Urban Food Strategies is dedicated to creating healthier and more prosperous communities through reengineering regional food and agriculture systems.
Janine de la Salle, Principal and one of Canada’s leading professionals in the emerging field of planning and designing for food and agriculture, brings over 10 years of specialized experience to implementing a wide range of regional to neighbourhood scale projects. Urban Food Strategies works with interdisciplinary teams, large and small local governments, developers, non-profits, and universities to provide a wide-range of food and agriculture planning, design and engagement services. We also collaborate with a close group of urban designers, agrologists, landscape architects, architects, farmers, retailers, nonprofit groups, land economists and site planners to develop highly innovative but implementable concepts and detailed plans. Our service areas include:
Nothing Beets Healthy Communities. Here is the Urban Food Strategies Top 10 list for healthy communities and prosperous regional food systems.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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: http://www.phsa.ca/NR/rdonlyres/E952D4B0-D83B-494C-9DEF-6EFB37D9AA63/69547/LinkagesToolkitFINALApril8_2014_FULL5.pdf
In an article published by the New York Times March 12th, agriculture-oriented neighbourhood developments, or agrihoods, one 160 acre organic farm in Arizona gives developers something to think about.
Read the full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/dining/farm-to-table-living-takes-root.html?ref=dining&_r=1
Local 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).
In 2012, the City of Edmonton initiated and completed a process to develop a comprehensive food system plan for the city. Unlike any other food system strategy that has been developed in North America, the Edmonton plan was directly linked to growth management and new development planning that was occurring in the City. In addition, the plan looks at opportunities in all areas of the City and has five goal areas spanning economy and health to placemaking and environment. As a result of extensive public and stakeholder consultation, technical analysis, and leading-edge policy development, the City now has one of North
Americas leading food system strategies.
HB Lanarc Consultants, represented by Janine de la Salle and Rob Barrs, were the lead consultants working with the City on developing Fresh. The team developed background material and analysis, facilitated stakeholder discussions, and developed draft goals and policies.
Congratulations to the City of Edmonton for taking the road less travelled and providing a leadership example of what Canadian Cities can accomplish towards sustainable urban food systems.