Food Resiliency & TransitionKW


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An exploration of what is food resiliency, and how the Transition Town movement contributes towards it. Examines what is happening in Waterloo Region and beyond both nationally and internationally, with a special emphasis on the efforts of TransitionKW,

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  • The Earth seen from Apollo 17. Photo courtesy of NASA. From the Wikimedia Commons.
  • Nine of the 10 warmest years on record since the year 2000 ( Energy production leveling out (TC) Since 2005, world oil production has plateaud between 84 and 87 million barrels a day (Transition Handbook[TH] 22) Transition Companion [ TC] p. 30 We're not running out of oil, we're running out of the easy to find stuff Oil discoveries have fallen since their peak in 1965 (TH p. 22) Offshore oil rigs expensive, cost of skilled labor, political considerations and geopoliltical risk (TH p. 25) ______________ Note: Hirsh Report, commissioned by US Department of Energy: peaking likely to occur in next 10 or 15 years – viable mitigation options exist, but must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking (TH p. 41) _____________________ Polar bear -> Polar bear swimming toward a ship Photo courtesy of Brocken Inaglory . From the Wikimedia Commons.
  • Community gardens / yard sharing – in parks, boulevards, parking lots (Transition Staunton Augusta, Virginia ), yardsharing (TT Guelph) Markets / Cafés / “Crop Swaps” - TT L.A. (exchange excess produce) , Transition Berkley (crop swaps), Transition Cafes – Wivenhoe, UK. Urban fruit tree harvesting - Toronto, L.A., “Transition Kensal to Kilburn” Potlucks / “slow food” dinners - Transition Sydney (Food is Medicine slow food event) Reducing food waste events – Bassingbourn, UK Farm work opportunities (TT El Manzano, Chile - Visitors can work in the community (i.e. on farm)
  • L.A.  harvest-sharing , plant fruit trees Peterborough  Slow Food and Culture Festival , wild food foraging Guelph  Sharing Backyards, backyardbokboks (
  • Economy-community-environment Need to recognize community value of food (WR) Greater livability - i.e. biking in countryside
  • Improved nutrition and health : Locally accessible “Neighbourhood Markets” in Kitchener 90% of the regular customers who filled in the survey (n=64) indicated that they ate more vegetables In Waterloo Region , about 10% of residents experience food insecurity , which means not having enough to eat, worrying about not having enough to eat, not eating the desired quantity or variety of food due to lack of money p. 1 Half of residents in Region were either overweight or obese in 2003 In Canada: one in ten families with a child under six is unable to meet their daily food needs (United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food De Schutter Chronic health problems (type II diabetes , high blood pressure -> associated with higher levels of depression , stress , anxiety , social isolation, eating disorders, impaired cognitive abilities, and increased use of clinical services ( p. 27) World : In midst of food crisis 925+ million ( one in seven people ) experiencing chronic hunger ( p. 5) Crises only predicted to increase, as world population increases and more importantly disparities in wealth grow wider Economic development Number of Waterloo Region food industries growing well above industry average p. 37 Food and agriculture accounts for 11% of labour force in Waterloo Region (Harry Cummings and Associates, Growing Food and Economy Study , Region of Waterloo Public Health, 2003. See “ ...growth that comes from the agricultural sector, particularly small-scale production, has twice the effect on the poorest as growth from other sectors.” (The Worldwatch Institute [WWI], State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity , p.155) Canada: Food imports have increased over 50% since 2000 ( Thousands of family farms are disappearing every year (Canada lost ~ 17,500 farms between 2001 and 2006 alone) ( p. 5) Environment Lowered greenhouse gas emissions Imports of 58 commonly eaten foods travel an average of ~4,500 km to Waterloo Region = 16,919 cars off road! Protection of heritage seeds Since the 1900s, some 75% of crop diversity has been lost from farmers’ fields. ( Only about 150 plant species are now cultivated commercially worldwide (WWI p. 154) “ Like a cascade of water down a cliff , the benefits of food [planning] initiatives continue to flow into an ever-widening range of territory . Start with a garden project to improve nutrition, then watch the benefits of exercise, socializing with neighbours, knowledge about environmental processes, reduction in greenhouse gases, increased safety in parks, improvements in the walkability of cities, enhanced entrepreneurial skills, heightened interest of tourists ... and on and on...” (Wayne Roberts [WR], The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food. 2008, p. 94)
  • Foodland Ontario - Inception in 1977 – includes promotions to 1,200 stores across the province Ontario Farmland Trust - Non-profit charitable organization, established in 2004, whose mission is to protect and preserve farmland
  • FoodLink – Started in the summer of 2000. (This group included representatives from Public Health, the network of community gardens, the local organic sector and emergency food programs.) Farmers’ Markets - Waterloo Region features four large farmers’ markets ( Cambridge, Kitchener, St. Jacobs, and Waterloo ) as well as three emerging markets ( Elmira, Wellesley and New Hamburg ) ( Food Buying Club (Bailey’s) Community gardens ( 40+ ) ( Local food groups ( Waterloo Region Food Systems Round Table , Community Garden Council, etc.) Favourable land use planning (i.e. community gardens ( ), Rural Mixed Use/Agricultural Clusters - enable Mennonites to settle away from towns and villages with their horses and way of life ( ).
  • Poor planning (i.e. food “deserts”, proximity of fast-food restaurants to schools -> restaurant would have to conduct a “health offerings check” (Samina Raja, Branden born, and Jessica Kozlowski Russell, “A Planners guide to Community and Regional Food Planning”, 2008, p. 99) “ Chicken-and-the-egg” -> Changing consumer behaviour and Supportive retailers Attracting new farmers Challenges of small-scale production (global competition, costs of labour etc.) (see )
  • Obsession with productivity (post WWII mentality) -> “agro-military complex” || industrial-military complex i.e. Ambush, Force, Warrior, and Battalion pesticides (WR). To point where now we are just gulping food down in the car while talking on a Blackberry (WR pp 31, 33) GMO foods & “terminator” seeds destroying biodiversity ( p. 19) – Along with that, increased privatization of seed stock. 10 multinational seed companies now control 73% of the world's commercial seed market , up from 37% in 1995 (see p. 22 "Who Owns Nature?" available at Dumping of subsidized food - World Trade Organization came into effect in 1995 opening up free trade . Many of the crops like corn, soya, barley and wheat make cheap meat available (WR pp. 47, 50) Waste treatment (i.e. human sludge in Dundalk, Southgate Township. See ) Trade policies that prohibit purchasing policies that favour local food ( p. 27) (i.e. CETA – Canadian European Trade Agreement. See Other Threats: Global climate change means cannot totally rely on local food ( Erosion of “community” undermines people’s capacity to strengthen local food systems ( p. 19) Global land grab to feed biomass-intensive “green” technologies ( p. 19) 20% of US corn for ethanol. But 50% of the US corn crop actually for animal feed (WR p. 167) Anthropocentric values -> “It is not the earth that belongs to the people, but the people who belong to the earth.” (Blanco -> heroic fighter for Peruvian peasants) (WR p. 84) ______________________________ Image A factory worker in 1940s Fort Worth, Texas, United States. Photo courtesy of United States Library of Congress. From the Wikimedia Commons.
  • Farm-to-table (Farm to fork) - A movement started in the 70’s concerned with producing food locally and delivering that food to local consumers. La Campesina – A movement born in 1993 whose main goal of the movement is to realize food sovereignty. Emphasizes that people must have a say in how their food is produced and where it comes from (See Focuses on “a model of small scale sustainable production benefiting communities and their environment.” & how “Food sovereignty prioritizes local food production and consumption.” (see & Terra Madre - Network of food communities, each committed to producing quality food in a responsible, sustainable way - convenes every two years in the Fall (see and
  • Some promising things happening in the UN too. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has recently released a major report outlining how: a wide-spread global shift to ecological agriculture would not only be environmentally superior to continuing an extensive reliance on chemical fertilizers, but that it would double food production in key areas of hunger in less than ten years , while strengthening resilience to respond to climate change . ( “Eco-Farming Can Double Food Production in 10 Years, says new UN report,” Press release, United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, 8 March 2011. Available online at: Despite the disappointing lack of targets or initiatives undertaken by RIO +20, there was some promising behind-the-scenes work: 1) i.e. Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change (2012) r ecommended enhancing local capacity through: farmer and community-based organizations, reinvigorating local markets, and provide growing space for local families (see This sentiment echoed by the World Watch Institute , which focused in 2012 on making recommendations for RIO +20 (p. xix. & p. 154-5 )
  • Towards a National Food Strategy (2011): A framework for securing the future of food- First Strategic Objective : “ Canadian grown, fresh and processed products are the first choice of Canadians ” ( By Canadian Federation of Agriculture , an NGO f ounded in 1935 to provide Canada's farmers with a single voice in Ottawa, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country's largest farmers' organization ( Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute - “ 75 by 25 ” - Produce and supply 75% of our own food by 2025 (up from 68%) Feb 2011 Established as a not-for-profit corporation in 2004 by the federal government ( The People’s Food Policy Project (April 2011 ) ( – Grown out of the Via Campensina movement. Includes supporting a Canadian national food policy that “ Localizes the system so that food is eaten as close as possible to where it is produced and so that food dollars support the local economy .” Local Food Plus - A Canadian non-profit organization that brings farmers and consumers together to build regional food economies. Certification program for Certified Local Sustainable food . (
  • PPS: Have seen an improvement of food and agricultural policies in the PPS i.e. no severance for retirement lands , “ consistent with ” as opposed to “have regard for” (1997 vs 2005 ) ( vs ) ROP : ( Ensure that development occurring within the Urban Area is planned and developed in a manner that: facilitates residents’ access to locally grown and other healthy foods in neighbourhoods Transportation policies should provide “an appropriate mix of land uses , including a range of food destinations “ Bike trails and paths include access to food destinations Area Municipalities…develop and implement an Urban Greenlands Strategy that: promotes green roofs, community gardens and tree planting in urban areas; "Rural Mixed Use/Agricultural Clusters“ - City of Waterloo Official Plan (2011): gives preference to small and mid-size food stores over large-format grocery stores, sets a goal of having a food store within 2km of every resident in the City, permits community gardens and temporary farmers' markets in all land use designations . (See
  • Growing number of community gardens (18K), farmers markets (~4.5K in the U.S) in NA (Raja et al. p. 9) Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture - 26,372 signatures. U.S. based. National Student Food Charter – see
  • City Beautiful Movement (early 1900s) – Access to healthy, quality food . (Tearing up gardens in some places to make room for promenades, and building them in others.) (See American Planning Association (APA) Food Systems Steering Committee (2006) –To “ educate planners about food systems and to integrate food systems planning within traditional areas of planning ”. Examine food quality of availability systematically. (Raja et al. p. 2) OPPI Healthy Communities and Planning for Food Symposium (2010) – Focused on planners’ role in ensuring appropriate spaces for growing food or raising animals, space for the selling of the products of local agricutlutre, and efforts to ensure a healthy diet for Ontarians, wherever they live and whatever their income level (Philippa Campise, “Back to the future of food,” Ontario Planning Journal , July/August 2010, v. 25, no. 4, p. 4)
  • Legislation and policy: Mentioned already a tightening of the PPS. But then Canada raising limits on pesticide residues - May 8, 2007. Doing so to harmonize with the U.S., despite recommendations by David Suzuki Foundation that they not do so (see Other ways legislation can help is with ethical treatment of animals (WWI p.168) Zoning : Allow for urban agriculture very impo. Most people live in city , less fuel needed, ideal setting for food that should be mainstay of people’s diet (labour intensive) (WR pp. 90-1) Don’t assume grocery stores the answer. Small grocery stores can provide healthy food , especially for minority groups with unique diets. They are also more walkable (Raja pp. 93-4) Can help through Site Suitability analysis (GIS) that assesses access to food outlets , relation to transportation routes including bus, and demographic indicators (does a particular group have less access to food?) (Raja pp. 87, 94) Land Regulation : i.e. Cows by streams – farmers receive fees to protect drinking water (WR p. 144) Urban chickens Managing of “humanure” in Colombo Sri Lanka (WR p. 177) Possible to even limit fast food restaurants (Raja p. 24) Programs & grants: Community gardens . Producer organizations that assist small producers by obtaining loans, providing info etc. (WWI pp. 158-9). And even koloni’s , Sweden (WR p. 64) Farm-to-school programs – Fresh, healthful food (Raja p. 15) ALUS (Alternative Land Use Service ) – Money for eco-services land conservation and pollution prevention, plus sales from sustainably grown cattle (WR152-4) Full-cost accounting? i.e. biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions (WWI p. 167) All ways to help move away from monoculture towards non-industrial scale farmers that grow an array of produce more sustainably using agroecology practices Public outreach: Community engagement. For instance, Waterloo Region did 11 focus groups to identify actions for achieving an interim report’s strategies ( p. 6) Partnerships with other organizations: i.e. Food Policy Councils such as the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable . These councils can create food charters to guide a community’s food system (Raja p. 18). To quote Raja: “ Planners often play the role of facilitators, coordinators, and negotiators in land development process” (p. 92) Therefore, ideally suited for this role. Connect farms with schools, farmers with consumers, producers with processors Share information i.e. zero energy greenhouses – Energy generated from compost instead (WR p. 175). Geodesic , geo-thermal greenhouses (se / &
  • A lot of negative feelings towards planners and how food in general is being managed. “ ...talking to the producers face to face gives you the real stories. Like the struggle with daft government health and hygiene regulations which are there to protect the public, but are entirely aimed at the practices of large food manufacturers and are draconian and inappropriate for small, artisanal businesses. And the illogical and absurd demands from the planning department when you want to put up a poly tunnel or a shed in your market garden. It's as if the authorities are going out of their way to make it as difficult as possible for small scale food production.” ( “ Supermarkets are our materialistic churches of desire, catering to our addictions for sugar, fat and salt, to our weakness for novelty . To get out of them you need to drop the desire. It's not a decision you make rationally. No one persuades you to "change your behaviour". One day you see the pattern and are shocked to find blood on your hands.” (
  • The responsibility that people have to play is perhaps well described by the term “ foodizens ”. Another word is to redefine eaters as “co-producers” / “prosumers” -> eaters constructive to producers is a crucial part of the creative food process ( WR p. 62) Things that citizens can do, in addition to many of the already discussed things like community gardens and local buying clubs, is to boycott and buycott (WR p. 142). Of course, do not over-rely. Government has role too . That is gaping hole in Omnivores Dilemma according to Wayne Roberts (p. 24)
  • There is a role still for planners. We needn’t be frightened. Rather, excited by this opportunity for community partnership. (see
  • The End. Fallen Fruit is an artists' collaboration, based in Los Angeles, whose three members are David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young. Using photography, video, performance, and installation, Fallen Fruit's work focusses on urban space, neighborhood, located citizenship and community in relation to fruit.[1] Worthy of highlighting, given it harkens back to Transition’s desire to use art to raise awareness about resilience issues. ____________________ City Hall / Fruit Protest Photo courtesy of Davburns1970. From the Wikimedia Commons.
  • Food Resiliency & TransitionKW

    1. 1. Tr ansition Towns &Food ResiliencyAlisa McClurgSeptember 14, 2012
    2. 2. Outline  What is the “Transition Town” movement  Local, resilient food (e.g. within TT context)  Promising eg’s of change (TTs & beyond!)  Resistance/obstacles to change ------  Role of planning in relation to food
    3. 3. What is the TransitionTown movement? Promotes local community resiliency
    4. 4. How do TransitionTowns promoteresiliency? Seek to address:1. climate change2. peak oil, and (now)3. economic uncertainty
    5. 5. Where are itsmembers? Started in Totnes, U.K. (2005) Over 900 initiatives in 34 countries Europe, North America, Australia etc.
    6. 6. How are TT’s changinghow we relate to food?  Local food production  Emphasis on “permaculture”  Farming according to principles of ecology  “permanent” + “agriculture”  Not waiting for government!
    7. 7. What is happeningspecifically? Community gardens/yard sharing Markets / Cafés / “Crop Swaps” Urban fruit tree harvesting Potlucks / “slow food” dinners Reducing food waste events Farm work opportunities
    8. 8. What are someexamples in NorthAmerica?  L.A.  harvest-sharing, plant fruit trees  Peterborough  Slow Food and Culture Festival, wild food foraging  Guelph  Sharing Backyards, backyardbokboks
    9. 9. What is happening withTransitionKW?  Started in Fall 2009  ~100 members  Awareness raising about:  Climate change + peak oil = ? Food security  Local economy  Pollination  KW Urban Harvester...
    10. 10. Struggles andSuccesses - + Where do we fit/ “Resiliency” = flexible what is our focus? adaptation How do we stay in Deals with touch? complexities How do we organize Less structure = broad ourselves? appeal Low overhead
    11. 11. Economy Community Equity Resilience Sustainability Livability EnvironmentAdapted from Hancock, T. , Labonte, R., Edwards, R., (1999). Indicators that Count!-Measuring Population Health at the Community Level
    12. 12. Economy Community •Improved nutrition•Economic diversity •Food options•Self reliance Equity •Food access•Decreased oil •Social tiesdependency •Working conditions•Dollars at home •food = necessity Resilience Sustainability Livability •Decreased fossil fuel use •Greater control over inputs (fertilizers, pesticides etc.) •Protection of seed stock and farmland Environment Adapted from Hancock, T. , Labonte, R., Edwards, R., (1999). Indicators that Count!-Measuring Population Health at the Community Level
    13. 13. Examples of local foodinitiatives  Foodland Ontario  Ontario Farmland Trust
    14. 14. Regional local foodinitiatives  FoodLink  Farmers’ Markets  Food Buying Club  Community gardens (40+)  Local food groups (Food Systems Round Table)  Favourable land use planning (i.e. community gardens)
    15. 15. Obvious threats toresilient local foodsystems  Poor planning (i.e. food “deserts”, sprawl)  “Chicken-and-the-egg” -> consumer behaviour & supportive retailers  Attracting new farmers  Challenges of small-scale production
    16. 16. Less obvious threats toresilient local foodsystems  Productivity obsession (post WWII)  GMO foods & “terminator” seeds  Dumping of subsidized food  Waste treatment (i.e. human sludge)  Trade policies (i.e. CETA)
    17. 17. Moving towardsresilient food systems?  Farm-to-table (Farm to fork) movement  La Campesina (1993)  Terra Madre (2004) - Produce food in sustainable way
    18. 18. Moving towardsresilient food systemstoday?  Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change (2012)  Sought to enhance local capacity:  farmer and community-based organizations,  reinvigorating local markets, and  provide growing space for local families
    19. 19. Canadian local foodinitiatives  Towards a National Food Strategy (2011)  Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (2011)- “75 by 25” (up from 68%)  The People’s Food Policy Project (2011) – Localize the system  Local Food Plus - Brings farmers and consumers together regionally
    20. 20. Provincial andmunicipal initiatives  Shall be “consistent with” (PPS 2005)  Region of Waterloo – Promotes access to healthy food, community gardens  City of Waterloo – Community gardens, <=mid-sized food stores
    21. 21. Other indicators  Growing number of community gardens, farmers markets in NA  Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture -  National Student Food Charter (NSFC) -
    22. 22. Planning initiatives  City Beautiful Movement (early 1900s)  APA Food Systems Steering Committee (2006)  OPPI Healthy Communities and Planning for Food Symposium (2010)
    23. 23. How planners can promoteresilient food systems?  Legislation and policy  Favourable zoning or by-law changes  Land regulation policies  Programs & grants  Public outreach  Partnerships with other organizations
    24. 24. ...illogical and absurd demands [are placed onyou] from the planning department when youwant to put up a poly tunnel or a shed in yourmarket garden. Its as if the authorities aregoing out of their way to make it as difficult aspossible for small scale food production. Food in Transition: Growing, gathering and sharing,” Ann Owen, June 2012
    25. 25. Role of Planners inFood: Citizenship is a two-way street, not just about government doing things for the people” (p. 95) The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, Wayne Roberts
    26. 26. Role of Planners inFood cont. The community doesnt need or want more experts telling them what to do. We want partners and we want help to develop and implement our dream. Transition is assisting our community in analyzing the confluence of inter-related challenges that we develop a common vision and take more action to achieve it. Fred Brown, TT Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, “Transitioning a Low-income, Inner-city, Marginalized Community,” March 2013