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Mobilizing Members in Support of BC’s Food Security

BCFSN members at the 2014 Annual Gathering

BCFSN members at the 2014 Annual Gathering

Tides Canada’s newest project is working towards a healthy and just food system for British Columbia

Did you know that between July 2013 and 2014, produce prices in British Columbia increased between six and 10 per cent?

This statistic is among the findings of a recent report that explores the sustainability of BC’s food system in the wake of persistent droughts in California, a key source of fruit and vegetable imports for BC. The report titled Wake-Up Call: California Drought & BC’s Food Security was commissioned by Vancity Credit Union and written by food systems expert Brent Mansfield. Mansfield is also the director of Tides Canada’s newest project, BC Food Systems Network (BCFSN).

In the Wake-Up Call report, Mansfield underlined the importance of a resilient and secure food system for British Columbia – one that ensures access to affordable, healthy food – in the midst of global challenges such as climate change. For this to happen, more must be done to support a local food system that increases food self-reliance. “More energy needs to be given to initiatives, both public and private, that work to increase local production, support new farmers accessing land, and transition under-utilized parcels of zoned agriculture lands into active production,” said Mansfield.

As head of a network that links people from across BC who are involved in community-level action related to food, Mansfield has a vested interest in establishing a more sustainable local food system and becoming more self-reliant on local food. For BCFSN, and its 300-plus members of farmers, health practitioners, educators, and consumers, it starts with the belief that a community enjoys food security when all people, at all times, have access to nutritious, safe, personally-acceptable and culturally-appropriate foods, produced in ways that are environmentally sound and socially just. Through its members, the BCFSN is supporting the local food system efforts of farmers, ranchers, fishers and Indigenous harvesters in 60 communities across the province.

As a Tides Canada project, BCFSN is working towards a healthy and just food system by mobilizing the knowledge of community-based issues, and solutions of members and broad partners to influence policy and practice. “We are also excited to make connections with other Tides Canada projects, including Sustain Ontario, with whom we already have strong relationships,” said Mansfield.

Among BCFSN’s upcoming initiatives is a three-year project called Good Food Solutions for BC, which will capture, share, and support implementation and scaling of innovative food sustainability practices and policy.

To learn more about BC Food Systems Network, click here or follow this project on Twitter @BCFSN.

Community stories share local food successes in northern Manitoba

928 kilometres north of Winnipeg, Manitoba lies Barren Lands First Nation and Brochet. Facing high food costs, the community of just over 600 people expanded on an already existing interest in gardening by building a 14 x 20-foot greenhouse in 2013 in coordination with their local health centre and the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture, and Community Collaborative (NMFCCC). This is only one of many inspiring examples from the NMFCCC 2016 Community Stories booklet, which shares learnings from 18 communities.

Why freshwater matters: Our Living Waters and MEC

Our Living Waters (OLW) is a national water network that recognizes that achieving freshwater conservation requires the organization and alignment of diverse groups addressing freshwater issues. Outdoor retailer MEC is one organization deeply involved with OLW. We interviewed Meriko Kubota, MEC’s Director, Strategic Partnerships and Community Investment, to find out why freshwater is important in Canada and to MEC and its members.