Making it Work
Community-based food councils link regional and local governments with citizens to look in an integrated way at local food systems "from seed to plate." Growing Green aimed to facilitate development of community-based food councils in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and Capital Regional District (CRD). Wayne Roberts of the Toronto Food Policy Council, a community-based food council with a successful 10-year history, advised Growing Green’s efforts in this area.
Growing Green produced a discussion paper (Closer to Home) and hosted a public meeting in June 2003 regarding development of a food council for the Lower Mainland. After this meeting, the Lower Mainland Food Coalition (LMFC) was formed and the City of Vancouver struck a Food Policy Task Force. Growing Green helped facilitate the work of the Task Force and its links with the Lower Mainland Food Coalition. On December 11, 2003, the City of Vancouver approved in principle a proposed Action Plan for Creating a Just and Sustainable Food System for the City of Vancouver, that would create a City of Vancouver Food Council with two staff: a coordinator and a member of the Social Planning Department. On March 11, 2004, the City approved funding for both positions and brought the Vancouver Food Policy Council into existence.
In the Capital Regional District (CRD), Growing Green helped the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR) develop a baseline food security assessment and host a series of public forums called "Making Food Matter" on regional food issues, from food access to food policy. Growing Green co-produced a discussion paper (Cooking up a Healthy Food System in the CRD) and in October 2003 co-hosted a community leaders’ breakfast where a Food Policy Reference Group was formed to pursue questions about food systems and regional/local government in the CRD.
Links to PDF documents
- Aug 2003 LMFC Policy Recommendations to the City of Vancouver
- June 2003 Closer to Home: a Recipe for a Community-Based Food Organization
- Oct 2003 CR-FAIR discussion paper "Cooking up a healthy food system in the CRD"
- May 2003 Making Food Matter Forum report
- Jan 2004 Baseline Assessment of Food Security in BC’s Capital Region
- Mar 2004 fact sheet re Capital Region Food Security
- CR-FAIR strategic plan and outcomes
- CR-FAIR vision, mission
- Toronto Food Charter
- Mar 2003 Food Councils Backgrounder
Growing Green worked with Smart Growth BC and other partners to identify "best in class" examples of Official Community Plans (OCPs) and bylaws that facilitate rather than block sustainable farm and food businesses. Such measures can help fill the void in regional and local planning regarding food, and link to priority policy recommendations of commnituy-based food councils.
Growing Green assembled relevant OCP and bylaw information from a variety of sources, including Smart Growth BC’s Smart Bylaws Guide, FarmFolk/CityFolk’s Multifunctionality of Agricultural Land project at Colony Farm, research by Growing Green volunteer Nancy Klenavic in the Capital Region, and data from Agricultural Advisory Committees around the province coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
Link to PDF documents
- Smart Growth Smart Bylaws Guide at www.wcel.org/issues/urban/sbg
- Aug 2003 food systems and local government in the Capital Region
- Mar 2003 OCPs and bylaws backgrounder
- MALP at Colony Farm project outline (to come)
- OCP and Bylaw paper (to come)
Sustainable food systems are holistic in nature, so law and policy reform efforts must forge links between agriculture, food, health, environment, and community sectors, and all levels of government. Growing Green’s focus on public health legislation is based on the following linked assumptions:
- Disease prevention is critical to public health
- Healthy eating is critical to disease prevention
- Food security is critical to healthy eating
- Sustainable food systems are critical to food security
Growing Green followed the efforts of staff in the Ministry of Health Planning on redefinition of core health services towards a redraft of the Health Act. The aim was to support the work of the Community Nutritionists Council of BC, the BC Food Systems Network and others who link healthy eating, food security and public health.
Link to PDF documents
- Oct 2003 workshop public health core functions
- Oct 2003 Framework for Core Functions in Public Health
- Community Nutritionists’ Council of BC paper on food security and public health (to come)
- Sep 2003 BC Food Systems Network Mission Statement
- Sep 2003 Back Yard to Front Burner Conference Report
- Mar 2003 public health legislation backgrounder
As the project progressed, Growing Green Project Team members became more and more concerned about issues related to junk food in schools.
As school budgets suffer increasing cuts, school trustees seek new sources of revenue. Vending machines that sell pop and candy can provide additional revenue. However, there are costs to students’ health in terms of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. Too much sugar also has demonstrable negative effects on students’ ability to learn. In addition, there is now evidence that companies manufacturing fatty and sugary foods know their products tend to be addictive, and deliberately target student populations through advertising and merchandising.
Through a member of its Reference Group, Growing Green learned about the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) at the University of Victoria. The ELC is both a non-profit society and a University of Victoria law course. The primary mission of the ELC is to provide research and advocacy on public interest environmental issues. One of its students, Kathleen McIntosh, picked up this topic in fall 2003 and produced a report with policy recommendations for Growing Green.
Link to pdf documents
- Selected materials from Kathleen McIntosh’s submission (to come)
Organizations and people in the middle links of a food system "chain" are key to the survival and health of the whole. Growing Green worked with the Small-Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA), providing strategic advice on its business plans.
On request of processors, the SSFPA was formed in 2001. Its members are processors with 25 or fewer employees (which accounts for about 75% of all processors in BC). The SSFPA was developed and is run by Community Venture Development Services, a consulting company with a community economic development approach and strong links to the BC Co-operative Association and other co-op partners. In its first years of work, the SSFPA articulated and demonstrated the tremendous economic potential of BC small-scale food processors. The SSFPA is currently developing a business plan for a social enterprise that will include (1) the SSFPA itself and its non-market member services, and (2) a member-owned, specialty food shared services co-operative to offer services such as regional branding, bar coding or lab testing.
At the same time as the SSFPA was forming, an exploration of the potential and organizational options for all BC food and beverage processors was proceeding under the auspices of Investment Agriculture Foundation. By early 2004 the blueprint for a BC Food Processors’ Council had evolved to the point where a productive relationship with the SSFPA seemed likely.
In summer 2003, Herb Barbolet, one of the Growing Green Project Team, attended a course in Vancouver and Bologna, Italy on Economics and Management of Co-operative Enterprises sponsored by Van City Capital Corporation and the Centre for Co-operative Economics at the University of Bologna. The Emilia Romagna area of Italy around Bologna is famous for its small-scale co-op ventures of all kinds. Growing Green shared with SSFPA lessons learned in Italy about small-scale farm and food co-ops and possible transferability to BC.
From January through March 2004, Growing Green developed a kit and helped coordinate province-wide input to the Ministries of Health Services and Agriculture, Food and Fisheries regarding a proposed meat inspection regulation under the Food Safety Act. Small-scale meat producers and processors were very concerned that the regulation as proposed would put many of them out of business and thus threaten community-based food security all around BC.
Link to PDF documents
- Mar 2004 meat inspection regulation kit
- Mar 2004 CR-FAIR to Ministers re meat inspection reg
- Feb 2004 SSFPA Business Plan for a Shared Services Co-operative (to come)
- Feb 2004 memo re BC Food Processors’ Council
- Jan 2004 CR-FAIR to Ministers re meat inspection reg
- May 2003 SSFPA update
- May 2003 BC Food & Beverage Processors' Survey
- Nov 2002 SSFPA Market Scoping Report
- Mar 2003 small-scale food processors backgrounder
- Mar 2004 NFU re: abattiors