Many community leaders, food activists, producers, committed eaters, and visionaries are interested in providing healthy food for families in our community. What happens when you gather these people together? You end up with great conversations, an appreciation of the many amazing things already happening, and the energy to collaborate together.
On March 12 & 13 Growing Food Security in Alberta, together with a local hosting team, brought together over 30 people from Lacombe county and surrounding areas to connect to building a common vision for the food system we want to build in Lacombe, to identify and map initiatives and assets that already exist in the city and county of Lacombe, and to establish actions for collaboration.
Participants also had the opportunity to tour the brand new Lacombe Composite High School's geodesic dome greenhouse complete with 4-season "climate battery" technology - the only project of its kind in Canada!
This workshop was the result of a year long research project that Growing Food Security in Alberta carried out over 2011-2012 in central Alberta.
The workshop started out exploring the topics of food security, food sovereignty, and sustainable and equitable solutions for a local based food system. Participants talked about what's important about food to them and how we can achieve those objectives within Lacombe County.
The group then worked on building a long term vision of what a community-based food system could look like, building off of the assets and strengths already existing. As the City of Lacombe is currently working on their municipal sustainability plan together as part of their “Imagine Lacombe” process – participants were invited to submit their thoughts and comments via the City's survey to include ideas and direction from this workshop in that plan.
The final part of the workshop was mapping actions that the group can take, together. Some of these actions will take time to build and some of these actions can be taken right away.
Key discussion topics were:
Education – teaching students about agriculture and growing food, possibly by bringing producers in to meet students and getting students out to farms. There is also the opportunity to leverage on the EcoVision Club at LCHS and expand into programs like City Slickers where students go out and tour a farm during harvest season and Little Green Thumbs where students grow plants in "Earth Boxes".
Expanding community gardens and getting people participating in the food system: gardening, preserving and home processing, bringing back knowledge and skills that have been lost
Developing increased storage and distribution at a community level, via collaboration between producers and organisations in order to build the capacity to store local products over the seasons
As part of the workshop, there was a Lacombe County map on the wall with some initial contacts and organisations mapped onto it. During the time together, we kept adding to the list of farms, retailers, people involved and related to building a stronger local food system. Every time we meet we discover new people and more wealth in our community.
The group has decided to keep working together under the name “Field to Table Lacombe” with the purpose of building a system that brings locally grown, healthy food to the tables of all area residents. The group recognized the value of connecting regularly in order to keep finding ways to support each other to build a local food system. They have decided to take advantage of the monthly Backyard Friends Suppers happening every 3rd Wednesday at the Lacombe Memorial Centre, and will meet up after each supper.
- Susan Crump (scrump (at) albertahighspeed.net),
- Donnie Tafts (dtafts (at) lacombefcss.net),
- Steve Schultz (sschultz (at) wolfcreek.ab.ca), and
- Ross Smillie (st_andy (at) telusplanet.net)
or drop by the Backyard Friends Supper and join the group afterwards
Special thanks to the Lacombe County for financial support; to St. Andrew's United Church for providing our venue; to Peg & Tom of Anna Maria's Cafe, and to the food producers who contributed food for our lunches.