Webinar: Scaling up Alternative Food Initiatives Embedded in the Social Economy


Presentation held on June 24th

Presentation slides: BALTA Webinar Scaling Local Food Slides


Part 1: BALTA Webinar Scaling Local Food Part 1

Part 2: BALTA Webinar Scaling Local Food Part 2

Full transcription: Webinar Transcript Scaling Up Alternative Food Initiatives

Despite the increasing growth and attention to farmers markets, CSAs, local food box programmes, etc., alternative food initiatives geared towards local production and consumption, many of which emerge from the social economy, remain minor players when contrasted with the conventional food system.

Key Challenge: how to scale-up alternative food initiatives so that they have a greater transformational impact in the larger agri-food system and also serve as a catalyst for broader societal change towards a sustainable and strong social economy?

The case studies examined in this webinar highlight the opportunities and challenges in scaling-up food relocalization without sacrificing commitment to social, economic and environmental values and goals.

We suggest the need to focus attention equally on building physical infrastructure and capacity (production, storage, distribution, retail) whilst also investing in social infrastructure and capacity (coalition-building, partnerships, clustering) required for a robust and resilient local food movement.  We hope to initiate a discussion about the challenges and tensions between pragmatic and transformational approaches to issues of food security, food sovereignty, food justice and sustainability.

Featured Presenters:

Beckie Pic #4Mary Beckie: Dr. Mary A. Beckie is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta. Her research and teaching focuses on sustainable community development, specifically the role of agri-food systems, community-based resource management and the social economy, and is grounded in the scholarship of engagement. Dr. Beckie holds a doctorate in Agricultural Extension and Rural Development from the University of Saskatchewan and has been involved in related work in western Canada, the mid-west United States, Europe, Cuba and Sri Lanka.  Her previous research with BALTA focused on the role of farmers’ markets as catalysts in scaling local food systems.

Sean Connelly photoSean Connelly: Dr. Sean Connelly is a lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of Otago in New Zealand.  His research and teaching interests are in human-environment relations, sustainable community development and local food systems.  He completed post-doctoral research with BALTA focused on local food movements and sustainability and has a PhD in Geography from Simon Fraser University.

4 responses to “Webinar: Scaling up Alternative Food Initiatives Embedded in the Social Economy

  1. Pingback: Upcoming Webinars | Nourishing Ontario·

  2. Comments from webinar participants:

    Judith Anne Hitchman: What tools did you use for the food system assessment? Is it available & transferrable?

    One of the things I have read about Vancouver policy is that the socially excluded have been receiving food stamps to use at the farmer’s market in exchange they are requested to attend cookery and nutrition classes. This is such a great idea, and so easy to scale up: it is a wonderful example of the local authorities + local producers + socially excluded working together!

    I agree that part of the challenge is exactly what you are saying about how to scale up. The answer has got to be more urban ag land, and more small-scale agro-ecological/organic/perma-culture producers, and not the type of scaling up of the good food box. One of the interesting answers is to have boxes with produce from different producers, to make an interesting product mix: fruit & veg, eggs, meat, dairy. This allows the integrity to be preserved. This is the road that has been taken by an increasing number of European CSAs

    How come you haven’t mentioned Community Supported Agriculture, (CSAs), as well as direct sales from farms? The former represents many hundreds of thousands of producers and consumers world-wide!. The specific nature of CSA is the contractualised form of shared risks and benefits, as well as up-front payment that helps the farmers to overcome the seasonal cash-flow issue. The Edmonton case is a very interesting example of how CSAs actually work. But there is a clear methodology available for this. In Canada it is essentially Equiterre who are involved. If there is no charter etc, there is a risk of  not respecting the dimension of solidarity economy and becoming just another marketing gimmick (Not the case you have presented).  There is also a huge difference  in scale between cSAs in Europe and US, for example California. What you are talking about is closer to the European  or Japanese model;

    Susan Roberts: We do have the Ag societies in AB..which could be a building block! And the AB Farn]mers Markets Association?

    Judith Anne Hitchman: In Italy, the GAS (solidarity purchasing groups) have extended from food to clothing and many other products. Those networks exist at global level: Urgenci for Community Supported Agriculture (in Europe we have opened this to other alternative production/consumption initiatives), and RIPESS for social -solidarity economy. They have contintal and national or even regional & local networks.

    If there is a network created of these farmers markets, it could also join the Social-Solidarity network RIPESS, which is a network of networks

    FAO. Something that can be a huge support for Food Councils are the Voluntary Guidelines on the governance of Land Tenure, Forests and Fisheries

    Susan Roberts: Here Here on extending the growing season!

    Melanie Kurrein: The Vancouver Food Policy Council is creating a website http://www.vancouverfoodpolicycouncil.ca/ info is also found on the City of Vancouver website http://vancouver.ca/your-government/vancouver-food-policy-council.aspx

    Susan Roberts: 41 applications for the Edmonton Food Policy Council!

    Daryl Nelligan: I am from Sault Ste. Marie, ON and we experience similar ideas about niche markets and local farmers entering the market at a certain price. The education presented to consumer suggests that with supporting a local food system that foods would be healthier and cheaper. However, farmers markets are overpriced in their FM’s to cover operations, but at the same time are ultimately outcompeted by large grocery retail. Is there a strategy to overcoming the dangers of FMs establishing themselves as niche markets and jeopardizing growth? In Sault Ste. Marie farmers do not typically want to come down in price even when they are growing their operations in he market.

    Judith Anne Hitchman: You can find the Climate Space on Facebook

    Rebecca Mullins: Thank you!

    Michelle Colussi: I am thinking about the drive for economic sustainability as a factor that influenced these initiatives.  It seems to me that their economic viability is a basis for their successful growth – and thus the broader food system impacts they are having.  I wonder if collaboration among multiple food system actors is one way of cross leveraging or sharing both the risks and the revenues – so the revenue from a market based initiative like a good food box program can help support other value chain developments perhaps.  Is there a need to build more networks that represent the whole system?  Do we see the Vancouver work as being further ahead in this regard?

    Angela McGreevy: Can you give an example of vertical linkages?

    Judith Anne Hitchman: What bodies are members of the Food Council?

    The Food sovereignty movement also has specific spaces such as the Civil Society Mechanism of the Committee for World Food Security

    Scaling up does have to involve both joined-up movements. There is a new space, which is the climate Space, where the Food sovereignty actors + Climate change actors + those working to both build alternatives and fight the causes (industrial ag., TNCs). It is a very positive useful space.

    Rebecca Mullins: What I can see as our greatest challenge in our area as related to this discussion is that we have a very small population over a very large area, as well as a cold climate and short growing season.  Any suggestions to help with these challenges would be great!

    Judith Anne Hitchman: have the producers selling at the  farmer’s markets built a formalized network? Are they linked to any other major networks (Via Campesina etc)? Is the bus for senior citizens provided by the local authorities? Is it free?

    Is there any case study or written documentation on Rimby market?

    It’s not that it’s not viable within the industrial framework, it’s that the industrial ag. model has devalued the real value of food!

    In the local food hub, how much is based on social/solidarity economy, how much is based on classical capitalist economy? How did you actively build the Local Food First network?

  3. Pingback: June 2013 eNewsletter | Health in Common·

  4. No legislation is perfect, and if there’s a need for legislation, you can expect opposition from those whose activities
    that legislation will curtail. Conventional farmers utilize chemicals which kills bacteria.
    Some argue that the nitrates, which are used traditionally,
    actually cause mold to develop so this isn’t necessarily a problem in organic farming.
    The EWG’s Dirty Dozen list names the top 12 offenders.
    He writes about and He seeks to campaign for the preservation of environment and wildlife.

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