March 2012 Community Meeting: Resiliency in the Local Food Movement

On March 5th 2012, over 50 community members met at Metro Hall to discuss resiliency in the local food movement. Is a truly resilient local food system characterized by collective ownership, permaculture, public private partnerships or any number of other things?

Our Panel speakers included Jacob Kearey Moreland from Occupy Gardens, Hannah Renglich from the Ontario Natural Food Co-op, and Elizabeth Curran from the Stop Community Food Centre. Jacob enlightened us on a brief history of food and farming, and the transition back towards natural systems of farming. He also shared his experiences in creating a “wiki-farm” — a farm open to all and requires no commitment. Hannah explained how cooperative enterprises are community entities that serve to meet local needs while using local resources/capital. Elizabeth shared different models of resiliency, including the use of Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs).

The community group broke off into a brainstorming session; the following reflects what was discussed:

1. Policies around growing your own food
The break-out group believes that there is a need to localize the market and economy, we can start by allowing urban gardeners to sell their vegetables to others and at markets. Policies should be aimed towards making society more equitable,  and should address different ways of connecting with food.
The group also came up with several tips for individuals interested in growing their own food: make a garden plan before the growing season; and sometimes you should do something even if barriers exist (you don’t need to ask permission to do the right thing).

2. Alternative business models
The break-out group identified several values for alternative business models: people; economic sustainability; enhancement of the triple bottom (economic, social and environmental sustainability); transparency (finances and just practices); training and providing individuals with employable skills; creation of a knowledge bank to preserve and share historical knowledge; transfering ideas for the collective knowledge; as well as seeking more than employees, for example volunteers and interns.

3. Sustainable policy around growing/producing alternative food options in urban settings
The break-out group recommended changes to land use policy (i.e. having governing bodies, changes to zoning and by-laws, and creating tax incentives to ensure that land is being used); protection from externalities (government intervention when needed); and changing the labelling of food (creating better labelling governing schemes).

4. Resiliency and avoiding burnout
Here are some tips for all activists and change makers:  Self care is the most important component of adulthood, but the last thing we learn. Make time to learn how and practice taking care of yourself. Working smarter, but also not working. Schedule down town. Suspend your thoughts (spiritual needs), partake in activities that nurture yourself (emotional needs), rest and sleep (physical needs), and create strong social bonds (emotional needs). Delegate and share your workload. Don’t over commit. Acknowledge your limits. Appreciate small successes.

Please visit our facebook for more photos from the meeting!

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