Books and Book Chapters

The Role of the Social Economy in Scaling Up Alternative Food Initiatives

by Dr. Mary Beckie and Dr. Sean Connelly (published in 2016 in Scaling Up: The Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability, Athabasca University Press)

There are a growing number of alternative food initiatives that are influencing changes in the ways in which food is produced, distributed and consumed. In this chapter, the authors describe and analyze collaborative innovations emerging from the social economy that are contributing to community transformation through the resocialization and relocalization of food. Case studies of Edmonton’s Good Food Box, the Rimbey Farmers’ Market and the New City Market local food hub in Vancouver illustrate specific nodes at the intersection of the social economy and nascent alternative food systems.

Download the chapter for free.  (Click on the tab for “free PDF”, then go down to chapter 3 in the list of chapters and click on the download button.)


Vancouver Farmers’ Market

The Resilience Imperative, Co-operative Transitions to a Steady State Economy

by Mike Lewis and Pat Conaty (published in 2012 by New Society Publishers; French translation, Impératif Transition: Construire une économie solidaire published in 2015 by les Éditions Écosociété; Korean translation published in 2015 by Tabi Publishing)

RI English version

This book is based upon research and reflection supported by BALTA during its initial research program from 2006-2012. It explored many of the themes that became central to BALTA’s work in its Scaling Innovation for Sustainability Project. With our communities confronted by major sustainability challenges, many linked to the impact of climate change, it argues for replacing the paradigm of limitless economic growth with a more decentralized, co-operative, steady-state economy.  It examines case studies of success in energy sufficiency, local food systems, low-cost community based financing, affordable housing and land reform. One chapter of the book focuses on food.

Order the book.

Order the book in French.

Order the book in Korean.


Scaling up Alternative Food Initiatives Embedded in the Social Economy

Featured Presenters:  Mary Beckie,  University of Alberta; Sean Connelly, University of Otago

Despite the increasing growth and attention to farmers markets, community supported agriculture, 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. The key challenge is 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 relocalisation without sacrificing commitment to social, economic and environmental values and goals.

Access a recording of the webinar, the power point presentation and a transcript.

Research Reports and Other Resources

Farmers’ Markets as Social Economy Drivers of Local Food Systems

Research Leads: Mary Beckie, University of Alberta; Hannah Wittman, Simon Fraser University

Co-Researchers: Paul Cabaj, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal; Herb Barbolet, Simon Fraser University
Student Research Assistants: Chris Hergesheimer, Simon Fraser University; Emily Huddart Kennedy, University of Alberta; Melisa Zapisocky, University of Alberta

There is growing interest in the re-localization of food systems. Farmers’ markets are important and increasingly prevalent sites of economic and social exchange in the evolution of local food systems. Little is understood, however, about the role of farmers’ markets in fostering increased local production and consumption, or the broader impacts of these social economy enterprises on the communities (both urban and rural) and regions with which they are associated. This research over two phases has examined and compared the current and potential role of farmers’ markets in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, as social economy drivers for local food systems.

View power point presentation on the research.

Read journal article, “Linking Local Food Systems and the Social Economy? Future Roles for Farmers’ Markets in Alberta and British Columbia”.

Read journal article, “Scaling up alternative food networks: Farmers’ markets and the role of clustering in western Canada”.

Read “Farmers Markets, Local Food Systems and the Social Economy: A Thematic Literature Review”.