Author Karen Hanna
The most advanced ancient civilizations were prolific agricultural producers. They recognized that their success depended on their ability to efficiently grow and produce highly valued products, and to also produce more than they could consume.
Localization of food production is an important topic at Life Force Canada. Eating and growing local removes our dependence on corporate food conglomerates. Local food distribution networks connect our local communities, allowing them to thrive, and be resilient to a global crisis. Having direct relationships with farmers is motivated by the quality and freshness of the food items. It encourages a deep connection and serious commitment.
The focus on food security, food sovereignty and food self-reliance ensures that our local communities meet their food needs in a way that does not destroy resources of future generations. It also increases the health of a community.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a “locavore” as someone who eats only food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius of one’s home. Some define local or regional food as being within in a 200-, 300- or 400-mile radius.
Planet Local: A Quiet Revolution, is a documentary by filmmaker Helena Norberg-Hodge who envisions a future where most of our food comes from nearby farmers who are part of our community and who ensure food security year-round: a future where local businesses are thriving and multiplying and providing meaningful livelihoods for everyone.
Farm to Table Movement
The farm to table movement changes the culture around how we eat. It is a social movement that promotes serving local food obtained from wineries, breweries, ranches, fisheries, and local gardens or farms. It is about the ethics of food production and developing relationships between the stakeholders in the food system: farmers, processors, retailers, restaurateurs, and consumers.
For example, one town raised money for its farmers’ market by hosting a farm to table dinner right in the middle of town. Local chefs and farmers came together to provide a memorable meal, and attendees embraced the true meaning of community supported agriculture. These are special meals or fundraisers offering local and seasonal foods. They usually include a tour of the farm. It is an educational event where the farmer shows and describes the methods used to raise the meat, poultry, fruits, or vegetables.
The community garden movement in Canada is thriving!
A community garden is a wonderful place to meet your neighbors and learn different growing and planting techniques. The gardens foster pride in the community and create strong bonds among all age groups – families, seniors, youth, teens etc. Some communities have garden share lists (GSL) – a list of garden spaces that gardeners can sign up for to work on.
Backyard gardeners and urban homesteaders are coming together to share excess produce at local meetups known as crop swaps. One urban garden with 200 trees feeds 2000 households for free from a 1280-acre patch and supplies food to local markets, restaurants, and food pantries.
We have seen an exponential growth in farmers markets and community supported agriculture in the past few decades. Farmers markets revive our local communities because local markets are fun and vibrant places to meet and gather with like-minded people.
People who shop at farmers markets are motivated by social values. They know that their purchases help maintain local farmland and the local economy. They provide food safety, food freshness, food seasonality, and the economic viability of small-scale farms.
CSA is a farming model built on fairness and transparency for both the farmer and the consumer.
It is a way to support your local farm by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest before the start of the growing season. In return, the consumer receives a regular box of fresh produce.
Benefits: fruits and vegetables are local and typically organic. Websites such as Local Harvest act as a comprehensive directory where you can locate local farms in your area. A CSA usually offers Home Delivery or Local Collection Points.
Food bank use in Canada is at an all-time high. Many families across Canada are struggling due to the cost of food, rent, gas and other essentialsFood sharing carts allow people to freely exchange food they have grown. Most have very simple rules. Take what you need, give what you canExamples of food share programs include beef shares, raw milk, etc. Most require a PMA (private members agreement) of some type.
Food Hubs & Food Co-ops
Local food is only a small portion of the total food market. Food hubs represent a strategy for small and mid-sized local and regional producers to market their products locally.
Food hubs facilitate the aggregation, marketing, and distribution of products from local farmers and ranchers to consumers, retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, and institutions (nursing homes, schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias).
A food hub connects rural food producers with rural, suburban, and urban markets. Rood hubs strengthen rural economies by lowering entry barriers and improving infrastructure to create or expand regional food markets. They create rural jobs and provide fairly traded goods.
An example of a food hub is a community owned grocery store and cooperative where half of the food sold is produced locally: bread, pastries, soups, salads, wines, gourmet chocolate, gourmet oils, shampoo, herbal remedies etc.
Food hubs might be private, non-profit, cooperative, public, or informal. They develop scale efficiency and improved distribution.
Food coops are part of a movement that proves that respecting people is good for business. Food coops enhance local economies, build sustainable agricultural networks, and offer healthy food choices.
A co-op is a collaboration and cooperation with many like-minded individuals. It is a business voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it. Co-ops offer decentralization of power and control where each member has a voteStarting a food co-op involves start up, infrastructure, food facilities, storage and preservation, and distributionStarting a co-op requires vision, talent, capital, systems. Stage 1: Organizing. Stage 2: Feasibility and planning. Stage 3: Implementation.
Alberta Community Farm to Table
Growing From the Ground Up is a community-based initiative with a vision to bring farmers and customers together. They offer farm to table service in Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton.
Growing From the Ground Up supports local farmers and producers and helps them connect with customers desiring access to healthy farm fresh food. Growing From the Ground Up works directly with over 34 farmers, over 340 products, and provides deliveries twice a month.
Customers are encouraged to reach out directly to the farmers on the website. Ask them questions. How do they farm? What do they use for animal health? How are their market gardens grown?
Family farms take great pride in the care of their livestock and foods. They list their products as being free from pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and use regenerative farming practices. You can contact the farmers yourself and talk to them directly and find out if what they do is what you are looking for!
LFC Agriculture Forum
Here you will find or can share articles of interest to our members.
LFC Tuesday Connection
Weekly open forum conversations on food and water, natural law, health & wellness and building parallel communities and structures. Includes weekly regenerative agriculture reports from our LFC Agriculture Forum.
Life Force Canada YouTube Channel
Growing From the Ground Up (Alberta)
Agri Tourism / Open House
Alberta Open Farms Days is an incubator for Agri-tourism and rural sustainability. Albertans come together through educational and experiential agricultural-based initiatives to learn about where your food comes from. Alberta’s most talented chefs and rural communities host a memorable series of farm to table culinary events around the province using Alberta farm products. https://albertaopenfarmdays.ca/
Before the Plate
This documentary follows young farmers and industry experts to show what a modern Canadian farm operation looks like. It follows food staples of the Canadian diet from farm to harvesting and processing and showcases the final product at Canoe, a Toronto’s restaurant. Warning: this film somewhat supports the use of pesticides and growth hormones.
2-minute preview: https://youtu.be/AcxNaTGadw0
Coop Food Directory
Find and support local food co-ops. https://grocerystory.coop/food-co-op-directory