New Publication: Integrating Urban Agriculture

Urban Food Strategies is thrilled to announce the publication of Integrated Urban Agriculture (2016). Edited by Robert L. France. Libri Publishing, Oxfordshire, This book includes chapters from seventeen of North America’s preeminent authors and scholars on urban agriculture and urban food systems.

Comment from an anonymous, expert reviewer of the MS draft: This is an exciting interdisciplinary approach by a well-coordinated, closely working team. The book is accessible, well written, free of jargon, and full of pictures, graphics and charts. In all fairness, this is one of the most exciting and innovative books on urban agriculture I have seen in recent years. It combines original papers and commentary/reflections to them which make it a perfect candidate for class discussions. This volume is as much about imagining urban and urbanism as urban agriculture. In this sense people in social sciences, urban studies, environmental studies, architecture and urban planning will find this book very useful. This is an exceptional international, interdisciplinary, expert dream team. Many of these authors have already been recognized as key contributors to this literature. However, the way the book is designed — as a conversation among a group of scholars, thinkers, authors — allows fresh new insights and adds vibrancy to this volume. It is not a simple how to do UA book. It is a thoughtful book about re-imagining urban living, urban livelihoods, urban culture through urban agriculture. This is a fun book. If I would keep a few books on urban agriculture in my personal library this is definitely one of them. It is the outcome of a workshop and went through many edits and commentaries. It is ready to go. I would consider this as a key contribution to urban agriculture, urban design, planning and agricultural urbanism.

Hot off the Press: Social Innovation in Food Banks Report Now Available

After decades of front line, emergency food distribution, food banks are increasingly taking a critical look at their work. As chronic and persistent food insecurity continues to increase, many food banks are now looking to different, longer-term strategies which better focus on serving the long-term health, social justice and resilience of the individuals and communities they serve.title-page-only

To better understand the landscape of this work, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank contracted Urban Food Strategies to convene other food banks undertaking similar shifts in an exploratory research project. The report, ‘Social Innovation in Food Banks: An Environmental Scan of Social Innovation in Canadian and US Food Banks’includes candid interviews with 18 food organizations from across North America on their work, and presents a continuum of socially innovative practices in the sector.

We hope this report will help to continue to grow the food bank community of practice by supporting knowledge sharing and collective action.

This report will be the subject of a panel at Food Secure Canada’s ‘Resetting the Table’ conference in Toronto, ON, from October 13th – 16th, 2016.

To access the report, please click here

Kamloops Market Feasibility Study Launch

On April 13, 2016 our project team lead by Greenchain Consulting and including Sustainability Ventures, Urban Food Strategies, and TRU Consulting, publically launched a feasibility study for a food market in downtown Kamloops.  This project was convened by Community Futures Thompson County, Farm 2 Chef,  The Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition and the Kamloops Regional Farmers Market.

The recommended market moKamloops Market Conceptual Layout Final Apr 7-16del included permanent and temporary food vendors, cafe, brew pub, production/incubation kitchen, teaching and learning space, and outdoor market space. The project team used best practice research and input from stakeholders to develop a concept and high-level business plan that tested the initial feasibility of a food market.  Under a set of conditions, it was found that the market is indeed feasible and met all but one of the feasibility criteria.

For more information on this initiative and to access the report please visit Community Futures Thompson County

Drawings and illustrations shown here have been produced by Anne Marie Whittaker at Modus Planning and Design with direction from Janine de la Salle at Urban Food Strategies.

NEW- Community Food Systems Course 2016


Food isn’t just about what we eat. Eating is only one part of a vast and highly complex global system that grows, processes, packages, markets, and ultimately discards food. Regrettably, today’s industrial food system is failing not only our communities, but also our environment and our bodies. But there is an alternative recipe for food systems—a sustainable one—that promises to bring food and agriculture back into our communities so that they’re more vibrant, vital, and healthy for everyone. Drawing from leading literature and best practices from across North America, this course will explore the many dimensions of mobilizing community food systems including: food politics, food and farming in BC, urban agriculture and farming, regional food economies, food hubs, healthy built environments, food in design, public policy and food systems, food recovery and waste, transitions in food banking and the charitable food sector, food justice, food democracy and the right to food, food culture, and indigenous food systems.

SCD 410 E100, Summer 2016

May 9th to June 20th (Intersession)

Tuesdays and Thursday 5:30-9:20pm

Harbour Centre 2205, 515 West Hastings Street

Questions? Contact

TOP 10 Food System Strategies

Nothing Beets Healthy Communities.  Here is the Urban Food Strategies Top 10 list for healthy communities and prosperous regional food systems. 

  1. Bring healthy food closer to home: Many people in BC and Canada rely on emergency food sources on a regular basis, nearly one third of them being children.  By bringing food closer to home through a range of approaches from community kitchens and gardens to mobile fresh markets and walkable communities with affordable green grocers, healthy food becomes more accessible to a wider range of people.
  2. Design and build healthy environments:  Increasingly, evidence-based research is drawing linkages between food systems, the built environment and population health. Through integration of food system elements into the planning and design of our towns and cities, communities are able to achieve a wider range of physical, mental, and spiritual (or social) health benefits. Creating better access to fresh food sources begins with intentional design and programming of the built environment, enabling creation of space for food markets and celebrations, reserving lands for local food processing and distribution infrastructure, animating spaces and creating beauty in social housing, parks, and open spaces, and educating and training around food skills, all begin with the intentional design and programing of the built environment.
  3. Reskill communities in personal and professional food knowledge:  The knowledge and skill to prepare healthy food has eroded as the processed food industry has replaced the need to know how to work with raw ingredients.  As a result, children are growing up without knowing what raw vegetables look like or how they grow, not to mention being able to purchase and prepare healthy meals after they leave home. Through providing multiple opportunities to develop personal and professional food skills, people and businesses are better equipped to have a healthy diet.
  4. Safeguard food productive places: The areas and ecosystems that form foundation for all the food we eat is under increasing development pressure from cities and industrial uses, among others. The lands, forests, rivers, lakes, and oceans that sustain the global food system need to not only be protected but also restored to ensure a source of community health and economic prosperity into the future.
  5. Encourage urban agriculture and farming: The practice of growing food in and near towns and cities for community, personal, or commercial purposes has experienced a renaissance in 21st century North America and is a cornerstone of sustainable food system.  While urban agriculture and farming will never replace the need for rural agriculture, the aim is not simply to generate kilocalories per square foot, but to provide a learning ground for the next generation of gardeners and even farmers.  Urban agriculture not only brings fresh food closer to home but it also creates: social places where neighbours meet; education places where people can learn gardening and farming skills; and even small business opportunities for urban farmers. Because of these benefits, urban agriculture is widely recognized as a key strategy for healthy communities.
  6. Rebuild infrastructure for regional food systems: With the globalization of food systems, local infrastructure for processing, storage, and distribution has largely been centralized and in some cases outsourced internationally.  While these systems are critical for the large Canadian producers, they often are not regulated or tailored for medium to small-scale producers.  Similarly, marketing boards have done much for stabilizing prices for large producers but create challenges for medium to small-scale producers. Finding innovative strategies to rebuild regional capacity for agriculture joins up a region’s productive potential and capacities with regional markets.  Community food hubs and centres are a different kind of food infrastructure where people can go to learn, experience, and access healthy foods and food skills.
  7. Join-up regionally produced foods and with local purchasing: Many regions and provinces/states are importing the very products that they are growing and exporting.  By creating a joined-up regional food system, the prospect of reducing this redundancy and creating local opportunities for people and businesses is possible.  A thriving wholesale, retail, and consumer-direct local food purchasing industry puts dollars to work locally, increases livelihood potential for farmers and food producers, and ultimately generates more economic activity around regional food.
  8. Celebrate food culture & promote regional distinctiveness of food systems: Every productive region is unique in its biophysical attributes, specialty products, skillsets, and diversity of farm businesses. Many communities have annual gatherings to celebrate garlic, asparagus, and rutabaga, among others. These distinct food cultures draw visitors and help to create an overall identity for the region that contributes to community pride.  Food culture also creates experiences that are important to livability – as seen with destinations woven throughout neighbourhoods, such as patios, food trucks, farmers markets, green grocers and more.
  9. Capture the value of food waste:  The amount of food that is wasted pre- and post- consumer is shocking.  Consider the amount of embodied water, energy, and fuel that is also associated with this waste. A conservative estimate is that over 50% of produce is wasted pre and post consumer; some estimates are closer to 75%.  Wastage on grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, and protein are less, but still significant.  Much of the food that is wasted is perfectly edible and is composted or brought to the landfill instead of being returned to the food stream.  Innovative community initiatives and businesses turn this waste into a resource and are able to remove large volumes of produce from the waste stream to generate affordable food options or a competitive advantage for businesses, respectively.
  10. Foster implementation partners and build capacity for action: Establishing an organization’s visions, goals, policies, designs, and actions for food systems creates a platform that enables partnerships for the successful implementation and monitoring of food system activities.  Further, a vision is only as innovative as it is implementable: too often we treated a completed plan as the end of a process, when in fact it is the beginning. For example, to realize a vision to establish a community farm, the future lead farmers – or “implementers” – need to be involved in the planning at the outset. We need to leverage community-planning efforts to create implementation capacity through process, involving implementation partners early on.

Healthy Built Environment Toolkit Released

The Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit is a groundbreaking evidence-based and expert-informed resource that links planning principles to health outcomes. Urban Food Strategies, among other leading provincial experts on the healthy built environment (HBE), contributed to its development.  The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) released the Toolkit in April 2014.

The HBE Toolkit can be downloaded at:

Urban Food Strategies in the News

Farming is vital to the health of cities, UBCM delegates told


Cities owe their existence to agriculture.

But cities started separating from farming in the last few hundred years and now planners Rob Buchan and Janine de la Salle think it’s time to bring local food systems into better harmony with our urban environment.

That was the message they presented in a clinic Tuesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention.

Buchan, now the chief administrative officer of the District of North Saanich on Vancouver Island, is doing a PhD, examining how local government can support local food systems. De la Salle is the principal of Urban Food Strategies.

Neither is a farmer. But they both think farming, particularly growing things locally, is vital to the health of our cities.

Industrial farming has taken over production of most of our food, but Buchan wonders what would happen if that flow of food stopped.

“Grocery stores keep about 72 hours of supplies,” said Buchan, who pointed out that Vancouver Island used to produce 50 per cent of its own food but now accounts for just five per cent.

Buchan isn’t advocating tearing up streets to plant crops, but he thinks cities, towns and regional districts can support agriculture that, in turn, can support communities.

“We have lots of development where we make people plant landscaping, ornamental landscaping,” he said.

“What if those were productive landscapes?” said Buchan, suggesting fruit and nut trees — much like what is being done in Vancouver parks as part of the Greenest City initiative.

North Saanich has converted a yard-sized space on city hall land into a compact orchard that is expected to produce 1,300 to 1,400 kilograms of fruit annually.

And it amended a bylaw to make it easier for backyard farmers to sell their produce, expanding where beekeepers could set up hives to pollinate crops and changing rules over farm signage — making it easier for people to find farms where they can buy produce.

“We’re getting out of the way of local farming,” explained Buchan.

Supporting local food systems doesn’t mean consumers will suffer, said de la Salle.

“They can still have their mangos and coffee, too,” she said. “It’s just about re-orienting some of our purchasing power to the local products we do have.

“Why can’t you buy B.C. apples in the grocery store right now?” said de la Salle. “Some stores you go into and it will be Washington and New Zealand apples, and this is apple season. That just drives me crazy!”

Victoria councillor Chris Coleman was at the clinic put on by Buchan and de la Salle and is also concerned about food sustainability.

“How do you follow the 100-Mile Diet if you stop all that agriculture?” Coleman said.

Change is coming in Victoria, too.

Coleman said the city is experimenting with replacing boulevard trees in its Oaklands neighborhood with fruit and nut trees. Residents get a tax rebate to look after the trees and a non-profit group helps with the harvest, sending the excess fruit to food banks.

Original article can be found on-line at:

Publication: Local Food Economies

EPSON MFP imageLocal food economies are one of the areas of greatest untapped potential for local governments.  In an article by Janine de la Salle, David Van Seters and Jeanette Southwood  the topic of how local food enterprises are inspiring examples of a new generation of jobs and economic prosperity that communities can capitalize on and nurture is explored. behas been published in the fall edition of Municipal world (Vol 123, no 9).