Local Food Team

Local Foods Update ~ October 2012

Since 2008, the Local Foods Team has been working on the issue of strengthening our local food system and economy. In 2010, the City of Edmonton passed progressive policy (the Municipal Development Plan or MDP) which stated:

before any of the remaining land in the City’s boundaries that is currently zoned agricultural could be rezoned two key strategies would have to be developed: a City Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy (CWFAS) and a Growth Coordination strategy (GCS). They also approved a vision for Edmonton as part of the MDP : “Edmonton has a resilient food and agriculture system that contributes to the local economy and the overall cultural, financial, social and environmental sustainability of the city”. It was the first time in Edmonton’s history that local food and food security were included as part of the planning parameters of the city. This policy happened only because citizens of Edmonton organized themselves with the support of GEA’s member institutions and turned out over 500 citizens three times to City Hall during the two year process. We moved from being food consumers to food citizens…actively engaged in shaping food policy for our city and region.

Since 2010, we have continued to actively engage citizens in the ongoing discussion as to their concerns and imaginations about the future of food and the preservation of agricultural land in Northeast Edmonton. As part of our citizen engagement, we hosted Local Food Training in June. As well, several GEA leaders have participated in both the Advisory Committee for the Horse Hill (Northeast Edmonton) Area Structure Plan (hosted by Waltons, Cameron Development and other key landowners in NE Edmonton) and the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee (hosted by the City of Edmonton). Debbie Hubbard has been the GEA representative on the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee since its formation in October 2011. In September 2012, we hosted a workshop facilitated by Miistakis Institute and invited a variety of stakeholders to learn about tools and mechanisms for conserving agricultural land. (land trusts, conservation easements and transfer of development credits) We were very fortunate to receive a $30,000 grant from Alberta EcoTrust that has supported our work on this issue.

However, there are many competing interests and views in the City about what should happen to the remaining land zoned agricultural in the City.  Pressure is mounting to rezone it and move quickly into development. GEA believes that a win-win solution to those competing interests is possible but that it will take leadership from the City and time to work through a process. All landowners deserve fair compensation for their land. However, through the Municipal Government Act, the City has been given the responsibility to make decisions that protect the long-term interests of all citizens and not the short-term interests of people wanting to make windfall profits. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/travel/OpEd+fork+city+path+future+pave+save+prime+northeast/7287309/story.html

Just as with our earlier action with the Municipal Development Plan, we need folks to flex their citizenship muscle. Plan to come to City Hall Council Chambers on October 26.  There will be a public hearing for the City-Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy from 9:30 to 5:30 pm. Come for the entire day or for whatever part of the day you can. This will be the only Public Hearing that citizens can have a say in the content of the Strategy. It will be held before the Executive Committee (Mayor Mandel and Councillors Sloan, Leibovici, Diotte and Krushell). They will decide whether to send the Strategy back for more work or on to the full City Council for a decision. We know that a citizen presence at City Hall does and can make a difference.

Here is a brief clip by Mark Winne, one of the top food system and food policy council consultants in North America explaining why we need to be both food consumers and food citizens. He presented at the Art Gallery of Alberta on September 13 and was sponsored by the Way We Green, City of Edmonton.
The draft City Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy and supporting documents will be released for Public review on Monday, October 1 at 1:00 p.m. (www.edmonton.ca/foodandag). You have a number of ways to engage and shape the formation of the Strategy over the next few weeks to ensure that all Edmontonians access to healthy food, that our local economy and food system is strengthened and that we preserve some of the best agricultural land for growing fruits and vegetables in the Capital Region.
Stakeholder Open Houses (must register) http://yegfoodag-estw.eventbrite.com/
Monday, October 1 at 4:00 p.m.
Centenniel Room, Edmonton Public Library – Stanley A. Milner Library (downtown)
7 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Tuesday October 2, Drop-in between 4:00pm – 8:00pm
Edmonton Room, Edmonton Public Library – Stanley A. Milner Library (downtown)
7 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Public Open Houses (do not need to register)
Wednesday, October 3
10:00am – 8:00pm – City Hall
Thursday, October 4
4:00pm – 8:00pm – TransAlta Arts Barns (10330-84 Avenue)
Non- Statutory Public Hearings before Executive Committee
Friday, October 26
9:30 to 5:30 (Lunch break most likely from 12:00 to 1:30)
Council Chambers, Edmonton City Hall (1 Sir Winston Churchill Square)
Citizens who wish to speak at the Public Hearing can register in advance online (www.edmonton.ca/meetings), by phone (780-496-8178), or in person the day of the meeting.

Questions?? Please email us at office@greateredmontonalliance.com

Food, Agriculture, and the Battle Over Edmonton’s Future Growth

Mack D. Male’s well researched piece gives a powerful overview of the North East farmlands debate. For more information check out Mastermaq’s Blog. 

City of Edmonton Local Food Survey

We want to hear from you! A public opinion survey on the future of food and agriculture in Edmonton is now being conducted. The survey is one of the tools we are using to gather input from citizens for the development of a food and agriculture strategy. The survey closes on June 23, 2012. Those who participate in the survey have a chance to win an iPod Touch!
The survey is available now at www.edmonton.ca/FoodandAg . Please distribute to your contacts, friends and networks.
Along with the survey we have also posted to our project webpage some new background research materials on the role of food and agriculture in Edmonton, and how other cities in North America are promoting and encouraging local food and agriculture. Please give those a read as well.
And for those who missed our successful Food in the City Conference, videos of the main presentations are now available in our project Video Gallery. You will also be able to view videos of the Citizen Panel discussions, one of the other methods we have used to gather the ideas of Edmontonians. The Video Gallery is available atwww.edmonton.ca/FoodandAg
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The Local Food Team met on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. Northeast Edmonton Agricultural Producers presented their views about important elements of our ask to preserve prime farmland in Northeast Edmonton.  Meaningful dialogue and discussion led to a feeling of increased solidarity and clarity between farmers and other food team members on what we are working toward.  We also had good discussion around strategy, and next steps.
Two ways to become engaged in the Local Food action:
– Join the Local Food Team or host a House Meeting.  Contact Monique Nutter at(monique@greateredmontonalliance.com) if you are interested and would like more information.
– Sign up to become a Friend of Farmers (http://friendsoffarmers.ca).

$30,000 Grant awarded!

GEA’s work in organizing citizens in the Capital Region around the issues of a local food economy and urban agriculture will be greatly enhanced over the next 10 to 12 months. Alberta Ecotrust has awarded the Greater Edmonton Alliance a $30,000 grant to support a project called Working toward Environmental Health through Urban Agriculture. A huge thank you to Laura Jeffreys for writing the Letter of Intent, and to Monique Nutter and Debbie Hubbard who wrote and submitted the full grant proposal!  Also we extend our sincere gratitude to Alberta Ecotrust for recognizing and supporting this valuable work! Please visit Alberta Ecotrust’s website for more information on the valuable service they deliver. www.albertaecotrust.com
Alberta Ecotrust Logo

An update from the Local Food Team…

Work continues at many levels on “keeping the deal” that was agreed to in the passing of the Municipal Development Plan in February 2010.

City-Wide Food and Urban Agriculture StrategyThe first meeting of the Advisory Committee for the City-Wide Food and Urban Agricultural Strategy was held on November 23. Mayor Mandel and Councillor Dave Lokken are the Council sponsors to this project. Debbie Hubbard is the representative for the Greater Edmonton Alliance on this Committee. The scope of the work is quite extensive with the key outcomes being the development of:  a City-Wide Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy, a Food Charter and the recommendations for the formation and governance structure of the Food Policy Council. The timeline for this work will be to have these documents presented to City Council for decision by the end of September 2012. We will keep you informed as to opportunities to be part of the dialogue and public input for this project

The Northeast Agricultural Producers (NEAP)one of our GEA members, has been busy working on their vision for the Northeast and organizing their Friends of the Farmer action. Check out their website to learn more.http://friendsoffarmers.ca

Two ways to become engaged in the Local Food action:
– Join the Local Food Team.  Contact Monique Nutter (mnutter@interbaun.com) if you are interested and would like more information.
– Sign up to become a Friend of Farmers (http://friendsoffarmers.ca).

Organizing for Strong and Sustainable Local Food Economy

Click here to read about GEA’s Campaign, published in the Edmonton Journal.

The Greater Edmonton Alliance has spent much of its time in the past year organizing toward making the Greater Edmonton region food secure for the coming generations.

GEA’s member institutions have done this for the following reasons:

  1. To create a local food economy that is ecologically wise- as buying food locally cuts down significantly on transportation and subsequently reduces green house gases. Currently the Greater Edmonton region imports at least 90% of its food.
  2. Food security is an issue that is truly about the common good. It transcends partisanship and economic class. It affects everyone, although if a region is food insecure, it is the poorest among us who will feel the greatest impacts.
  3. Good stewardship of our land, particularly valuable farmland is a critical social value for many of our members.
  4. To build a sustainable local economy that creates stability and prosperity for our local entrepreneurs.

Click the photo below to read GEA’s strategy for a local food economy in Edmonton.

The Way We Eat

Click Here to download the report

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