Turning Priorities into Actions: Strengthening BC’s Local Food Systems

speaker talking at a panel event

Finding Common Ground 2016 Summit.

A sustainable food system is one that looks at the big picture: production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food, and waste diversion. BC communities are facing challenges – such as climate change and development pressure on agricultural land – which affect food security.

In May 2016, 59 participants from all parts of BC’s agrifood sector gathered for the Finding Common Ground 2016 Summit, hosted by REFBC and the Sustainable Food Systems Working Group (SFSWG) in Vancouver. At the two-day Summit, participants shared their knowledge and created action plans around three focus areas:

  • Increasing production through protecting and increasing access to agricultural land.
  • Training and support for new entrants.
  • Building domestic markets through institutional procurement and local value chains.

round table discussionIn designing the Summit, planning committee members identified five outcomes for 2018 that support the SFSWG’s three focus areas. Each of these outcomes is matched to one of the Province’s 2020 targets, which are described in the BC Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan. The 2018 outcomes are:

  1. The provincial government, local governments and other agencies are working together to encourage land use planning, assessment regulations and bylaws that support increased production on agricultural land.
  2. Together, academia, NGOs, industry and government offer (and communicate about) education, training and extension opportunities that support new entrants.
  3. New entrants have support to access the land and financing needed for a successful business.
  4. A suite of services supports local producers of fresh and processed food to get their products to the domestic market.
  5. Selected public sector institutions have begun pilot projects to implement and measure buy-local food purchasing policies.

Using these outcomes as a guide, Summit participants developed five action plans to strengthen BC’s local food system. To support these plans, participants shared ideas for building action teams, increasing capacity and supporting implementation, and building an active, engaged community of food sector leaders.

The action plans, as well as a summary of Summit activities, are available in the Finding Common Ground 2016 Summit Report.