, and power relations. More work needs to be done on how to link place-based UA case studies across difference to promote transformational change in policy and development. In addition, more work is needed that explores gendered experiences of UA and how intersections of social location affect how a person experiences and accesses UA and its varied benefits. This study explores gendered experiences of UA in two cities in Latin America, using feminist political ecology as a theoretical framework. It examines gender roles, practical and strategic needs, as well as exploring how power and control of resources affects day to day urban agriculture work and influences higher level gender inequalities. This research project is a collaboration with RUAF, a leading global partnership on sustainable urban agriculture and regional food systems, which undertakes food system work through cutting edge research and publications and on the ground programming to promote UA in cities across the world. Using a qualitative methodology, this inquiry will provide a much-needed gendered analysis of urban agriculture in the case study cities and will deliver valuable experiential knowledge to promote better projects globally. Exploring gendered experiences of UA can influence increased access to nutritious food for the most marginalized people, promote equality and inclusion, and improve urban environments. This paper is related to the stream of “Place-Based Food Systems, Policy and Governance” through the goal of determining if good practices can be developed at the case study level to promote UA globally through policy. This intersectional analysis will ensure that alternative ways of knowing are integrated into policy development around UA.


Laine Young is a PhD candidate in the Geography and Environmental Studies joint program between Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, and is affiliated with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. Laine has ten years experience in the non-profit sector and is currently working within several global food system networks. Her areas of interest are gender, feminism and urban agriculture. She integrates a feminist political ecology lens to her dissertation research in Ecuador as a way to understand the inequity and unequal power relations present in experiences of urban agriculture. Laine's work in Ecuador will explore the place-based practice of urban agriculture in Quito and the challenges and opportunities of implementing this in other cities in the country.



Embedding "Place" in Food Systems

Deep Bioregionalism as Antidote to the Illusion of Local Food




Michael Bomford

Instructor, Department of Sustainable Agriculture, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, BC


ABSTRACT. Bioregionalism is an attempt to restore a balanced relationship between human societies and ecosystems. Eating locally-produced food is promoted as an essential component of bioregionalism, with claims that it can reduce food system greenhouse gas emissions, restore closed-loop nutrient cycles, build soil health, and foster stronger connections between food producers and consumers. Private and publically-funded ‘buy local’ campaigns that emphasize such benefits appear to be successful; most purchasers say their preference for locally-sourced food outweighs other considerations. Contrary to popular perception, the distance between labelled place-of-origin and point-of-purchase is only weakly correlated with food system sustainability indicators. In some instances, distantly-sourced food products are more sustainable than their locally-sourced equivalents. For example, local greenhouse-grown products and products from local intensive livestock operations tend to generate more negative environmental externalities than distantly-sourced equivalents from lower-input operations. To strengthen the correlation between food procurement patterns and sustainability outcomes, I propose a distinction between deep and shallow bioregionalism, analogous to a similar distinction made in the realm of ecology. Evaluation of bioregionalism depth would be based on the degree of dependence of a lifecycle production chain on sustainable use of ecological services provided by a particular bioregion.


Michael Bomford teaches in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. His research investigates organic farming, agriculture and energy, and ecologically-based pest management. His primary research interest is the intersection between food and energy, including energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming and food systems, and renewable energy production in small farms. Prior to his current position, he spent 10 years at Kentucky State University leading research, extension, and teaching programs related to organic agriculture.



Placing Local Food in Alberta



Michael Granzow

PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, BC


ABSTRACT. Mounting concerns around the negative ecological, social, and individual health impacts of the dominant industrial food system have resulted in an expansion of local food initiatives across North America and the world. Central to many of these initiatives, and the food movement as a whole, is a re-centering of place (Feagan, 2007). In aiming to re-embed food within local geographies and social relations, local food initiatives represent an alternative to a dominant globalized food system characterized by processes of displacement. Yet, ideas of “local” and “place” are neither straightforward or uncontested (Born & Purcell, 2006; DuPuis & Goodman, 2005; Harvey, 1996; Hinrichs, 2003). Localizing processes such as shortening supply chains do not present a panacea for the complex web of problems that comprise the current food crisis. Defining local in relation to broader understandings and theories of place is crucial for any local food initiative. As Feagan (2007) writes, “how we determine the local in LFS will have to be contingent on the place – the social, ecological, and political circumstances which circumscribe it.” At the same time, local food initiatives play a role in actively shaping place through the forging new networks and infrastructures, and the telling of new stories. In this paper, we focus in on the idea of place, asking what a place-based food system means in the Alberta context. In addition to a more theoretical and culturally informed consideration of the meaning and possibilities of a place-based food system in Alberta, we look at a few recent innovative local food initiatives, with a focus on the Alberta Flavour Learning Lab. Established in 2014, the Learning Lab is a community of practice that regularly convenes a diverse group of actors including institutional food buyers, distributors, processors, producers, retailers, researchers, and government representatives. We consider the efforts of the Learning Lab as key moment in the making of a place-based food future in Alberta.


Born, B., & Purcell, M. (2006). Avoiding the local trap: Scale and food systems in planning research. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 26(2), 195-207.

DuPuis, E. M., & Goodman, D. (2005). Should we go “home” to eat?: Toward a reflexive politics of localism. Journal of Rural Studies, 21(3), 359-371.

Feagan, R. (2007). The place of food: Mapping out the ‘local’ in local food systems. Progress in Human Geography, 31(1), 23-42.

Harvey, D. (1996). Justice, nature, and the geography of difference. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell.

Hinrichs, C. C. (2003). The practice and politics of food system localization. Journal of Rural Studies, 19(1), 33-45.

Michael Granzow is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta. Michael has a background in social theory, and uses interdisciplinary approaches from sociology, cultural studies, and human geography to study cities and urban change. Research interests include the politics of public space, geographies of innovation, and resource ruins and legacies in western Canada. Michael’s current research looks at emerging social and cultural geographies of urban agriculture in the Global North.



Mapping US Local Food Systems: the Impact of Diet on Foodsheds



Julie Kurtz (Presenter, Author)

MS Candidate, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, MA


Christian Peters (Author)

Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, MA


ABSTRACT. A “foodshed” is the surrounding geographic area (land resources) required to feed a population center. If the conterminous U.S. prioritized food production for local populations, how far would food need to travel to satisfy the entire population, and how would that distance vary in different regions of the country? We modelled the biophysical limits and possibilities of regional food systems based on total cropland, its productivity, population, and 6 diet scenarios ranging from meat-intensive to vegan. The analysis estimates foodshed size and “food miles” (or kilometres) for 378 U.S. metropolitan centers, in a hypothetical nationwide closed system that prioritizes local food. Our results demonstrate that regional population competition, local cropland availability, and diet type primarily determine foodshed size and the cropland resources required to feed regional populations. Our results indicated that average U.S. “food kilometres” (the weighted average food kilometres travelled) depends on diet, ranging from 619 km (standard American baseline diet) to 457 km (vegetarian diet). The maximum “food kilometres” travelled to satisfy the food needs of a metropolitan area (in the Northeast) ranged from 1519 km (baseline diet) to 1170 km (20% omnivorous diet); the minimum distance was zero. Within current debates regarding the economic, environmental and health benefits of local food, it is essential to understand the feasibility for local food systems to scale, and the contribution of diet preferences in sustainable regional food viability.


Julie Kurtz researches the interrelated benefits of nutrition, environmental sustainability and social equity in food and agriculture systems. In her work with Migrant Justice in Vermont, she supports farmerworkers’ ongoing advocacy for better work and living conditions on Northeast dairy farms. She has studied food systems in the U.S., Latin America and Malawi, with particular interest in the market structures and policies that support healthy farms, healthy people, and vibrant rural communities. Ms. Kurtz holds a Masters in Agriculture, Food & Environment from the Friedman School at Tufts University.



Public Food Systems Education & Institutional Partnerships

Place Based Education for Regional Food Systems: The Case of the UMD Land Lab



Randel Hanson

Director, UMD Land Lab, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN


ABSTRACT. This presentation explores the development of the University of Minnesota Duluth Land Lab (ULL), a 30 acre a campus and community laboratory for solutions-oriented research, teaching and public engagement in regionally adaptive, sustainable agrifood systems in the western Lake Superior region. Founded in 2009, the ULL revitalizes lands formerly part of the Northeast Agricultural Experimental Station (NAES), which played a key role in building a local agrifood system in the western Lake Superior region in the early 20th century against the backdrop of mining and timber activities.  Active from 1912-1976, the NAES closed as the industrial agrifood system consolidated its reach across production, consumption and educational sectors. 

Since its founding, the ULL has evolved to play three interrelated functions in serving as a vehicle for public support of a place based agrifood system:


  1. University Farm, exposing students (1,000 annually) to experiential education that supplements their theoretical understanding of the complex issues of global ecology within a regional landscape-scale context, mobilized specifically around place based sustainable agriculture;
  2. Community Food Systems Incubator, in which institutional partnerships and community collaborations create on-site projects that advance sustainability goals on and off campus while providing cross generational and cross sector learning opportunities for students and general citizens alike; and a
  3. Land-based Research Lab, where research opportunities focused on the nexus of agriculture, food, water, energy and biodiversity meet for longitudinal action projects


My presentation will explore the challenges of establishing and maintaining a public site for place-based interventions around regional agrifood systems against the backdrop of neo-liberal educational imperatives.  It will demonstrate how strategic collaborations among researchers, teachers, politicians, farmers and community partners can leverage public resources, but it will also point toward the very real limits in challenging the globalizing mentality and practice embedded in US society as they get articulated regionally. 


Randel D. Hanson, Ph.D. is Co-Director of the Program in Environment and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where he works on food systems, sustainability, and human-environmental relationships.  He is a founder and director of the UMD Land Lab, aka the SAP Farm, a thirty acre organic farm that serves as a platform for experiential-based teaching, research and community engagement in the western Lake Superior bioregion.  Prior to joining UMD, he held faculty positions at Rice University and Arizona State University.  Hanson has been involved in community food systems transformation activities in the Western Lake Superior Region and Minnesota more broadly.  He is a Fellow with the Institute on the Environment and is currently the 2017-2018 Endowed Chair in Agriculture Systems with the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Sciences.



Telling a new story: working together to build place-based food systems in the Palouse-Clearwater region of the US Inland Northwest



Colette DePhelps (author, presenter)

Area Educator, Community Food Systems, Northern District Extension, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Idaho, ID


Darin Saul (author, presenter)

Director, Office of Grant and Project Development, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Idaho, ID


Soren Newman (author, presenter)

Senior Researcher, Office of Grant and Project Development, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Idaho, ID


ABSTRACT. Place-based food systems in the US Inland Northwest have arisen from a combination of individual entrepreneurism, organizational leadership, unique partnerships, and synergistic relationships across communities and the larger region.  Founded on values-based relationships and a shared vision of the future, the local food narratives that have emerged during the development process have framed and shaped the character of these food systems and their expansion over time. From early adopters and the first stirrings of cultural change to development of a thriving local foods culture and economy, the Palouse-Clearwater region of southeastern Washington and north central Idaho has seen remarkable place-based food system development through decades of hard work by a broad variety of players. 


In the Palouse-Clearwater region, University of Idaho Extension faculty and non-profit staff have been co-leaders in place-based food system development. As co-leaders, they have taken a participatory approach to working with farmers and ranchers, retailers, restauranteurs, community practitioners and university researchers and staff to understand and overcome barriers and nurture place-based food systems development. This has led to a rich exchange of ideas and resources between community members spearheading the local food scene and the university and the successful implementation of multiple research and education projects.


Taking a historical look at place-based food system development in the Palouse-Clearwater region provides a framework for understanding how public-private partnerships in research and education have helped address critical barriers identified through ongoing participatory processes.  Food systems development takes time, as do participatory processes.  Key to the success of these processes is the over 20 years’ experience the leadership team has working on place-based food systems development from both non-profits and university perspectives in the Palouse-Clearwater region.


The value of taking a participatory approach to placed-based food systems development can be seen in the regions ability to sustain partnerships, relationships, and resources supporting on-the-ground change even as individual leader’s roles in the food system have changed.  Another result of the participatory process is the development of a shared narrative, the stories of the food system that bind long-term partners and encourage new collaborations.  These stories provide the baseline understanding of priorities that underlie current research and education programs.  It is this shared knowledge that fosters the relationships and power of practitioner/activist/university partnerships necessary for overcoming barriers to food system expansion.


While the historical development of local food systems in the Palouse-Clearwater region provides context for understanding current research on barriers, opportunities, and strategies for place-based food systems development, authenticity and trust are increasingly important as the rate of place-based food systems development has accelerated.  Each participant in the participatory process comes from a different cultural context – be it organizational, familial or otherwise – and it is through dialogue and joint programming that understanding, appreciation and trust has been built. 


Colette DePhelps is a Community Food Systems Area Extension Educator with the University of Idaho. Based in Moscow (north Idaho), Colette’s current work includes expanding markets for small farms, beginning farmer education, food system development, on-farm food safety education and farm-to-school. She has 24 years’ experience working with farmers, non-profits, government agencies, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho to develop and offer small farm and community food systems programs in the Palouse region of Idaho and Washington.  Colette serves on Western Center for Risk Management Education Advisory Council and several community initiatives including the City of Moscow Farmers Market Commission, the Palouse-Clearwater Food Coalition, and the Palouse Prairie Charter School Wellness Committee.  Prior to working with University of Idaho Extension, Colette co-founded and worked for Rural Roots, a Moscow-based small farm non-profit organization.


Darin Saul has 23 years of experience in research, assessment, planning, and outreach on a wide array of topics from watershed assessment and food systems research to health and education needs assessments and evaluations. He has written and collaborated on over 100 plans, assessments, evaluations, reports, and articles. He has started and directed two companies and a non-profit organization and has extensive experience working with non-profit organizations and Native American tribes on research, planning, and organizational development. Saul is currently the director of the Office of Grant and Project Development in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at University of Idaho, where he has directed and participated in research and extension projects focused on developing supply chains for small farm production of vegetables and livestock for local and regional markets. Saul received a Ph.D. in English from Washington State University in 1996.


Soren Newman’s research focuses on the themes of rural community development, resilience, and natural resources. Her recent projects include evaluating how to improve Idaho producers’ access to local and regional restaurant and grocery markets, working with farmers and ranchers to conduct a food system assessment in southeast Idaho, and evaluating feasibility of developing USDA-inspected livestock processing in northern Idaho. Recent projects also include exploring stakeholders’ perspectives on wood-based bioenergy development in the Inland Northwest and understanding communities’ capacity to adapt to environmental hazards, such as wildfire. Soren earned a Ph.D. in Natural Resource and Environmental Science from Washington State University in 2013 and has bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Sociology from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in Sociology from Washington State University.



Paradox of Plants and Place: Local Gardens Grow Global Goals



Tara Moreau (author, presenter)

Associate Director of Sustainability and Community Programs at UBC Botanical Garden


Wendee Lang (author, presenter)

SCARP MCRP and Wellbeing Scholar UBC Sustainability Scholars Program


Ari Novy (author)


In the era of the Anthropocene, urgent and collective action across local and global levels is required to address current and future food security. The planted landscape is a primary determinant of identity and attachment to place. Our plant-based food palate is a reflection of our cultural identities. While current sustainability guidance promotes local and native plants in both our landscapes and food systems, most consumed food comes from plants grown outside their native ranges. Both our food systems and our landscapes are complex tapestries of native and non-native plants. While we may be able to successfully replace most of our ornamental landscape plants with native alternatives, it is neither practical nor desirable to do the same for food systems. There is no reason to take the tomatoes out of Italy, the chili peppers away from Thailand, or the canola out of Canada. The home rose gardener wants to keep gardening roses outside the native ranges of roses. Nonetheless, diversification of the food systems with more indigenous crops, higher rates of local agricultural production, and more environmentally friendly, native landscape plantings are desirous for many metro areas.


Both globally and locally, botanical gardens are important players in fostering place-based attachment to plants and landscapes, as well as providing trusted education about science-based environmental stewardship meant to improve environmental and human health. Through the lens of the Anthropocene, agroecology, food literacy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) we explore how gardens are engaging the public on complex and sometimes paradoxical issues related to locality. We provide case studies from several botanic gardens and allied institutions to demonstrate how gardens are acting as place-based education and research hubs. These planted landscapes aim to empower guests and ensure that plant life survives to sustain us, our food systems and our future.


Dr. Tara Moreau is Associate Director of Sustainability and Community Programs at UBC Botanical Garden where she manages educational programs, sustainability initiatives and community outreach through programs and partnerships such as the Sustainable Communities Field School, Grow Green Guide, and CBIRD. Her work interests climate change, food security, sustainability education, agricultural biodiversity, pest management and community development.


Tara has over 15 years of food systems experience. She has worked as a consultant with the UN-FAO and is a long-standing member of the Vancouver Food Policy Council.  She completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions through a joint appointment at UBC and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She holds a PhD in Plant Science from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (UBC, 2010), an MSc in Agriculture (Dalhousie University, 2004) and a BSc in Biology & Environmental Science (Bishops University, 2000).  She is a long-standing board member at SPEC a Vancouver-based environmental NGO.



Indigenous Food Procurement: Policy & Perspectives

Eating in place: Mapping alternative food procurement in Canadian Indigenous communities



Jennifer Sumner (author, presenter)

Lecturer , OISE/University of Toronto, ON 


Derya Tarhan (author, presenter)
PhD Candidate, OISE/University of Toronto, ON


JJ McMurtry (author, presenter)

Associate Dean Programs ,York University, ON


ABSTRACT. Much has rightly been made in recent years about the intractable social, economic, and cultural issues facing Indigenous people (TRC 2015). However, media, academic and popular attention has largely remained on developing a general (often paternalistic) awareness of these problems rather than focusing on actually existing solutions.  This is particularly true in terms of food. The astronomical cost of fresh and nutritious food and the negative results of the ‘nutrition transition’ to lower-cost industrial food in Indigenous communities have been identified in some quarters, but not the collective solutions community residents have devised to overcome these challenges.


This proposed paper will focus on alternative food procurement in Canadian Indigenous communities, and how a networked web of neoliberal government policy, private-market profiteers and structural colonial oppression and racism has obstructed place-based, community-led sustainable food solutions offered by emerging and existing Indigenous social economy organizations and social enterprises.  Such solutions have generally been avoided in Canada because they do not fit easily into the prevailing neoliberal conception of economics, contradict the dominant narrative of a just Canada, and raise questions about what the economy should look like in an ideal world (McMurtry 2010).


The proposed paper will begin by outlining current government policy, as well as the predatory role that for-profit corporations play in ensuring Indigenous communities remain food deserts and sites of economic leakage (Loxley 2007). Then it will map sites of alternative food procurement in Indigenous communities.  Finally, it will discuss how Indigenous communities are building place-based food systems through community procurement, with a focus on societal change.  Research findings suggest several trends among these initiatives: they are place-based and respond directly to local problems; they are predominantly led by Indigenous communities and often supported by other organizations; most of them are food co-operatives; there is a surge in community and school gardens, some of which evolve into co-ops; and hospitals and universities are becoming involved with traditional foods.  Overall, this paper will illustrate replicable, scalable social enterprises that are having a demonstrably positive impact on food procurement in Indigenous communities, and suggest such enterprises be considered when developing place-based food systems.


Jennifer Sumner teaches in the Adult Education and Community Development Program of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include food studies, sustainable food systems, and the political economy of food, as well as globalization, sustainability, and organic agriculture. She is the author of the book Sustainability and the Civil Commons: Rural Communities in the Age of Globalization (University of Toronto Press 2005/2007), co-editor of Critical Perspectives in Food Studies (Oxford University Press 2012/2017), and editor of Learning, Food and Sustainability: Sites for Resistance and Change (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).



Dynamics and research trends in seafood consumption by coastal Indigenous peoples



Dr. Andrés M. Cisneros-Montemayor (presenter, author)

Nereus Program, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, BC


Dr. Yoshitaka Ota (author)

Nereus Program, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington, WA


ABSTRACT. Indigenous fisheries and their contexts and needs are largely absent in increasingly globalized marine resource management plans, especially those incorporating climate change. This follows from historical (and continuing) marginalization of such Peoples, and operational and ethical research considerations. This policy gap must be addressed to maintain cultural identities as we adapt to global changes, as noted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We review recent research on seafood consumption by Indigenous peoples, with results highlighting the vital role of seafood in contemporary coastal Indigenous diets worldwide. Decreasing consumption of traditional foods by Indigenous Peoples has been widely reported, but our available data showed uncertain trends across regions. Available information on this topic is increasing, mainly in the academic literature. Interestingly, fisheries-specific literature did not often address Indigenous fisheries, which we argue could highly benefit both these communities, and the research field more broadly as recognition for the importance of incorporating diverse goals in management increases. While specific efforts are required to better establish historical baselines, findings highlight a continuing vital role of seafood in traditional diets, practices, and identities of Indigenous communities that can form an integral part of fisheries-related social-ecological systems. The fundamental issue to address is not lack of data itself, but rather the historical and current relationships and roles that result in a lack of available data.


Dr. Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor is a Program Manager and Research Associate with the Nereus Program at the University of British Columbia, and specializes in applied resource economics. Linking field and theoretic work, he has studied the economics of ecotourism, competing fishing sectors, alternative management strategies and ecosystem approaches to policy, and Indigenous fisheries, in developing and developed regions including Belize, Canada, Central America, East Asia, Mexico, Patagonia, the USA and West Africa. Andrés holds a PhD and MSc in Resource Management and Environmental Studies (University of British Columbia), and a BSc in Marine Biology (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur). 



Analysis of foodsheds with Oji-Cree First Nation communities in Island Lake, Manitoba




Shirley Thompson

Associate Professor, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba


ABSTRACT. Basing a foodshed on traditional land use and occupancy maps from almost one hundred Indigenous harvesters in Island Lake, Manitoba is part of a First Nation planning process for these large road-less areas in northeast Manitoba. Island Lake communities are planning for mino bimaadiziwin, which is Oji-Cree for the good life, before roads, settlement and other development occurs in this area. Thousands of harvesting sites were mapped. Clearly, the harvesters in these communities are still active in traditional pursuits of hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering medicines as well as learning from the land.


The foodshed mapping of the Oji-Cree traditional diet requires incorporating wildlife’s habitat range, which extends the boundary of a foodshed map beyond harvesting sites to their source of food and shelter. For example, moose is an important land/water animal for food in Island Lake, which needs a large pristine watery habitat. Thus, the Island Lake foodshed includes large areas of moose habitat, which would provide traditional diet to feed the community and maintain ecological integrity.  As not every harvester was interviewed, other data besides harvesting sites, namely trapline boundaries, were used. These trapline boundaries are colonial administrative boundaries, which define where community members trap wildlife, with hunting, gathering, fishing and other cultural activities occurring at the same place.


The map biographies indicate harvesting is mainly in or adjacent to rivers and lakes in the Hayes Watershed, highlighting the importance of certain sub-watersheds. The quote that “Fishing is the farming of the north” describes how fish is a culturally important and staple food. Thus, sub-watersheds where people fish, hunt, trap travel and drink are pivotal for mino bimaadiziwin.  Recognizing water is the basis of all life, protecting the watershed may be key to protect traditional land uses. If contaminated, developed or damned the lakes and rivers downstream, wildlife, fishing, transportation and traditional uses are at risk. The communities identified large areas for community-led protection and smaller areas for farming and eco-tourism. The community sees mining and other development by outsiders as working against their ancestral claim to this land to develop for traditional land uses and community benefit.


Shirley Thompson is an associate professor at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba. Through community-led post-secondary programming and community development her work as the principal investigator with the  Mino Bimaadiziwin SSHRC partnership focuses on solutions to the Indigenous food crisis, including assisting Indigenous fishing co-ops, employment training programs with business plans and incorporation.   Check out our Website at




Alternative Models and Deeper Perspectives in Food Systems

Hidden Harvest’s Transformative Potential: Realized and Unrealized



Patricia Ballamingie (author, presenter)

Associate Professor, Carleton University, ON


Chloé Poitevin-DesRivières (author, presenter)

PhD candidate, Carleton University, ON


ABSTRACT. Drawing on an in-depth case study of Hidden Harvest Ottawa – a for-profit social enterprise that aims to legitimize and support the practice of harvesting fruits and nuts in urban areas, this article explores the subversive and transformative potential of place-based urban foraging. Section 1 briefly delineates the model employed, and its various substantive contributions to building community, adaptive capacity, prosperity, social capital, and community-based food security – all aspects of sustainable human economies. Section 2 situates Hidden Harvest as an illustrative example of Gibson-Graham’s notions of community/alternative/ethical economy – as one initiative that destabilizes hegemonic economic assumptions.  In fact, this case study raises profoundly political issues, such as: access to public space; failure of our dominant economic system to recognize and value Social Return on investment (SROI); and the ways that cities think of and deal with trees, food and waste. By making visible Hidden Harvest’s SROI – its non-economic return – we challenge traditional neoclassical economic assumptions, highlighting tensions between social economy and social entrepreneurship, and ultimately contribute to a resignification of the economy. Section 3 explores the possibilities and constraints of being run as a for-profit social enterprise (while sharing many similarities with civil society initiatives): from the construction of environmental subjectivities; to the explicit and expansive cultivation of community (remaining mindful to attempt to include marginalized communities); to the reliance on volunteer labour as a critical element of the means of production (and one that covertly teaches consumers the value of production). Throughout, we argue the state fails (through its policies and governance) to adequately embrace the transformative potential of Hidden Harvest due to epistemic blinders.


Patricia Ballamingie is an Associate Professor at Carleton University, cross-appointed in Geography & Environmental Studies and the Institute of Political Economy.  Her research interests include: localizing food systems and sustainable community; and environmental conflict and democracy.  She serves as co-lead of the Eastern Ontario Node of the Nourishing Communities: Sustainable Local Food Systems Research Group; and just finished 8+ years on the board of Just Food in Ottawa.


Chloé Poitevin-DesRivières is a PhD candidate at Carleton University in Geography (with a specialization in Political Economy). Throughout her studies, she has cultivated an interest in local food movements, eating cultures and alternative economies. In an attempt to turn her passion for beer and brewing into a thesis, Chloé’s doctoral work looks at the ways in which craft breweries in the Ottawa-Gatineau foodshed may be able to withstand the concentration of power in food systems by engaging in diverse economic practices. 



Self-Organized Economic Governance in Values-Based Food Economies: The Case for Alternatives to the Market Driven System



MaryAnn Martinez

Ph.D. Student, Leadership and Change, Antioch University, Farmer, Stanton Home, Great Barrington, MA


ABSTRACT. Our local and regional food systems are modelled on a failed market based economy. Research in progress (Trocchia-Baļķīts and Martinez 2018), suggests that 58.8% of local producers confirm a strong commitment to "place", as a factor in why they are a local food producers, and another 31% indicate that it is an important factor. Place being defined as a community of people, or physical community, and/or environment. As an effect of their commitment to place, these producers are committed to local/regional food production, rather than a growth imperative or accumulation of wealth.

This session will explore the externalities values-based food producers face operating in a market driven economy. We will consider how we, as scholars and activists, can “be there for” local and regional producers, while simultaneously working together to develop food economies of equity and justice. The key message for this session is that in the absence of corporate accountability and/or support on the federal policy level, local and regional self-organized governance is critical to the evolving and scaling across of a moral economy in place-based food systems. The methodological scope in which this thesis and questions are explored includes a review of current literature and research that points to the need to create local systems of support for food citizens that include non-monetary forms of economy, i.e. bartering, exchange, gifting, community cash, and time banks. While at the same time working to dismantle dysfunctional systems, and educate stakeholders and shareholders about alternatives to the profit driven market. 


MaryAnn Martinez is an interdisciplinary food systems scholar with a Master’s in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT. She is currently a PhD student at Antioch Graduate School of Leadership and Change, and an active researcher with interests in decentralized government, non-hierarchal leadership and social structures, the creation of diverse economies, and self-organized, values-based food systems. In addition, MaryAnn has over 10 years of experience as farmer with experience in both for profit and social enterprises. At the moment, she is grows food for the Life Needs Coop in Great Barrington, MA. Prior to farming she worked in municipal and non-profit operations and leadership. When she is not farming, researching, or writing MaryAnn will usually be found doing a CrossFit workout, playing scrabble, or hanging out with family, friends and pets.




Power, Praxis, and Inclusionary Othering: An Urban Bee Story



Jennifer Marshman

PhD Candidate, Wilfrid Laurier University, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, ON


ABSTRACT. A dualistic and dysfunctional human/nature relationship has resulted in myriad socio-ecological crises that significantly impact and threaten food systems and the planet, from global climate change, to soil degradation, to the loss of dozens of species every day.

Of particular concern are declines and threat to native pollinators that are integral to healthy and diverse food systems and cities. As co-creators of our environment, bees can act as both a bridge and a gateway: as a bridge they can provide a way of (re)connecting human and non-human nature, and as a gateway they can guide humans to a deeper understanding and connection with urban natures and food systems. My theoretical framework brings together intersecting themes from political ecology, the ecological humanities, and the informal economy. The convergence of intersecting themes is understood as a whole-of-community approach that moves us toward communities and food systems that are integrated, participatory, and grounded in eco-social justice and equity. I use urban bees as an illustrative example of how this convergence can be understood through praxis.  The key message is that healthy cities and food systems need a diversity of bees beyond honey bees, and there is a relevant link between the literatures on human well-being, contact with nature, and the kinds of urban environments that benefit bees. The needs of pollinating bees require small actions that can yield large benefits for all community members. Reconciling humans with the rest of the biotic community is a lofty goal, but may be attainable through a fundamental and radical shift in our thinking and ways of being together in an urbanizing world.


Jennifer Marshman is a PhD Candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. Her research project “Power, praxis, and inclusionary othering: an urban bee story” brings her truly interdisciplinary perspective to the exploration of the human-nature relationship in cities. Her work brings together methodologies from her nearly two decades of Nursing practice with her social science research experience.  Jennifer’s academic work has included research in Canada and in China and has explored urban agriculture, gleaning as a form of food recovery, and informal food economies such as street food vending. Jennifer is a board member on the Food System Roundtable of Waterloo Region which is helping to build a healthy regional food system through networking and policy. 






Collaborative Strategies for Food System Actors

From shared aspirations to a common agenda? A classification framework for place-based food systems from cases in Montreal



Nii Addy (author, presenter)

Assistant Professor (Research), McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, QC


Joëlle Rondeau (author)

Research Assistant, McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics, McGill University, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, QC


Beccah Frasier (author)

NDG Food Depot


Marie-Claude Morin Ouellet (author)

Carrefour alimentaire Centre-Sud


ABSTRACT. Food systems researchers and practitioners have noted the need for greater clarity in the specifications of concepts and indicators to improve communication among diverse stakeholders advocating for sustainable food systems (Knezevic, Landman, Blay-Palmer, & Nelson, 2013). Blay-Palmer et al. (2013) have specifically called for research that informs integration across "multiple jurisdictions, sectors, and disciplines that includes different models of food systems and community visions of an integrated food system." To facilitate such integration, and consistent with the conference themes, we ask: How can we increase the capacity of decision-makers in place-based food systems to classify and compare interventions, in their efforts to define a common agenda for collective impact? Adopting a place-based perspective, this paper develops a framework for classifying and comparing community food interventions, drawing on cases from the Montreal food system. We use documentary evidence from two food systems organizations in Montreal, as well as from interview and observation data collected in previous studies of the communities where the two organizations are embedded. We address the challenge of inconsistent reporting of interventions by various organizations in collective impact partnerships. We also contribute to decision-makers’ organization and synthesis of large amounts of complex information, for them to better specify individual and collective aspirations related to sustainable food systems, assess what synergies there may be in collaborating with potential partners, and define common agendas, for subsequently assessing the evolution of partnership activities and impacts of various interventions across city neighbourhoods. While there is a long tradition of using frameworks for the assessment of food security interventions and behaviour change in public health domains, the novelty of our proposition is to adapt this approach to communities of practice intervening in place-based food systems, with aspirations of making healthy, local, affordable and sustainable food available to inner-city neighbourhoods. We thereby speak to addressing issues of “measurement, quality assessment, and evaluation of place-based food systems actions, strategies, and outcomes.


Dr. Nii Addy is Assistant Professor (Research) in the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, where he conducts research at the McGill Center for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE). He is also an Affiliate Member of McGill’s Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID). Dr. Addy’s work focuses on effecting sustainable organizational and institutional change through multi-stakeholder partnerships spanning societal sectors (public, private and civil society) and industrial sectors (education, nutrition, health, agriculture, etc.). His areas of research expertise include strategy and policy formulation, as well as process evaluation in partnerships. Dr. Addy’s current projects include studying and designing management and learning processes in partnerships promoting business-oriented strategies for the supply and demand of healthy foods in Canada as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). 



Full Lives: Strengthening Grantee Capacity to Improve Local Community Food Systems



Alyssa Banks

Program Manager, Greater Twin Cities United Way, MN


Rebecca (Beki) Saito,

Associate Director, Senior Research Associate, Greater Twin Cities United Way, MN


ABSTRACT. Community foundation Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW), ranked as Minnesota’s largest non-governmental social services funder, connects people and resources within our community to challenge and change systems that limit our potential.  Addressing hunger and food insecurity requires holistic approaches across a continuum that not only address emergency needs but also address root causes while advancing long term solutions at individual, family, community and systems levels. To that end, GTCUW launched Full Lives an innovative new food security initiative that aims to support and strengthen a healthy, equitable community food system where all residents can thrive. The two year $1.5mil initiative takes a place-based approach in one of the Twin Cities low income, food dessert neighbourhoods, to address food insecurity through tackling issues of food access and affordability, food justice, and community and economic development.  Through significant targeted resources across a multi-faceted portfolio, GTCUW and its partners are working to help build the capacity and connect organizations. Projects in the portfolio are working at various stages of the food cycle to address local challenges that strengthen the local community food system. However a critical ingredient in supporting projects to achieve local food systems change goals is capacity building.  Through the Full Lives initiative GTCUW is partnering with a variety of local providers to design and implement effective, flexible and innovative capacity building strategies to strengthen cross agency collaboration, networking and organizational development. Drawing on year one quantitative and qualitative evaluation data, this presentation will feature successes, challenges and lessons learned when designing and implementing capacity building strategies. Furthermore the session will illuminate strategies and considerations for developing partnerships as well as incorporating grantee and community voice in the design and implementation of food system capacity building activities.


Alyssa Banks is a Program Manager within the Safety Net team where she manages the Full Lives grant program and a large and diverse grant portfolio focused on strengthening local Food Security across the twin cities metropolitan area. Ms. Banks holds a Master’s degree in Public and Non-Profit Administration from Metropolitan State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota.


Rebecca (Beki) Saito has more than 25 years of experience conducting evaluations of, for, and with non-profits.  She began her career at the Center for Youth Development and Research (CYDR) at the University of Minnesota and conducted her first multi-method, process and outcome evaluation for the National Youth Leadership Council in 1985.  She later worked at the Chapin Hall Center for Children while a graduate student at the University of Chicago, completing her Masters of Arts in Social Sciences. Beki was a senior scientist at Search Institute for nine years and the Howland Endowed Chair in Youth Leadership Development at the University of Minnesota. Beki has worked with countless non-profits, foundations, and all levels of government.  Beki provides senior leadership on numerous projects including Violence against Asian Women and Children for MN Department of Health--Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative, evaluation capacity-building for food sector grantees through Full Lives of Greater Twin Cities United Way, and evaluation capacity-building with tribal nations and reservations for Northwest Area Foundation.  Beki has facilitated several Youth Participatory Action Research projects including a violence prevention project with groups of youth and adults from ethnic heritage organizations. She conducted a national study on the prevalence of mentoring and recently completed a Youthprise study of participation rates of low-income youth in out-of-school time (OST) youth programs across Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Beki has published numerous journal articles and user-friendly products as well as facilitated small and large group learning collaboratives.



Out of Our Silos, Into the Movement: Community Food Systems and Cooperative Extension in Oregon



Lauren Gwin

Extension Community Food Systems Specialist, Associate Director, Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, Oregon State University, OR


ABSTRACT. Oregon has a vibrant community food systems (CFS) movement, which has grown from a few key actors and organizations two decades ago to an increasingly organized, statewide network of more than fifty organizations working on the full span of food system challenges. These diverse organizations have endorsed a common vision that, “All Oregonians thrive with healthy, affordable foods from an environmentally and economically resilient, regional food system.” The CFS movement aims to expand Oregon’s sustainable agriculture and local and regional food sectors in ways that address the state’s chronic challenges with food insecurity and inequitable access to healthy food.


Analysts have described Cooperative Extension’s potential and actual contributions to local, regional, and community food system development. Researchers have recently found that many Extension personnel feel limited in their ability to work towards transforming the food system.  These researchers suggest that Extension partner with external organizations who have a similar understanding of food system problems and possible solutions.  As those partners develop their own theories of food system change and strategic paths forward, Extension can use these to organize its own CFS goals and strategies. I propose and aim to demonstrate that this is well underway in Oregon.


In this presentation, participants will learn about Oregon’s CFS movement and the evolution and activities of the Oregon Community Food Systems Network and the Oregon State University Extension CFS Working Group. These increasingly connected statewide institutions bring together actors with a diverse set of expertise and experience relevant to food systems change. Participants will hear how information exchange, shared learning, and cross-cutting research and education projects have built relationships, trust, and shared purpose within but also between these institutions. As a result, the Extension CFS Working Group is adapting the Network’s transformational framework for food systems change as a framework for its own goals and work. While this does not automatically make Extension a transformative change agent, it is a critical step toward making us more effective partners in Oregon’s CFS movement. After sharing our progress to date and lessons learned, I will invite participants to share their own experiences with Cooperative Extension/universities and food systems transformation.


Dr. Lauren Gwin is Assistant Professor in the Crop & Soil Science Department, Extension Community Food Systems Specialist, and Associate Director of OSU’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, an Extension-based Center. She focuses on food systems policy; local and regional food value chains; small farm profitability; and community food systems.  Collaboration is fundamental to her work. She is a co-founder and Leadership Team member for the Oregon Community Food Systems Network, which has 53 organizational members statewide. Inside OSU, she leads an interdisciplinary working group of OSU Extension faculty with a broad range of community-based food systems experience and expertise. Dr. Gwin co-founded and directs the national Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, a national network of processors, producers, agencies, non-profit organizations, and others working to support the processing infrastructure essential to local and regional meat production.




Embedding Values in Food Systems

Connecting Land, People and Place through the Local Food System: Evidence from Western North Carolina


Leah Greden Mathews

Professor of Economics, University of North Carolina Asheville, NC


ABSTRACT. Land and people are inherently linked through food systems, yet the social and cultural mechanisms that enable place-based economic connections are not well documented. This research uses an economic lens to develop a conceptual model for how connections between land, people, and place are formed, nurtured, and expanded in food systems across space and time. Four case studies interrogating various elements of the Western North Carolina food system provide evidence of the mechanisms by which these connections are facilitated; the cases also serve as a means of “ground-truthing” the model by providing evidence of the role that farmers markets, local food marketing, and other engagements with food systems influence consumer and producer behaviors over time. Results demonstrate how social, cultural, economic, and natural forces connect in and to a specific place. The paper concludes with a framework for examining the economic-social-physical relationships of food systems which can be applied in other regions.


This work is a perfect fit for the “place-based food systems, economics, and sustainable human economies” conference stream as it provides both a conceptual model and case study evidence of how the economics of food systems function. Much of what we know about “place” is intangible, challenging to quantify, and thus typically not well-understood. This project helps bridge this gap by focusing on the role of social networks and other forms of social capital, cultural heritage, human interaction, and other less-tangible elements that influence consumer and producer behaviors in the economics of food systems. By making these elements more visible, we gain an improved understanding of how the economics of food systems function.


An applied, systems-thinking teacher-scholar, Dr. Leah Greden Mathews' work focuses on the value of those things that we can't buy on grocery stores shelves like water quality, scenic quality, cultural heritage, and social interactions. Her aim with this work is to develop awareness and understanding of how these "squishy" characteristics can help improve understanding of our economic system. A dedicated teacher, Leah is also a founding member of the Food for Thought cluster at UNC Asheville, a multidisciplinary faculty group providing a platform for discussion of what we eat, why we eat, where our food comes from and its journey from production to consumption, and how food affects our bodies and health.



Embedding values and place in food supply chains



Susan Machum

Canada Research Chair in Rural Social Justice, Department of Sociology, St. Thomas University, NB


ABSTRACT. This paper explores how ‘place’ and ‘value’ are conceptualized in food supply chains, now commonly referred to as food value chains. What emerges is an analysis of how much is obscured, as much as revealed through the linear thinking and language embedded in food supply chain research. The article reflects on how complex each node along the supply chain is. It also reflects on the disciplinary vantage points from which we study and evaluate values and their presence or absence in local food systems. The article argues the food we ingest carries with it not only a series of nutritional and economic values, but also an array of moral, social, ecological, cultural and political values.


Through case study data it illustrates how farmers engaged in organic production are often pulled between their commitment to ecological values and their commitment to local production systems. Those who prioritize local production over ecological values often claim third-party verification of their GMO and pesticide free growing strategies are not necessary; while those who prioritize ecological values over the local economy usually insist certification is essential for third-party verification of their commitment. The discussion will help readers visualize the different layers of values and connections to place embedded within the food system that are supported or thwarted by our food consumption practices. The ultimate aim is for all participants in the food value chain to be more aware of the impact their daily practices have on the creation and maintenance of particular food values.


Dr. Susan Machum is a Professor of Sociology at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Her research explores the relationship between rural and urban communities, food systems, women’s contributions to agriculture, sustainability and environmental issues. She uses a participatory action research model to engage communities and activists in theoretically informed social change agendas. Prior to beginning her academic career she worked for environmental non-profit organizations — first as a communications officer and later as the Executive Director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. As a child, she grew up on a small, subsistence farm in the lower Saint John River Valley of New Brunswick where her parents supported a 100-mile diet and practiced the 4-R’s long before they became de rigueur.



Clean Bay Beef; the SLO Farmers Solution



Valerie Dantoin

Faculty, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Green Bay, WI 


ABSTRACT. Every bio-region is unique.  Each has own ecosystem, agriculture, and food culture.  Often, agriculture creates environmental problems.  This presentation explores the idea that some problems may be mitigated by coupling local agricultural and environmental challenges to new local food system opportunities.


Join the presenter as she explains how the SLO Farmers Cooperative is connecting environmental consumers with the local food system and using consumer “pull” or buying power, to eventually restore the polluted waters of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The idea is to offer to consumers an easy-to-access monthly subscription box filled with meat from local, pasture-raised animals.  We already know that pastoral agriculture can fix environmental problems in the Bay.  Can consumer pull get strong enough and really make a difference for cleaner water?


Green Bay has developed a significant hypoxia zone that has turned the water a gross, unhealthy shade of green.  This dead zone is fuelled mainly by agricultural runoff from the intensification of dairy farming in the watershed in the last 30 years.  Farms have concentrated cows in confined animal feedlots and manure is a big problem.  Also, soil sediment runoff has greatly increased during the last 30 years, due to a 67 percent increase in annual crops like corn and soybeans, and an 8 percent decrease in pasture crops.  The result is more plowed land, and less soil-saving perennial, land cover.  Due to these changes in farming practices, the water quality of the Bay has deteriorated.  Could we get farmers to change practices if they had an economically sustainable alternative to large confinement dairy, like raising animals on pasture?


We have an opportunity to offer consumers an easy way to support clean water by changing their buying habits.  Will consumers “buy into a solution” that could help farmers convert enough cropland to pasture in order to have an impact on the Bay’s water quality?   Can we make it a community “norm” to buy Clean Bay beef in this bio-region and save the Bay?  We struggle to match a fair, sustainable price for farmers with a price the average customer is willing to pay.  The presentation shows how SLO Farmers set their prices and made sales projections in a market made up of mostly middle-class Midwestern paper-mill workers and Packer football fans.


The presenter will share how the Farmer’s Cooperative is trying to connect with consumers, not just about the health benefits of grass-fed meats, but also about the water quality benefits.  Marketing of the monthly meat subscription package is directed toward members of regional environmental groups that have a stake in a clean, clear, Green Bay.  What has worked, what hasn’t, and what can we do differently going forward?  Let’s debate whether or not the average person really can make a difference by voting with their food dollars. 


Valerie Dantoin farms using managed grazing and organic practices on her family’s 120 year old farmstead.  She teaches over 20 courses in the Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems Associate Degree Program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. She is a founding member of the SLO Farmers Cooperative.




Food Policy across Jurisdictions

Analysis of the Polycentric Governance of Local Food in Canada



Brent Swallow (presenter, author)

Professor, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta


Stephanie Budynski (author)

MSc. Student, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta, AB


Mary Beckie (author)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, AB


ABSTRACT. Food and agricultural policies in Canada have been understood to be the shared responsibility of the federal, provincial and territorial governments.  Globalization is the main backdrop for federal / provincial.  Canada is one of the world’s largest importers and exporters of agriculture and food products, and a large percentage of Canadians are directly or indirectly involved in the global agricultural system. The main objective of Canadian agricultural policy, including the new Canadian Agricultural Partnership, is to grow and increase the competitiveness of Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector (News Release Federal-Provincial-Territorial, July 21, 2017).  At the same time, some provinces and many municipalities across the country are implementing a range of policies designed to encourage increased production and consumption of local and place-based foods.  Localization is the main backdrop of municipal government policies.    

In this paper we describe a research approach designed to support analysis of the complex, multi-level governance of food systems that occurs in response to these contrasting trends.  We draw upon scholarship from legal pluralism, polycentric governance and public policy analysis to develop this approach.  A value chain that connects producers and consumers in a specific geographic situation becomes the starting point for analysis of any specific context.  Policies that shape that particular value chain are identified and assessed, starting with the most local level of government and extending outward to more aggregate levels.  An eight-point stepwise approach is described as a way of drawing lessons across case studies. 

In our cross-Canada review of the polycentric governance of local food, we identified and analyzed policies shaping local food in eight representative case studies from across Canada: (1) Vancouver, British Columbia; (2) Whitehorse, Yukon; (3) Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; (4) Winnipeg, Manitoba; (5) Waterloo, Ontario; (6) Thunder Bay, Ontario; (7) Gaspésie, Québec; and (8) Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia.  Those cases represent a wide range of policy attention from provincial and municipal governments, with much higher policy attention in Waterloo and Vancouver than the other cases.  We concluded that policies in four domains are most important:  (1) farmland conservation and urban agriculture, (2) food safety, (3) food processing, and (4) governance. 

We encourage other analysts and practitioners to apply this eight-point step wise approach as a simple way of relating the analysis of local food systems to the relevant academic literature.  We encourage deeper analysis of the 8 cases, with a particular focus on barriers and opportunities for consistency between national and local policy objectives and outcomes.  

Brent Swallow is Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta.  He is a trustee of Bioversity International in Rome and a Distinguished Fellow of the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi.  He grew up in on a Saskatchewan farm, then lived and worked in Africa for 21 years.  In Alberta, he conducts research on conversion of agricultural land, food deserts, and local food.  He was a founding member of the Edmonton Food Council and provides opportunities for 1st year students to connect to local not-profits concerned with food security.     


Planning for a Food Commons Transition for Northern Ireland: Policy and Regulatory Challenges and Opportunities



Mícheál Callaghan (author, presenter)

PHd Researcher, University College Dublin, Ireland


Peter Doran (author)

Lecturer, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland


Wayne Foord (author)

Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland


ABSTRACT. Northern Irish food policy is geared towards export of beef and dairy, while arable production is falling and food poverty has risen dramatically. This paper draws on the principles of the commons transition movement and the literature on the food commons to present an alternative vision for the future of the Northern Irish food system. It sets out the governance principles for a food commons transition which call for greater collaboration between the civic sphere and commons based food producers and the State. Key also is the need for organisations and enterprises aligned with the food commons principles to collaborate and break down organisational silos in order to ease administrative burdens, share resources and form a unified movement for a food commons. This paper builds on research conducted during the researcher’s masters which engaged in unstructured interviews with professionals in sustainability and food advocacy organisations as well as individuals actively working in community and small scale food production. The interviews highlighted the mis-match between current food policy and law with the aims and realities of small commons – based food enterprises. It also highlighted grant dependency amongst small enterprises, a tendency for competition between organisations, and feelings of being misunderstood by State decision makers. The State has a key role to act as a partner state in co – delivering and enabling the commons transition, through suitable policy, legislation and financial support. This paper assesses challenges and opportunities in two areas of the planning system, with a view to analysing their potential to foster greater collaboration between the State and the civic sphere to enable the food commons transition, namely the newly introduced Community Planning regime, and Community Asset Transfer. It compares the relatively new and underdeveloped legislative regimes in Northern Ireland with those in Great Britain.  The paper closes by making recommendations for policy and legislative changes for the food commons transition. This is a particularly timely paper given the ongoing Brexit negotiations and the need to ensure support for farmers and food producers beyond the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy.


Mícheál is a PhD researcher in the Effective Nature Laws team at University College Dublin. His PhD research examines community and local stakeholder involvement in biodiversity protection and governance on the island of Ireland, through the lens of commons theory. His 'Place Based Food Systems' presentation builds on research conducted during his masters, which examined policy and regulatory challenges for a collaborative food economy in Northern Ireland. He is a member of Young Friends of the Earth Ireland who have recently launched a food sovereignty campaign. He is also active in the Transition Town network in Ireland, having co –founded a Transition Town group in his home town, Monaghan, in 2013. He believes that local food production is the gateway to a low carbon transition which places community resilience at its core.



The Power of Place and Places of Power: Integrating the Public Interest to Protect Farmland across Jurisdictions



David J. Connell

Associate Professor, Ecosystem Science and Management, University of Northern British Columbia, BC


ABSTRACT. Place-based food systems are predicated on the power of local people, interests, and initiatives.  Local governments can play a critical role in the planning and development of place-based food systems.  However, when it comes to protecting farmland, historically, it has been a shortcoming of local governments to recognise farmland as an important part of their desirable future.  Consequently, residential, commercial, and recreational (e.g., golf courses) uses were given priority over agricultural uses.  To redress this failure, starting in the 1970s, provincial governments in Canada took back some of its authority for land use planning in order to better protect farmland in the name of provincial interests.  In this paper, we explore the current state of farmland protection in Canada by analysing municipal, regional, provincial, and federal legislative frameworks for protecting farmland.  In particular, we focus on legislative mechanisms used to integrate the public interest in protecting farmland across jurisdictions.  We find that provinces use a combination of mechanisms for approval authority over bylaws and requirements for bylaws to be consistent with provincial interests.  The outcome is mixed:  some municipalities have little choice but to protect farmland; other municipalities have more legislative power, but this power of place often works to the detriment of farmland.  Thus, when it comes to protecting farmland, the power of place can be the weakest element of a place-based food system.  Through this paper, we will contribute to the conference theme about policy and governance structures that are critical to the advancement of place-based food systems.  For practitioners, the educational value of the paper includes an improved understanding of relations between provincial and local legislation to protect farmland; and an improved knowledge to support stronger land use planning.  For researchers, the paper is based on new insights about plan evaluation and a new method for evaluating plan quality.


Dr. David Connell is leading a national research program to assess the state of agricultural land use planning for farmland protection in Canada.  Past research includes provincial (BC) and national studies of the social and economic benefits of farmers markets, as well as strategic business planning for farmers markets.  He also studies the social and economic benefits of non-timber uses of the inland rainforest of the upper Fraser River watershed.  David is an Associate Professor in Ecosystem Science and Management at the University of Northern British Columbia.


Sustainable Livelihoods and Food Security: Barriers & Strategies

From “Informal” to “Local”: the role of data in legitimizing and supporting the local food economy in Malawi



Stephanie White (author, presenter)

Assistant Professor, Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University, MI


Jessica Kampanje-Phiri (author, presenter)

Lecturer of Social Work/Deputy Head, Department of Human Ecology, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Milawi


ABSTRACT. Local and regional food economies throughout Africa are critical to rural and urban food security and are common sources of income for men and women. Despite their importance, local agrifood systems are commonly described as ‘informal,’ a framing that obscures their value and implies chaos, inefficiency, and backwardness. Consequently, the importance of local food economies in relation to food security and livelihood is largely unexplored. As critical nodes in regional food networks that link rural producers to city residents, urban retail markets offer important opportunities for legitimizing and strengthening regional food systems. Better understanding these markets through research is key to developing policies and interventions that address the specifically urban factors of food insecurity, such as condition of infrastructure, municipal policies that govern the use of space, and consumer proximity to markets. This type of research can also inform how local and regional agrifood networks, institutions, and practices can be strengthened in the service of local agrifood economies in both rural and urban contexts.


Our presentation and paper will highlight significant findings from a collaborative research project conducted by Michigan State University and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the goal of which is to better describe and understand urban food exchange in Lilongwe, particularly in relation to sustainable livelihoods and food security. Findings from this work should inform municipal planning processes and other efforts to address urban food insecurity in Lilongwe. Our findings have broader application, as well, because most Africans living in cities are dependent on the small-scale retail food sector, which is commonly influenced by similar factors regardless of geography. Our presentation will also highlight the participatory and collaborative nature of our engagement, including how university students have played a critical role in the research process and enabling an environment in which it is possible to discuss politically sensitive issues. In addition, we will share some of the techniques we have used to promote reciprocity and trust-building, which has helped to avoid ‘extractive’ research practices. Finally, of interest to conference participants will be how our approach has influenced policy and practice at the municipal level.



Stephanie White (PhD) is an assistant professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University and a food systems researcher with the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation. She is systems thinker and political ecologist working at the intersection of urbanization, climate change, cities, and small-scale food based livelihoods. Her background in agroecology, spatial analysis, and qualitative research enable her to engage deeply with local socioecological systems, and to do so with an awareness of how ‘the global’ articulates locally. She embraces the title of scholar-practitioner, and enacts praxis that has as its primary goal social, environmental, and economic justice and the design of sustainable and regenerative societies.


Jessica Kampanje-Phiri (PhD) is a social anthropologist specialized in understanding the cultural dimension of food systems in Malawi and beyond. Her specific areas of academic and research expertise include: food and nutrition policy analysis, the natural, social, political, institutional, economic, cultural, and technological aspects of food, poverty and livelihood security, power and gender relations, social-cultural inequalities, humanitarian interventions and development assistance. Jessica Kampanje-Phiri is currently a Lecturer of Social Work and a Deputy Head for the department of Human Ecology at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).



A polycentric approach to enhancing smallholder resilience in the Philippines:  The MASIPAG Food Sovereignty Model



Amber A. Heckelman (author & presenter)

PhD Candidate, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC


Hannah Wittman (author)

Academic Director, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC


ABSTRACT. Adverse social conditions, environmental degradation, and maladaptive institutions remain key challenges to agricultural transition and resilience building capacity for smallholders. And rising global inequities have raised concern over the equity, efficacy, transparency, and accountability of top-down approaches to agricultural intervention and innovation; and interest in grassroots and polycentric efforts to enhance smallholder resilience. To investigate the potential of the latter approach, we examine the MASIPAG food sovereignty model for agricultural development. Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Agricultural Development (MASIPAG) is a grassroots farmer-led network working towards the sustainable use and management of biodiversity through farmers’ control of genetic and biological resources, agricultural production and associated knowledge. Since its articulation by La Via Campesina in 1996 as the right of local people to control their own regional and national food systems, food sovereignty has emerged as a significant topic in the discourse on climate change. Advocates suggest that food sovereignty initiatives have the potential to create alternative agricultural development models that are better equipped to address food security in the face of climate change, largely due to employing agroecological practices that simultaneously preserve diversity, enhance ecosystem service functions, reduce reliance on costly energy intensive inputs, and link farmer knowledge with political mobilization. Drawing from these works and fieldwork conducted from August to December 2016, this paper explores the link between the MASIPAG food sovereignty development model and smallholder resilience in the Philippines. To examine this link, we comparatively evaluate and draw synergies between: a) the 7 themes and 6 principles of Food Sovereignty established at the 2007 Nyeleni Forum for Food Sovereignty, and b) the 13 farming system indicators for climate resilience identified by Cabell and Oelofse (2012). Next, to add meaning and context to our analysis, we account for the impact of MASIPAG food sovereignty initiatives on smallholder farming systems, as well as key socioecological conditions identified by Philippine smallholders. Ultimately, this presentation provides a case study of a grassroots polycentric approach to resilience building capacity in the Philippines, and suggests that the MASIPAG food sovereignty model provides smallholders the means for addressing adverse socioecological conditions and institutional barriers to resilience building.


Amber A. Heckelman is a Bullitt Environmental Fellow, Liu Scholar, Public Scholar, and Ph.D. Candidate with the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at The University of British Columbia. Amber is committed to creating sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems through knowledge translation and mobilization. Her research covers a range of topics including resilience, food sovereignty, agroecology, and food assistance. For her dissertation, Amber has carried out a collaborative research project with Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development), a grassroots farmer-led network in the Philippines working towards the sustainable use and management of biodiversity through farmers’ control of genetic and biological resources, agricultural production and associated knowledge. Using participatory methods Amber comparatively measured the resilience of organic and conventional smallholder rice systems in the Negros Occidental province, and identified multi-scalar inventions for enhancing resilience given existing socioecological conditions and the lived experience of farmers. 



Walking Towards Food Sovereignty: Politics of Food in Santhal Life-world



Sanjeev Kumar

M.Phil, Center for Development Practice, Ambedkar University Delhi, India


ABSTRACT. The paper is based on more than eight month stay and interventions in a village and around, demographically dominated by Santhal tribe in eastern India. Till the end of colonial rule in India jackfruit has been documented as one of the most important fruit associate with Santhal life-world in the region. They continue to have large number of jackfruit trees around their settlement but consumption of jackfruit as part of local food system has been stigmatized socially delegitimized in the recent past. Some jackfruit varieties have also been lost from the region. This is a loss of sovereignty of the local inhabitant over their food system. The paper tries to documents the attempts of re-imagining jackfruit in the local food system of the region during the course of more than one year long action research. The paper also tries to differentiate the process of re-imagination from revivalist as well as reformist model of intervention or change. Paper claims how both revivalist and reformist approach promote dependency model of transformation. The paper tries to claim how movements in the name of both food security and food sovereignty lie more or less within this reformist and revivalist approach of change. Movements in the name of food sovereignty throughout the world deviates from calories centric approach of food security, but still food sovereignty largely concentrate around the question of health and environmental aspects of food.


The paper is part of an ongoing action research being done by an M.Phil student in association with an NGO (PRADAN) which primarily works on the question of livelihood in tribal concentrated zones of northern and eastern India. Participatory method of action research was followed not just in actioning upon the issue of research but also during the process of establishing relationship with the village community and arriving at the issue of research which is local food system. I picked up jackfruit as reference point because jackfruit is consumed as both as fruit as well as vegetable apart from fodder for herds. Though focuses of the research was primarily local consumption but the entire process of actioning can be divided into three parts: Consumption, Production and Distribution. While ‘Inside-Out—Outside-In’ and ‘Politics of Space’ emerged as the two important method of action research, women theatre emerged as both method as well as action in itself.


Sanjeev Kumar is an M.Phil final semester student at Center for Development Practice in Ambedkar University Delhi. He have been doing his village immersion for more than a year now in a tribal village at the boarder of Jharkhand and Bihar in Chakai block of Jamui district in Bihar. He has been a student of History and done his bachelor and master in History with specialization on Modern Indian History. As part of his research he is working on food system of the region while concentrating on Jackfruit to reveal a story worth listening as well as actioning. He has presented four seminar papers on issues related to food and tribal culture. He also has several short publications in different daily and weekly. You may get in touch with him at or 91-9523366403.



Scaling Up from Local to Regional: Assessment and Lessons Learned 

Local motivations, regional implications: scaling from local to regional food systems in northeastern North Carolina


Gabriel Cumming

PhD, Associate Director, Working Landscapes, NC


Local food initiatives typically emerge in response to the place-based needs and goals of a specific community or county, e.g. boosting the local economy, repurposing vacant infrastructure, increasing healthy food access, or creating opportunities for nearby farmers.  When these local food initiatives lead to the development of aggregation, distribution, and processing infrastructure (e.g. food hubs), however, these new facilities may find that they have to operate across broader geographies in order to achieve financial viability.  This expansion from local to regional can lead to unanticipated interaction, and potentially competition, among local food entities within a region.  Regional coordination and planning are thus needed to promote complementary, rather than duplicative, food system infrastructure development, but this requires stakeholders to look past their original local motivations and join a regional conversation.  Drawing upon our firsthand experience of launching a place-based food initiative in northeastern North Carolina that has led to development of a regional food hub, as well as data from interviews with food system stakeholders across our region, we examine the tension between local motivations and regional implications in current food systems discourse.  We assess how stakeholders’ motivations for creating place-based food systems both impose constraints upon and create opportunities for the development of resilient regional food economies.  Finally, we offer recommendations for how regions can pursue approaches to decentralized food system infrastructure development and investment that transcend, but still remain attentive to, the localized, place-based concerns of diverse stakeholder groups.



Gabriel Cumming, PhD is Associate Director and co-founder of Working Landscapes, a non-profit rural development organization based in Warren County, North Carolina.  Gabe led development of the Working Landscapes Food Hub, which prepares fresh-cut produce for institutions’ cafeterias, and he collaborates with partners to build regional food value chains.  He also leads Community Voice Consulting, a firm that designs inclusive stakeholder engagement processes to guide natural resource management decision making.  Gabe previously served as Warren County’s Economic Development Director and as a researcher at Duke University. He holds a BA from Swarthmore College and a doctorate from UNC Chapel Hill.




Food System Solutions to Address Food Security and Local Economic Development: the Case of Food Hubs in Northeastern US



Cesare Cascella

PhD Candidate, Heritage, Architecture and Urban Planning Department, University Mediterranea, Italy & Department of Economics, Northeastern University, MA


ABSTRACT. Socio-economic inequalities and natural resource exploitation reflect the limitations of how the current food system functions. Global and local conceptual categories are used to describe the two alternatives, which are shaping the way food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed. In the United States, Food Hubs (FHs) are seen as an emerging model which is able to scale-up local and regional food systems in the face of the negative consequences generated by the dominant global-oriented system. Although food security and sustainable economic development are the main desirable outcomes for any food system, little research exists about how FHs contribute to these two interrelated key issues.

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the contribution to food security and sustainable economic development of FH initiatives, shedding light on the recent evolution of this phenomenon in Northeastern US. Accordingly, the research questions have been narrowed down by taking into account the four dimensions (availability, access, utilization, stability) through which food security is commonly framed and the seven drivers (ownership, place, multipliers, collaboration, inclusion, workforce, system) of the Common Wealth Building (CWB) approach to economic development proposed by the Democracy Collaborative research institute. Seven FH case studies operating in Northeastern U.S. have been surveyed in order to gather qualitative information about their roles and activities in accordance with the dimensions and drivers included in the conceptual framework adopted by this inquiry. The results of the study confirmed that FHs are financially viable businesses which have the potential of bringing positive socio-economic outcomes in the community where they operate. In terms of food security, FHs cannot be considered a stand-alone policy to increase food access for underserved social groups. Nonetheless, by helping farmers and small processors with their services, FHs are undoubtedly contributing to increase the quantity and the quality of the food produced in their region. Regarding the economic development aspect, FHs showed to build upon one or more of the seven drivers of the CWB framework. Particularly, the FHs operating business incubator and food processing facilities demonstrated to be valid examples on how place-based food initiatives can foster sustainable human economies.


Cesare Cascella is the co founder of, a multi-disciplinary design office based in Naples (Italy). Recently, he has been awarded a PhD in Urban Regeneration and Economic Development at University “Mediterranea” with a thesis entitled “Food system solutions to address food security and local economic development: the case of food hubs in Northeastern US”. He started being interested in alternative food system initiatives by providing web consulting services to a few of them in Southern Italy. Later on, after having experienced the negative consequences of a highly globalized food system which characterizes the United States, Cesare questioned the Food Hubs’ promise to scale-up local and regional food systems in that region. Passionate about food and its role in both shaping and reflecting the society in which it is produced and consumed, Cesare advocates for community-based initiatives which are able to reduce socio-economic inequalities and improve the environment.



The Basic Food Systems Report Toolkit



Laura Valentine

Food Systems Consultant, Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT


ABSTRACT. As we seek to understand local and regional food systems, reliable data about those food systems becomes more important to decision-making and planning for the future. Many community groups and food policy councils would like to collect data and create baseline food system reports, but are under-resourced; according to Sussman and Bassarab ("Food Policy Council Report 2016", Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future), approximately 2/3 of food policy councils in North America have an operating budget of less than $10,000 local currency and commonly have only a single, part-time staffer. Although open data projects have, in many cases, made data more available, locating and sorting through that data takes time and money that groups and food policy councils may not have. In addition, food policy councils struggle with how and what to measure. Relying on extant reports for guidance is complicated, because there are widely varying ways of creating these reports, and widely varying sets of collected data. The Basic Food Systems Report Toolkit is a set of free tools, including proposed measures, identified data sources, and resources for food policy councils, community groups, and individual practitioners to create fast, accurate food systems reports with minimal resource outlay. The toolkit comes out of work done in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, and is based on research across a cohort of food system baseline reports from cities in the United States. Attendees will learn about the background of the tools and the research informing their creation, their use and limitations, and discuss some of the ways to use the generated basic information to move place-based food policy and planning forward.


Laura Valentine is a freelance food systems consultant based in Pittsburgh, PA. She holds an MS in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College and an MA in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. Her MS capstone project on food data collection and visualization led her to develop a food systems baseline report toolkit suitable for food policy councils and individuals wishing to examine their local food systems. She has worked with the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, is a Penn State Master Gardener, and has co-chaired the Edible Teaching Garden in Pittsburgh since 2016.


Strategies for Better Food Planning

A Difference-Centered Approach to Municipal Food Policy Planning in Metro Vancouver



Colin Dring 

PhD candidate, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, BC


Victoria Ostenso

MSc Student, Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, BC


ABSTRACT. Food policy councils (FPCs) strive to incorporate citizen voices in efforts to address food system problems arising from the corporate food regime. FPCs purport to build coalitions between food system stakeholders, including farmers, distributors, business owners, non-profit organizations and municipal staff, seeking to broaden participation in the decisions shaping local food systems. However, much like other alternative food initiatives, FPCs have been criticized for being dominated by white, upper-middle class actors and the reproduction of social inequities. Because the composition and decision-making structure of FPCs does not facilitate the participation of diverse peoples (e.g. different races, indigenous peoples, socioeconomics, genders, ages, ability-levels), the decisions that they make can perpetuate the corporate food regime. We add to critical analyses of food system governance in the politics of difference through a qualitative case study of the cultural inclusion efforts by FPCs in four municipalities in the Metro Vancouver Region. Through this presentation, practitioners will learn from the experiences of FPC leaders in the Region about the importance of a racial justice approach to cultural inclusion in food systems planning and programming. In addition, we will describe principles for cultural engagement that can be employed by practitioners and researchers to influence the design, implementation and evaluation of food system planning processes thereby enhancing food systems equity. Further research needs will be discussed, such as the need to examine how FPCs shift from a colour-blind to a racial-justice approach and how the principles we propose can contribute to these shifts. In addition, deeper understanding is needed of food system practitioners and governance spaces (formal and informal) that circumvent FPC spaces to advance racial equity in food systems.


Colin Dring is an advocate for ecological sustainability built through a collaborative network of intercultural change agents. He is a community developer, a change facilitator, a researcher, a connector, and a lover of the outdoors. He has over ten years of experience in the field of community food security, agricultural planning, community development, and agri-food policy.

Before pursuing his doctoral studies, Colin completed an undergraduate degree in Soil Science (University of British Columbia, 2009) and a Master’s of Science in Rural Planning (University of Guelph, 2012). Colin has worked with multiple levels of federal government including Environment Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as part of the Research Affiliate Program. He currently serves as Chair of the BC Food Systems Network, Secretary of the Sustainable Agricultural Education Association, and on the Working Group for Food Justice with the Vancouver Food Policy Council. Colin Dring is now pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. His research project is titled: “(In)Visible Minority Farmers & Canadian Food Systems in Transition: Governance & Representation.” This work inspires Colin’s studies in the advancement of equitable food systems and greater civic engagement through food and agricultural planning. In his spare time, he climbs rocks, hikes BC’s rugged landscapes, and samples Vancouver’s cuisine and microbreweries.


Victoria Ostenso is a second year MSc Student in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems at UBC. She holds a Bachelor's degree in American Studies from Carleton College, USA. Her research looks at the intersections of food culture, sustainable food systems, cross-cultural community engagement, and participatory democracy. Her current research projects include a qualitative study of cultural inclusion efforts in food policy councils in Metro Vancouver (presented here) and a case study of the community garden program in Richmond, B.C. which highlights the benefits of public commons spaces that support cross-cultural interactions. Outside of her research, Ostenso is also involved in the greater academic community at UBC as a member of the Food Sovereignty Research group and a co-coordinator of the Food Systems Research Network at the Liu Institute. She also teaches cooking classes to children in the Intergenerational Landed Learning Program at the UBC Farm.



Design Thinking and Community Engagement for Adaptive Food System Frameworks: Opportunities and limitations



Erin White (presenter, author)

Principal and Founder, Community Food Lab, NC


Janie Hynson (author)

Project Manager, Community Food Lab, NC


John Lewis (author)

President and Founder, Intelligent Futures, NC


Cassandra Caiger (author)

Engagement and Sustainability Coordinator, Intelligent Futures, NC


ABSTRACT. What are the limitations and opportunities in developing community-led food system plans and policies, and what governance strategies are needed to support them? How can design thinking and community engagement open new territory for smart, adaptive planning?


Through the lens of Community Food Lab's collaborative approaches to food system planning, this presentation will explore community engagement methods, systems-based strategic planning, and diverse governance solutions to drive short- and long-term systems change in place-based food systems.


Two of Community Food Lab's North American food planning projects are presented as case studies to ground the presentation in recent work: the Strathcona County, Alberta's 2016 "Urban Agriculture Strategy" in partnership with Calgary's Intelligent Futures; and the 2017 "Moving Beyond Hunger", a comprehensive food security plan for Wake County, NC developed in collaboration with the Capital Area Food Network, a local food council. While at opposite ends of the continent, both projects resulted in novel systems-based food policy that explored distinct and multi-layered governance strategies in response to extensive community engagement.


In particular, the presentation will provide a critical analysis of a range of local food system governance, development, and planning strategies that include food councils as planning partners, local government leadership, multi-sector action plans, and open-ended adaptive models. Through the two case studies, and supplemented by discussion of additional projects and recent trends and research, the presentation will examine both strengths and weaknesses of current community-based food planning, design thinking approaches for food systems, and place-based food policy and governance.


Erin White, founder and principal of Community Food Lab, is a designer, planner, and entrepreneur working for healthy food systems. In 2013 he founded this award-winning international firm to combine the power of design thinking with the urgent need to develop healthy, sustainable food systems. With experience in architecture, urban design, construction, restaurant cooking, public health statistics, and agriculture, White helps organizations and communities develop innovative food systems projects that solve complex food system challenges. He is co-founder of the Capital Area Food Network, a county-based food council, a partner in launching a local food business accelerator program, and is the proud dad of two pre-school kids who always eat their veggies.



“Investigating the opportunities for creative cooperation” around place-based food systems: Reflections over the past decade





June Komisar (presenter, author)

Associate Professor, Ryerson University Department of Architectural Science, ON


Joe Nasr (presenter, author)

Independent Scholar


ABSTRACT. This paper re-examines issues discussed a decade ago at an international symposium held in Toronto called “The Role of Food and Agriculture in the Design and Planning of Buildings and Cities” which showcased a variety of design and planning initiatives and research projects that involved food systems.  This symposium is likely to have been the first to bring together “individuals from the full range of professions of the built environment who have been recently tackling challenges of the urban food system. The interface between the physical aspects of urban food provision and distribution, urban design and architecture” was explored.[1]  At that time, various professions that deal with the urban built environment were starting to appreciate food systems as an important aspect of what makes a good city, town or region.  This was occurring not coincidentally with the increasing recognition of the importance of local food, urban agriculture, community-based enterprises, and other facets of place-based food systems.


This paper seeks to revisit the “opportunities for creative cooperation between shapers of the built environment and actors in urban food and agriculture systems” explored in the original symposium.  It will analyze some cases where such cooperation has occurred, looking at resulting benefits and tensions.  It also discusses the role of particular built-environment professionals who have developed a professional specialization in food-system focused design or planning.


Presented in this paper is a survey of speakers who participated in the original symposium. By assessing how things have changed in the past decade and what challenges continue to exist, we hope to provide an understanding of the current situation, identifying opportunities for both practitioners and researchers. The paper will draw on the experience of the authors in research, outreach and policy development in this area, based both on their involvement as co-leads of that 2008 symposium and the ongoing Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture initiative that emerged from this symposium,[2] as well as their direct work in Toronto’s local food movement.


[1] Quotation is from the original poster advertising the symposium.



June Komisar is an Associate Professor in the Architecture Department at Ryerson University in Toronto where she teaches architectural design, theory, and history.  Her areas of research include architectural history and theory and designing for urban agriculture. Recent publications include sections of the Handbook of Rooftop Farming, and a chapter of the book Second Nature Urban Agriculture, both with Joe Nasr. She is a co-organizer of the Carrot City research group, which looks at the intersection of design and urban agriculture. This group has produced a touring exhibit and a book, also called Carrot City. At Ryerson she is an associate of the Centre for Studies in Food Security. She is on the board of Green Thumbs Growing Kids and a past member of the Toronto Food Policy Council.


Joe Nasr is an independent scholar, lecturer and consultant based in Toronto who has been exploring urban agriculture and food security issues for a quarter century.  He holds a 1997 doctorate in urban and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania and has received several fellowships over the years.  He is an associate of Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security, and co-curator of the travelling exhibit, book and website Carrot City: Designing for Urban Agriculture.  Joe is co-founder of Toronto Urban Growers and member of the Toronto Food Policy Council.  He is co-author or co-editor of four books and dozens of articles, including the seminal book Urban Agriculture; he is also co-editor of the Springer Urban Agriculture Book Series.  Joe teaches regularly at Ryerson courses on urban agriculture and food security and has taught at a number of universities in several countries.



Rural Food Access, Food Security and Measurement

Changing the Food Environment – What is Feasible in Small Food Stores?



Liana Schreiber (author, presenter)

Research Scientist, Minnesota Department of Health, MN


Teresa Ambroz (author)

State Nutrition Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Health. MN


Nora Shields-Cutler (author)

Food Systems Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Health, MN


Jennifer Pelletier (author)

Research Scientist, Minnesota Department of Health, MN


Ann Zukoski (author)

Evaluation Supervisor, Minnesota Department of Health, MN


Susan Bishop (author)

Healthy Community Unit Supervisor, Minnesota Department of Health, MN


ABSTRACT. Grocery stores have been closing in rural communities, which can be economically and socially, detrimental to communities. Thus, small food stores, such as convenience and corner stores, are becoming an increasingly important place to stock healthy food, and an important partner with local distributors. This is especially important for under-resourced communities, as increasing stock of healthy, appealing, and affordable foods, especially fruits and vegetables, could make these stores more of a one stop shop and decrease travelling time to other food stores. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is responding to the need in rural Minnesota to develop flexible guidelines that advance place based food systems.  MDH collaborated with 10 statewide, local public health (LPH) agencies and partnered with small food stores to modify the availability, placement, and promotion of healthy products. MDH and LPH agencies co-developed the intervention and evaluation, and gathered input from storeowners to create innovative intervention strategies. Strategies were rooted in policies, systems, and environmental (PSE) change approaches and focused on stocking and selling healthy products. The approaches for sourcing healthy products varied, but some strategies included working with local food distributors to stock healthy products, which can not only increase healthy food availability, but also can help to stimulate the local economy.  In this presentation, participants will learn about how we collaborated with partners to develop an innovative intervention, strategies, and materials. Lessons will also be learned from the discussion of challenges and opportunities in evaluating an evolving, community-based intervention where implementation strategies are tailored to unique store needs. Last but not least, we will discuss the feasibility of and the lessons learned about what it takes to make PSE change happen in stores across Minnesota to create a more robust place-based food system. 


Liana RN Schreiber, MPH, RDN, is a Research Scientist  at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), focusing on food access. She is passionate about using evaluation as a change agent and engaging stakeholders to develop evaluation plan with action-oriented results.  At MDH, Liana has collaboratively develops evaluation materials and a database to capture statewide changes in policy, systems, and environmental related to improving food access and active living, and decreasing tobacco use. Liana also co-leads a cross-sector team to develop indicators to monitor changes in the Minnesota food system. Before her public health career, Liana conducted clinical research trials with individuals living with impulse control disorders and published over 40 articles or book chapters in this area.  In her free time, she enjoys staying active with biking and dancing, as well as volunteering at a non-profit grocery store. 



Addressing Rural Food Insecurity on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington




Clea Rome (author, presenter)

Assistant Professor, Director, WSU Clallam and Jefferson County Extension Offices, Washington State University, WA


Karlena Brailey (author)

Coordinator, Nutrition and Food Access, WSU Extension, Clallam County, Washington State University (WA)


ABSTRACT. The presentation will highlight a case study of place-based solutions for fostering community food security in Clallam County, an isolated rural area on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, where over 14% of the population lives below the federal poverty level, 1 in 2 students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and 1 in 6 pre-schoolers are obese. Many areas of the county are classified as low access in the USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas, with a significant number of residents more than 20 miles from the nearest supermarket. Clallam is home to five tribes including the Hoh, Quileute, Makah, and Lower Elwha-Klallam. The USDA has designated these tribal areas as food deserts, with limited access to healthy foods. The geographic nature of the county makes distribution of goods especially challenging. The Olympic Peninsula is connected to the mainland of Washington via ferries, a floating bridge, and two small highways, all of which are susceptible to interruption due to frequent extreme marine weather. In a region where disruptive weather is a common occurrence and where over 50% of children are eating one to two meals a day at school, food security and local food production are interconnected. Building place-based community food security in this isolated and rural area requires interdisciplinary solutions that engage partners across all sectors of the food system. Through partnerships forged between the local Extension office, emergency food distribution programs, Tribes, and the agricultural community on the Olympic Peninsula, our innovative work provides economic incubation for regional micro-farms as well as equitable food access to healthy, nutritious, locally grown food for those who can least afford it. By leveraging Farm-to-Food Bank funding and various federal programs such as the Farmers Market Nutrition Program to provide low-risk wholesale contracts for beginning farmers, as well as establishment of a gleaning program that was the foundation for creation a new agriculture business in a remote Tribal community we are connecting the dots between local small-scale food production and those in need in our communities.


Clea Rome is an Assistant Professor and Director of Washington State University Extension in Clallam and Jefferson Counties, on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Her work focuses on food systems in rural communities, including technical assistance to small-scale farmers on economic development opportunities and overseeing food access programming. Her program areas include: Enhancing farm production and improving market access for small farms in Clallam County, increasing programming for Tribal communities, and assisting communities in developing local economies.


Karlena Brailey is the Coordinator for Nutrition & Food Access Programs at WSU Clallam County Cooperative Extension.  Since she began in 2016, Karlena has significantly increased the capacity and impact of SNAP-Ed programming to focus on building rural food systems and increasing food access for low-income community members.  She is also the current chair of the Peninsula Food Coalition, a local network of emergency food providers.  Her accomplishments include leveraging creativity and strong community partnerships to break through a 25 year history of inaccessibility in the local food system.  Karlena continues her work on the Olympic Peninsula to lead the effort to establish new SNAP and FMNP redemption sites in unreached corners of the state, support new growers in rural food deserts, and piloting innovative value-added processing initiatives as the building blocks of a food secure community.



Development of Food Security Indicator Framework in British Columbia for Provincial Health Services Authority



Barbara Seed (author, presenter)
B. Seed Consulting, BC

Melanie Kurrein

Provincial Manager Food Security, Population & Public Health, Provincial Health Services Authority, BC


ABSTRACT. Food security is complex in both content and governance, making it difficult to measure and monitor. In 2016, the Population and Public Health Program of the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), sought to identify and/ or construct an evidence-based conceptual framework to guide the systematic selection of food security indicators for British Columbia (BC).

A literature search found no existing conceptual frameworks specific to food security indicators. The most relevant and frequently used frameworks for indicator reporting identified were environmental health indicator frameworks. These frameworks consist of a matrix with the subject/ issue (in this case, food security) combined with the environmental health causal network (e.g. determinants – current state – impact - response).


The environmental health indicator framework formed the foundation of a conceptual framework for food security indicators. The matrix combines an adaptation of the environmental health casual network with food security elements, including: i) Individual and household food insecurity; ii) food systems (resilient; health promoting; environmentally sustainable; safe) and iii) capacity: (participation; skills, knowledge, learning; resource mobilization; and social cohesion).

In addition to laying the foundation for the revision and development of a common set of indicators, the food security indicator framework also illustrates causal relationships and interconnectedness between indicators. Further, use of this conceptual framework can enable program planners and policy makers to be clear about where and how they are attempting to assess, influence and monitor food security.

While the framework was developed for use by Public Health, it has a wide scope of content. Therefore, the potential exists for various sectors to contribute to populating the framework with indicators and thus creating a comprehensive assessment of food security in BC.

This presentation will provide an in-depth look into the BC Food Security Indicator Framework, including the rationale and process for its development. Participants will be able to more fully discern where and how their work in food security can be influenced and assessed, and see how their work could contribute to province-wide surveillance.


Barbara Seed is a Registered Dietitian with over 30 years of experience working in public health. Barbara has been involved in food security since the 1990s. In her work and volunteer capacities, she has straddled many sectors: government (national, provincial and municipal levels); civil society (anti-hunger and food system organizations) and academia (teaching, research, supervision and publishing). Most recently, she led the development of the first dietary guidelines in Qatar – one of the first in the world to include sustainability principles; she continues to publish and lecture in the area of sustainable diets.

Barbara worked on the food security indicator framework with PHSA in her current capacity as a consultant in food and nutrition policy (where her focus is on integrating nutrition, food systems and the environment). She recently moved to the Sunshine Coast with her family and is enjoying paddling and gardening in their new digs.


Melanie Kurrein is the Provincial Manager of Food Security with the Population and Public Health Team with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). She is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in socio-cultural studies of food and has worked in food security for over 17 years at both local (health authority) and provincial levels. In her current position as the Provincial Manager of Food Security, Melanie works closely with the regional health authorities, the First Nations Health Authority and the Ministry of Health to facilitate provincial collaboration and coordination of activities to inform food security policy and initiatives across the province. In her spare time Melanie loves to be outdoors, to spend time with her family and she loves most things to do with food including cooking, gardening and eating!



Polycentric and Cooperative Food System Governance

Enabling local food system innovation through cooperative governance: The case of YYC Growers and Distributors in Calgary, Alberta




Mary Beckie (author, presenter)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, AB


Elizabeth Bacon (author, presenter)

UN Secretariat for the Convention on Biodiversity


Kye Kocher (author, presenter)

President YYC Growers


ABSTRACT. The social economy (e.g., non-profit, cooperatives and community organizations) is playing a prevalent role in Canada’s alternative and local food movement. These organizations are being formed by citizens working together and taking action to achieve a range of social values and needs not being met by the conventional food system. Farmer cooperatives that direct market locally produced food are one such example, where collaboration and reciprocity among producers and consumers can achieve mutual goals and benefits that can also extend to the broader community. YYC Growers and Distributors is a new producer cooperative based in Calgary, Alberta that has developed an innovative approach to providing and promoting local foods. Established in 2014 and officially becoming a cooperative in 2017, YYC Growers is comprised of 13 urban and 5 rural farmers that collectively sell their products through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and at a small number of farmers’ markets. In this paper we examine the development of YYC Growers’ democratic self-governance model and the benefits it has generated, including but not limited to: building relationships of support and knowledge exchange between urban and rural producers; raising awareness and educating citizens about the benefits of supporting local food; combining geographic and production scale diversity to increase consumers' weekly access to a wide range of high quality local products; donating fresh produce to community food organizations; collective development of infrastructure, promotion and marketing; and, job creation. We also examine the influence that YYC Growers’ success has had on provincial support and municipal policy, as well as some of the tensions and challenges emerging as a result of their rapid growth.

Mary Beckie is Associate Professor and Director of Community Engagement Studies at the University of Alberta. Her research on sustainable, localized agri-food systems has taken place in western Canada, the European Union, Cuba, India and Sri Lanka. Mary is the academic lead for the AB/BC node of the Fledge research project.


Elizabeth Bacon is a research assistant with Dr. Mary Beckie at the University of Alberta, as part of the FLEdGE network. In projects related to FLEdGE, she has had the opportunity to investigate the role of local food to enrich regional food systems. Currently, she works as an individual contractor at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal.


Kye Kocher is an urban farmer, founding member and president of the Calgary urban/rural farm cooperative - YYC Growers and Distributors. He is currently interested in the psychological impact urbanization has on our food system and how urban/rural synergies can preserve and understanding of healthy, local sustainable food culture. When he is not farming or doing farm related things, Kye thinks about writing books or being in the mountains. 




Sustainable Governance and Innovations in Food System Development: A Bottom-Up Approach to Creating a Local Food Economy in North Carolina



Krystal M. Chojnacki (author, presenter)

Administrator, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina State University, NC

PhD Candidate, School of Public and International Affairs, North Carolina State University, NC


Rebecca Dunning (Author)

Director, FFAR Fellows Program, North Carolina State University, NC

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Horticultural Sciences, North Carolina State University, NC


ABSTRACT. Sustainable governance is a collaborative and systemic approach to governing that fosters innovation and inclusiveness of a broad combination of actors, processes, and instruments. Sustainable innovations in governance draw from the energy, expertise, and resources of the collaborative to employ more sustainable bottom-up policy solutions. The growth in popularity of local foods and community based food systems as a pushback to rampant globalization of our food industry has given rise in North Carolina to a coalition that is using a comprehensive approach to create a local food economy in the State. Led by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional collaboration between North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, the Farm to Fork Initiative was launched in 2008 as a comprehensive effort to effect lasting change. The initiative, now 10 years in operation, is reviewed in this case study to provide both insight and reflection of a bottom-up approach to creating a local food economy through sustainable governance and innovation.


Krystal M. Chojnacki is an administrator at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at NC State University. Her prior work in local government spans Economic Development, Redevelopment, the statutory duties of City Clerk and City Management. Krystal has a B.S. in Business Administration - Finance from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a Masters of Public Administration from California State University - Fresno, and is currently a PhD Candidate in Public Administration at NC State University with research interests in governance, local food and community based food systems, program evaluation, and inter-institutional, interdisciplinary collaborations.



Understanding place-based food governance: a case study from northern England



John Lever (author, presenter)

Senior Lecturer, Department of Management, University of Huddersfield Business School, UK  


Roberta Sonnino (author)

Professor and Director, Research Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Food, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, UK


ABSTRACT. Drawing on three recent studies of an emergent local food system in a region of northern England, in this paper we examine the potential of placed-based governance as a means of developing the multifaceted potential of food across different areas of service delivery. To explore the factors that potentially enable but also constrain the expansion of the relational networks of human interdependence on which all such developments stand, we draw on insights from figurational sociology and accounts of food-based local governance. Adopting an exploratory qualitative case study approach, we provide insights into the processes involved. While ‘the local’ is still relevant in food debates, we suggest the term ‘placed based’ brings to the fore the idea that connections to places not as distant as once thought must be considered more openly if we are to develop a more socio-ecological robust food system. By developing integrated solutions that address a range of interrelated policy pressures, we argue that place has the potential to develop and rebalance a range of critical factors and policy issues in ways that point to a more-than-territorial dimension of the local. Our presentation provides insights into the work being done by practitioners, what they contribute, the barriers they encounter and what research can contribute to a wider understanding of the difficulties of moving beyond the socio-ecological problems engendered by the global food system. We conclude with some reflections on what has been learned from the research process and how this can inform the work of practitioners.


Dr John Lever is Senior Lecturer in Sustainability in the Department of Management at the University of Huddersfield Business School, UK. He has been involved in international research on many aspects of the food system for well over a decade, including work on kosher and halal food markets, farm animal welfare, and local food. His recent work on migrant workers in the meat processing industry in the UK provided evidence for the 2017 House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report: 'Brexit and the Labour Market'. John has advised national UK bodies on public policy issues and presented findings at the European Commission.


Roberta Sonnino is a Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Food in the School of Geography and Planning (Cardiff University, UK), where she has been involved in international research on food security, urban food strategies and governance and public food policies. In recent years, Professor Sonnino has acted as a commentator to print and broadcast media organizations in Italy, Finland, Denmark, Spain and the UK and has been an advisor on food policy for the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Welsh Government and the Soil Association. 



Shifting Values & Practices in Agriculture

Multifunctional agriculture and place-based development: A social economy perspective on agrarian change in Garfagnana, Italy



Jordan Treakle

Territorial Development Programme Manager, Food and Agriculture Organization


ABSTRACT. The mountainous Garfagnana region in Tuscany, located between the Apuan Alps and the Apennine mountain ranges of central Italy, has witnessed a resurgence in the small-scale farming sector. Rooted in a historical practice of multifunctional agriculture, over the past decade family farmers and local institutions have increasingly focused on place-based development initiatives, such as revalorizing native livestock breeds and promoting agro-ecological education, as means to strengthen small-scale agriculture and the local rural economy. This place-based turn toward innovative socio-ecological agricultural practices is now reshaping the rural development trajectories of many family farms and communities in Garfagnana.


Drawing on qualitative field research conducted in 2015 and follow-up interviews in 2018, this work utilizes the sociological conceptual lenses of multifunctional agriculture and place-based development to analyze three case-study farms, each with a different production system. First, multifunctional agriculture theory is used to analyze how innovative farming practices in the three case-study examples represent a range of adaptive shifts away from productionist trends, and toward a more socio-ecologically diversified approach to farming. Place-based theory is then used to demonstrate how these multifunctional farming practices utilize local histories and materialities to reshape development trajectories in Garfagnana. The core research question of the research therefore examines how new forms of multifunctional farming approaches in Garfagnana can be considered to be fostering a place-based food and agriculture system. Presentation of the paper’s results thus offer glimpses into innovative farming practices taking place in central Italy, as well as aim to provoke discussion on the role of public institutions in supporting place-based development in the family farming sector.


Originally from the mountains of western North Carolina (United States), Jordan Treakle is an international consultant and independent researcher working in areas of agriculture policy, rights-based territorial development, and sustainable food systems. His interest in place-based development stems from completing his Masters of Science at Wageningen University in the Netherlands in 2016, during which he conducted socio-ecological field research in Italy and Kenya. Jordan’s young professional career began with the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, leading grassroots organizing efforts to strengthen farmer lands rights in the southeastern United States. In 2012 he shifted his professional focus to the international policy arena with the Food and Agriculture Organization, where he has worked with civil society organizations to promote agroecology, strengthen smallholder producer organizations, and implement community land rights initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. Jordan is currently based in Rome, Italy.



Localization and emerging technologies: The case of Cellular Agriculture



Lenore Newman

Canada Research Chair, Food Security and Environment Director, Centre for Food and Farmland Innovation Associate Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of the Fraser Valley, BC


ABSTRACT. Local food systems operating near large urban centres often struggle with the challenge of scaling up to meet consumer demand given the short supply and high cost of nearby farmland. This presentation explores the emerging field of cellular agriculture, which involves creating protein through the fermentation of simple feedstocks, creating milk and potentially meat substitutes without the need for large tracts of land.


Leading companies in the field promise much that could appeal to the local food movement, including open source technologies, a grounding in local maker cultures, and a dedication to ethical and environmental food system principles. Founders often position themselves with microbrewers, artisan cheese makers, and other similar small producers, and stress their ability to harness waste streams from other agricultural practices. However many questions remain as to the sustainability of these quickly emerging technologies, questions that need to be addressed as products produced through cellular agriculture rapidly come to market. This presentation introduces these technologies, explores their potential as components of local food chains both as value added use of small parcels of land or urban space, and as a sink for waste products. The presentation also provides an overview of potential problems these technologies might pose drawing on case studies such as Perfect Day Foods (milk), Modern Meadow (leather), and Impossible Foods (burgers). This analysis includes problems of a technical nature as well as cultural critique of these technologies.   


The presentation links to the conference stream of capacity and scale by exploring technologies that allow food production in an extremely small area and that present opportunities for closing a waste stream loop.


Lenore Newman holds a Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley, where she is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and the Director of the Centre for Food and Farmland Innovation. She runs a research program focused on farmland preservation, agriculture on the rural/urban fringe, culinary development, and food innovation, and consults widely on how to protect the world’s farmland while growing the agricultural industry. Her opinion pieces on the future of farmland use and other food-related issues have been published in the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and the Georgia Straight, and her first book, Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey, was published in 2017. She holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from York University. Lenore is a member of the Royal Society of Canada's New College, and the patron of the Farmlands Trust.



Implications of Limited Access to Land: Agroecological Land-based Development Strategies in Rural Guatemala


Maria J. Van Der Maaten

Graduate student (Ph.D.-ABD), Iowa State University, IA


ABSTRACT. Agroecological practices are an important development tool that can contribute to household and regional food systems and food security. However, we must ask to what degree are types of land tenure statuses conducive to implementing agroecological practices? I propose that household implementation of agroecological practices by peasant households in rural Guatemala is determined by access to land, specifically land ownership and parcel size, because of the household’s ability to make long-term plans on its parcel of land. The household’s ability to think long-term (more than one growing season at a time) affects its decision to invest additional resources into new agroecological practices. Agroecological research in Latin America examines agronomic, ecological, and socio-economic outcomes of agroecological practices, but these outcomes are rarely examined in the context of land tenure or land access. Agricultural and rural development research examines inequalities in land tenure and access, but not how these inequalities relate to the implementation and use of agroecological practices. Integrated sustainable practices can only be implemented and yield a sustainable livelihood if households have access to sufficient land to implement them. Guatemala, a country with a long history of unequal distribution of land access to land assets provides a case study of household implementation of agroecological practices in San Martín Jilotepeque, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Qualitative data was collected through interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observation in 2016 and analyzed using a political ecology framework. I found that variations in land assets shape the ability of households to use agroecological practices in rural Guatemala. Access to land, both tenure and parcel size, are critical to understanding how households decide to implement agroecological practices. Households that own land were more likely to implement and use agroecological practices than those that rent land, regardless of whether the land was purchased individually, collectively, or acquired as an inheritance. Households that both own and rent land were likely to implement agroecological practices on the land they owned, but not on the land they rented. Households with larger landholdings were more likely to implement a system of agroecological practices than individual agroecological practices. Households are interested and willing to adopt scalable agroecological practices, but access to resource assets, particularly land, is, was, and will continue to be an important limiting factor in households’ ability to benefit from the implementation of agroecological practices.


Maria is completing a Ph.D. in Sustainable Agriculture and Sociology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa (US). She is a Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security and her research examines how access to resources effect the use of or ability to implement agroecological practices among rural Guatemalan smallholder households. She explores the intersection of access and agroecosystems through a gender-lens and explores some of the ways households are working collectively to overcome challenges that result from a lack of access to resource assets. Additionally, Maria is interested in sustainable food systems, food system resilience, food security, climate change, sustainable rural livelihoods, and rural development. She earned an M.A. in International Development from the University of Denver (Denver, Colorado, US) and has previously worked in Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela.



Confronting Power Concentration in Food Systems: From craft beer to foodsheds

Food system localization and place-making practices in the Ottawa-Gatineau craft beer industry



Chloé Poitevin-DesRivières

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, ON


ABSTRACT. The concentration of power is a significant issue in food systems, in which large global conglomerates control a vast segment of the market in terms of supply, production, distribution and retail. This power dynamic reinforces inequalities, reduces the number of people who have control over the means of production, distribution and retail, and ultimately compromises the ability of people to meet their food needs.


In the beer industry, concentration of power has played out through buy-outs of small breweries and mergers by large brewing firms, referred to as ‘macro-breweries’. Over the past decade, the number of breweries has declined globally, as few firms control the majority of the market. Much like in the broader food system, a counter movement to globalized and industrial production emerged in the beer industry, in which a small-scale, localized production model is favoured. These ‘craft breweries’ espouse similar ideals to local food movements through their support of local communities, economies, and ecologies, and aim to counter the tide of cheap, homogenously flavoured lagers produced by macrobreweries, by striving to craft small-batch, high quality and uniquely flavourful beers.


For craft brewers in the Ottawa-Gatineau foodshed, concentration of power is an important concern. However, there are numerous ways that the over 30 craft breweries are attempting to guard against buyouts by large conglomerates by engaging in more-than-capitalist economic practices. Specifically, many craft brewers seek out strong and non-competitive relationships with other brewers, embrace ecologically sustainable production practices, and actively engage in local communities through advocacy activities.


This study examines the ways in which craft breweries engage in diverse economic practices by participating in localization and place-making processes, developing inter-personal relationships, enriching communities, and enhancing local economies. By investigating these practices in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, this study seeks to understand how craft breweries may be able to withstand the concentration of power in the beer industry, and contribute to creating community economies. This paper is based on my doctoral thesis research and contributes to a growing body of literature on the geographies of craft beer, and critical food studies work on power relations in the broader food system.


Chloé Poitevin-DesRivières is a PhD candidate at Carleton University in Geography and Political Economy. Throughout her studies, she has cultivated an interest in local food movements, eating cultures and alternative economies. In an attempt to turn her passion for beer and brewing into a thesis, Chloé’s doctoral work looks at the ways in which craft breweries in the Ottawa-Gatineau foodshed may be able to withstand the concentration of power in food systems by engaging in diverse economic practices. 



A Case Study of Craft Breweries in Alberta




Stephanie Budynski (author, presenter)

MSc. Student, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta, AB


Dr. Brent Swallow (author)

Professor, University of Alberta, AB


Dr. Mary Beckie, Associate (author)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, AB


ABSTRACT. Calgary, Alberta is home to the ‘Barley Belt’ and ‘Beermuda Triangle’ – a geographic clustering of numerous craft breweries.  Across Alberta there is evidence that craft breweries have emerged in geographic clusters. As a result, the craft brewery industry may serve as an important indicator of the success of a place-based food system in Alberta. This paper aims to determine if policy changes are an effective means in stimulating growth within the craft brewery industry or if the growth has been a result of other contributing factors.

Historically, macrobreweries, such as Keith, Molson, Sleeman, and Labatt, have dominated Canada’s brewery industry. However, in the late 1980s craft breweries began to emerge in communities across Canada. In Alberta, the number of craft breweries increased from 16 in 2012 to 73 in 2017 (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, 2018).

 Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, in this paper we identify and examine the factors – social, political, and economic – that have contributed to the growth of craft breweries in Alberta. Semi-structured interviews, which included Likert scale and open-ended questions, were used to determine if particular factors have impacted the success of local breweries in particular areas with evidence of geographic clustering. Spatial-analysis methods were used to determine if and where geographic clustering of craft breweries occurred in Alberta. Porter’s (1990; 1998; 2000) Diamond of National Advantage model and Kamath et al.’s (2012) General Economic Management System model serve as the theoretical background for the clustering analysis.


Stephanie Budynski is a second-year MSc student in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. Stephanie is co-supervised by Dr. Brent Swallow and Dr. Mary Beckie. Stephanie has done research that examines local food systems across the value chain via cross-Canada and cross-Alberta case studies. Her thesis research examines the geographic clustering of craft breweries in Alberta.



Foodshed Analysis - An applied methodology in the global south



Samuel Vermeulen (author, presenter) 

EkoRural Foundation, Ecuador


Pedro Oyarzun (author)

EkoRural Foundation, Ecuador


Ross Borja (author)

EkoRural Foundation, Ecuador


ABSTRACT. In the past several years, the idea of regional and place-based food economies has gained increased importance due to efforts to decrease food distance. When observing a region’s agricultural resources and opportunities, the term food shed has been used. The study of food sheds uses a landscape approach to delineate a region of food production that can be considered local. The theme of food sheds also encompasses the study of the flow of agricultural products into urban areas and has been used in the study of “food deserts”. Our study applies this framework into the context of the global south. An example of this was completed early this year and was based in the city and area of Riobamba, Ecuador – where the food system is largely reliant on a single, centralized market with various intermediaries.

Within this conventional food economy, little room is left for small-scale farmers to diversify their income or expand into agroecological production. “Local food” has various definitions and we seek to apply a structure to quantify that region from locally available production and socio-economic data. The foodshed data is compiled from regional sources, in our case, the regional wholesaler or distributor (Mayorista). The contribution of alternative food networks also play a key role in fresh food availability and with this analysis, their role can be explored in contrast to the wholesaler data. The end product will consist of a variety of maps and spatial calculations that highlight areas of fresh food disparity or surplus. Using this information, opportunities for small-scale farmers to sell their products in urban areas can be explored. Integrating urban and rural models of production and consumption will supply additional verification of the spatial relationships that drive a region’s food economy. The initial phase of the project was successful in delimiting an area that can be considered local and the characteristics associated with fresh food availability in the urban centre. However; the hopes of the project is to increase application across a variety of food environments. Ultimately, a methodology will be developed that can allow researchers and food system advocates to analyze their regional food system. We believe that this approach can be more homogeneously applicable through the use of publicly available data and the increasing depth of open-source GIS applications.


Samuel Vermeulen is a graduate of the University of Victoria with a BSc in Geography and Environmental Sustainability. In the years following his studies he has spent his time working on different farms on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Building partnerships with restaurants and consumers has given him a chance to be directly linked to the local food system; seeing different opportunities and challenges. His work in Ecuador with the EkoRural Foundation is centered around food system research and GIS analysis. At the same time, his personal research focuses largely on the intersection of nutrition and accessibility of fresh food in urban centers.



Urban Food Access

Placekeeping Cultural Food Assets to Improve Healthy Food Access




Elle Mari (author, presenter)

Director , Urban Food Environments, Center for Community Health, University of California, San Diego, CA


Ariel Hamburger (author, presenter)

Food Equity Specialist, Maternal, Child and Family Health Services, County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency, CA


ABSTRACT. Access to healthy foods can be challenging for people living in underserved neighbourhoods. Limited access to healthy foods, such as fresh produce, is a barrier to healthy eating and can contribute to obesity and other chronic diseases. To address these challenges, the Live Well Community Market Program works with small neighborhood markets to improve and promote access to healthy affordable foods, increase availability of fresh produce, redesign markets, and connect with community stakeholders to build a healthier food environment in San Diego. This work takes a strengths-based approach to understand neighborhood markets as existing cultural and social assets that serve residents who live in neighbourhoods without access to full-service supermarkets. The Live Well Community Market Program (LWCMP) identifies existing cultural food strengths at small markets and provides business development technical assistance for retention and economic growth to transform, yet maintain or “placekeep”, healthy food commerce spaces.

Rather than work towards recruitment or new development of large-scale grocers and advance the potential for gentrification, the LWCMP values and supports pre-existing networks of small, independent markets. This approach of working within established place-based food systems reorients a public health intervention from one of identifying gaps to one of identifying neighborhood strengths. Lack of access to healthy food is not a result of a natural cause, as the term “food desert” implies, but is a result of decades of structural racism and classism. However, communities with limited access have continued to rely on small markets to secure their food needs.

In the City of San Diego, small markets are located throughout various cultural enclaves to serve multiple ethnic groups. However, due to their size and perhaps cultural barriers, owners of these markets have not benefitted from financial support offered through loans, grants, and New Market Tax Credits. The LWCMP supports these markets to increase neighborhood-level access to healthy foods, while providing economic development tools to market owners, and ensuring small business retention. This method finds a synergy between public health and economic development under the pretext of sustainable human economies: realizing the potential of what is already there, rather than growing something new.


Elle Mari is the Director of Urban Food Environments at the Center for Community Health at University of California, San Diego. Elle conducts applied community research projects to improve the urban food landscape in San Diego. She pursues food justice and health equity by positioning small neighborhood food markets as community assets and providing opportunities for growth. Elle also directs the Urban Growers’ Collaborative, a project working with San Diego’s urban growers to support the viability of urban farms and increase local produce access for limited-resource communities. Elle has a Master’s of Science in Food Systems and Society and has worked in the public sector for over a decade, with a drive to tackle inequity in the food system. She has expertise in traditional and alternative local food spaces and was featured as a notable person in San Diego for her leadership supporting the local food economy in underserved neighbourhoods.


Ariel Hamburger is a Food Equity Specialist with the County of San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency and manages the Live Well Community Market Program where she works to create a more equitable food system for all San Diego residents. Ariel has been instrumental in the county’s local food system efforts and helped with the establishment of the Live Well San Diego Food System Initiative and also co-chairs the San Diego Food System Alliance’s Healthy Food Access Working Group. Ariel sees improvements to the food system and built environment as a proxy of social justice and believes these approaches have the ability to transform communities. She graduated with honors from San Diego State University with a Master’s in Public Health and a Master’s in Latin American Studies.




The influence of environmental context on farmer and consumer participation and operations in two direct-to-consumer food system innovations



Jared McGuirt (author, presenter)

Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC


Marilyn Sitaker (author, presenter)

Resource Faculty at Evergreen State College Agricultural Ecology & Food Systems, WA


Jane Kolodinsky (author)

Professor and Chair, Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, VT


Rebecca Seguin (author)

Associate Professor, Division of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, NY


Karla Hanson (author)

Senior Research Associate and Senior Lecturer, Division of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, NY


Stephanie B. Jilcott Pitts (author)

Associate Professor, Department of Public Health, East Carolina University, NC


Alice S. Ammerman (author)

Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Kaufman, Department of Nutrition Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 


ABSTRACT. Central to the concept of Direct to Consumer (DTC) food system models is the idea that place matters, as the environmental context of both the producer and the consumer might influence the success of the producer-consumer relationship. The impact of spatial context may be particularly important when considering a DTC produce box program aimed at improving food access for low income individuals lacking access to fresh local produce. Thus, we sought to better understand how demographic and food store environmental context might influence participation and operational decisions of both DTC producers and consumers within this type of DTC model using a mixed methods approach. Physical addresses of farms, program participants, and distribution points were collected from the farm operations participating in the programs.  Food store competition (supermarkets, etc.) was obtained from a business database and geocoded. ArcGIS Spatial Analyst was used to examine road network distance between farms and participant residences to pick-up sites and store competition, and road network buffers were generated to examine proximal density of store competition to pick-up sites and participants.  Census demographic information (percent minority, percent poverty level, etc.) was joined to the administrative boundaries containing the farms, pickup sites, and participants.  Descriptive and bivariate statistics were generated for spatial and demographic variables, including Modified Retail Food Environment Index (ratio of health stores to less healthy stores) and differences in distance to pick-up site by demographic variables. Qualitative interviews were conducted with farmers and participants, and transcribed and coded. We have collected all data, with final analysis and results pending. We will present findings including the average distances between farm, competition, and customer pickup, density of competing stores around operations, census demographic characteristics of farm and participant environment, and concordance and discordance between qualitative and GIS findings. The findings from this study may help improve the understanding of how environmental factors influence DTC operations and participation among low income individuals.



Dr. Jared McGuirt was born and raised in rural eastern North Carolina, a large agricultural area that inspired his interest in food systems, agriculture, and nutrition. He has extensive experience developing, implementing, and evaluating community food access programs and policies throughout North Carolina, particularly around local food systems and the retail food environment. Dr. McGuirt’s primary research interest focuses on evaluating the use of practical and sustainable policies and interventions which address multiple levels of the social-ecological model to improve dietary behaviors and diet-related health outcomes.


Marilyn Sitaker is a public health epidemiologist who conducts research at The Evergreen State College. Her current work examines relationships between public health, local food systems, and rural economic development. Specifically, she studies how innovative direct-to-consumer agricultural models might improve dietary quality for low-income families. While she has focused mainly on public health agencies at the state and local level, she has also worked in a wide variety of academic and non-profit settings. Her previous work involved designing and implementing an evaluation framework to measure the impact of public health policy, systems and environmental change initiatives to promote physical activity and healthy diets in worksites, schools and communities. 



Farmers Markets of Minneapolis: Development of an Urban Collaborative Model



Tamara Downs Schwei (presenter, author)

City of Minneapolis


Hikaru Peterson (author)

University of Minnesota


Joseph Nowak (author)

University of Minnesota


ABSTRACT. Farmers markets have a century-long tradition in Minneapolis, which currently hosts 29 markets. Markets operate throughout the City with large markets downtown and smaller markets serving neighbourhoods. The markets are independently managed, varying in governance structure, and until recently without coordination.  About 800 market vendors represent a broad range of ages, cultures and geography. The idea for collaborative action among Minneapolis markets was conceived ten years ago and realized in 2017 with the formation of the Farmers Markets of Minneapolis, engaging market managers, the City of Minneapolis, and the University of Minnesota.


Informal discussions among Minneapolis market managers were encouraged by the 2008 launch of Homegrown Minneapolis, a City-wide initiative. Recommendations for Minneapolis markets adopted by the Minneapolis City Council in 2009 included creation of a formal means for Minneapolis markets to coordinate activities. However, due to limited capacity and resources this remained a latent opportunity until 2015 when farmers market managers with renewed interest forged a collaboration with new Homegrown Minneapolis staff and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities faculty to support this. City and University staff time provided infrastructure needed to propel the efforts forward.


Collaborative efforts gained momentum from early accomplishments: the development of a market metrics project and a collaborative strategic plan and marketing campaign. The metrics project was inspired by the need for data to better illustrate community impact. After piloting in 2016, the first season of a three-year metrics project was completed in 2017 surveying 27 markets in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Strategic planning in 2016-2017 identified collaborative goals. A marketing campaign was launched in 2017 establishing the Farmers Markets of Minneapolis brand, supported by the City of Minneapolis and General Mills Foundation. Support for food access programs, technical assistance and operational collaboration is also underway. In 2018, the collaborative is implementing priority strategies and evaluating potential long-term governance structures. Transitions of key partners have posed new challenges for the effort.


We will share factors that contributed to collaboration among farmers markets in Minneapolis and choices the collaborative has faced and made, as a model for communities considering collaborative efforts in urban food system initiatives.


Tamara Downs Schwei has served as City of Minneapolis Food Policy Coordinator for the past four years. Tamara leads and partners on initiatives to improve the community’s ability to grow, process, distribute, eat and compost more healthy, sustainable and locally grown food. Current projects include convening the City’s nearly 30 farmers markets to implement collaborative goals including shared metrics, marketing, training, food access programs, and vendor support.

Tamara previously served as Executive Director of Urban Roots in St. Paul. Urban Roots operates youth internship, education and action projects that improve the community’s health and environment through sustainable agriculture, food entrepreneurship, cooking, and environmental restoration. Tamara spent more than 10 prior years working for public and non-profit agencies toward improved community health. Tamara holds a Master of Public Policy in Sustainable Community and Economic Development from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Spanish.