Establishing a Wild Foods-based Economy in Northern Ontario


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Speaker: Jessica Bolduc
Session: Forest, Foraged and Wild Food

Published in: Technology, Real Estate
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Establishing a Wild Foods-based Economy in Northern Ontario

  1. 1. Establishing a Wild Foodsbased Economy in Northern Ontario Prepared by: Jessica Bolduc, Research Coordinator NORDIK Institute
  2. 2. Overview  Definition of Non-timber Forest Products and Wild Foods  Prefeasibility Study of Wild Foods Processing in Algoma - partnership with private sector and the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN)  Broader implications facing Wild Foods harvesting in Northern Ontario  Opportunities and benefits of Wild food-based economies  Policy and Research challenges and opportunities
  3. 3. Wild Foods and Non-Timber Forest Products  Definition of NTFPs (Mohammed, 1999):  Botanical products harvested or originating from forest based species  Exclude primary timber products such as lumber and paper  Can be categorized as food, health and personal care products, materials and manufacturing products, environmental products, landscape and garden products, decorative and aesthetic products  Some of the best known NTFPs are those that are from cultivated sources such as maple syrup and Christmas trees/ornamental decorations  Wild foods (forest and freshwater) are typically harvested without cultivation and include wild game, blueberries, rice, plants used for teas, fiddleheads, mushrooms and medicines
  4. 4. What is RAIN? Funding Sources The Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN) is a project of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) and NORDIK Institute, with collaboration and support from local associations, producers, businesses, communities and funding organizations. • Build relationships through networking, collaboration and priority setting • Build capacity of local producers and businesses in agriculture and food through practical workshops, sharing information, and assisting with market development Cooks Station Corporation • Undertake research, tailored to the needs of local producers by conducting crop trials, fostering innovation and sharing research that Algoma Community Pasture improves the sector Association
  5. 5. Pre-feasibility analysis of NTFPs and Wild Foods Processing in Algoma  Collaboration with Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), private sector harvestor and wild foods processing company  Contracted consultant to undertake study – expected completion December 2013  Examining the ownership and financial considerations for establishing a NTFP processing facility in the Algoma District  Study will fill necessary gaps to determine if the processing facility would be viable for potential First Nation’s partners in Algoma  Model could be replicated in other First Nations and communities across Northern Ontario
  6. 6. Project Impacts – Land, People, Economy  Support economic development and create sustainable employment for First Nation communities  Provide supplemental income for areas experiencing declining levels of employment  Temporary project related employment during construction  Creation of several positions related to operations (kitchen, coordinators, warehouse personnel, food scientist)  Estimated 75 seasonally employed foragers needed across Northern Ontario to supply the facility  Income to First Nation communities through social entrepreneurship and business development, partnerships, cooperatives and ecotourism opportunities  Support food security, land and ecological stewardship  Connecting youth with Elders and relating back to Anishinaabe culture and teachings
  7. 7. Project Challenges  Lack of obvious harvesting network in First Nations in Ontario and limited involvement by these communities in the establishment of new economies based on NTFPs  Organizational and business capacity building is essential as well as encouraging youth to consider food-related education and career pursuit  A support strategy is needed for Northern communities on how to access markets for these products and new market opportunities should be developed.  Lack of community knowledge and support for pursuing food based economies over primary resource development (mining, forestry)  Limited research in Northern Ontario for agriculture and food-related industries and a lack of commitment to capacity building for this sector  Barriers arising from existing legislation and land use planning
  8. 8. Broader Context & Implications for N. ON
  9. 9. Benefits of Economies rooted in NTFPs and Wild Foods  Create an approach to development that ensures sustainability of the resources while supporting community economies  Supporting food security for Northern and First Nation communities and promotion of ‘local food ’to support resilient Northern economies  Contribute to health and well-being by providing nutritious diet alternatives that can prevent chronic diet-related illness (heart disease, obesity, diabetes)  Supports intergenerational relationships through knowledge sharing of traditional harvesting and connection to the land  Increases the connection between humans and ecological systems  Foster a broader understanding of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and their implications for community, economic and social development
  10. 10. Traditional Forest based-economy vs the Bio-economy  Boom and bust cycles caused by industrial resource extraction  Northern Ontario economies based strongly on timber and resource extraction  Food and agriculture development has been neglected in favour of primary resource development  Forest Management Planning does not acknowledge or protect NTFPs and wild foods  Wild foods – mushrooms, fiddleheads, blueberries, teas and syrup under appreciated/valued  Wild foods offer policy makers, planners and communities a new way of responding to issues such as unemployment and economic instability while enabling protection and stewardship of natural resources and ecosystems  Triple bottom line – sustainable development that addresses the needs of the land, the people and the economy
  11. 11. Legislation and Land Use Planning  Legislation and land use planning important tools to protect and support wild foods-based economies and protection from exploitation. However:  Ontario’s Northern Growth Plan focused on existing and emerging priority economic sectors but does not balance this with social and environmental concerns  Legislation, tenure systems and strategic planning in Ontario lack attention to NTFPs, including wild foods with minimal direction to their use and conservation  Harvesting and sale of NTFPs are regulated through ad-hoc framework of legislation and policy  Currently missing incentives such as business support, training, information and facilitation for collaboration within the sector and with other industries  New ‘Local Food’ legislation does not acknowledge wild foods as being local and thus supports are likely to not exist at a level at which they are needed
  12. 12. Call to Action – Future Sector Priorities  Identification and valuation of the services provided by NTFP ecosystems in N. ON  Undertake options analysis of NTFP related business to identify options for Northern Communities, support Northern Communities in marketing products and accessing markets  Support for interested First Nation communities in the collection and mapping of NTFP related Traditional Ecological Knowledge of their traditional lands in Northern Ontario  Assessment of the extent of NTFP harvesting by individuals and communities in N. ON and a comprehensive economic valuation of these activities  Assessment of the cultural and social benefits of wild foods and related activities for northern communities  Scan of successful policy and management approaches in other jurisdictions (such as BC) for ensuring the sustainable and equitable use of NTFPs  Supporting NTFP based businesses through access to specialized programs, training, micro-financing and recognition of these ventures as viable business opportunities by lenders and economic development agencies
  13. 13. Miigwetch! Contact: Jessica Bolduc, Research Coordinator NORDIK Institute 1520 Queen St. E P6A 2G4 Email: Web: