The NFU-O’s Local Food Advocate Network brings together both professionals and community members who understand that local food can help us educate young people, improve health, and give us a deeper connection to nature.
In 2017-2018, with support from the Greenbelt Fund and the National Farmers Foundation, we brought together Local Food Advocates at events across Ontario. Together we shared ideas and success stories.
Our Advocates have achieved remarkable things in many fields. One Advocate brought local food into the cafeteria of her hospital; another started a community garden on hospital grounds to improve the mental health of patients and community members.
Other Advocates grew food at schools and engaged students with the curriculum through a lens of food and farming. Artists drew inspiration from the land and brought that sense of connection to others through paintings, music, ceramics, and photography.
Often whole communities were involved—like churches that hosted community gardens and farmers markets.
Together, we have the power to build a stronger and more sustainable food system in Ontario.
Many of us are connected to communities or professions that have special influence over the decisions made by eaters and institutions. Our Local Food Advocates Network has helped to organize those people.
We can have an impact. Teachers and educators influence large numbers of young people and help set life-long habits. Healthcare professionals, including nurses and physicians, are respected authorities on diet and can also have considerable influence on institutions. Writers, artists, musicians, and performers can build an emotional connection with a broad audience. And active members of faith communities, for whom community and respect for creation are important values, and who can influence large numbers of people and institutions.
By working together, we can support local food and help make our communities healthier, fairer, and more connected. And we can help local farmers to thrive while protecting biodiversity and the climate.
Working with our network, we’ve created 20 new resources—from postcards to classroom guides to videos—that would help advocates in different fields.
We also created a Local Food Advocate hub on our website to help you connect with advocates in your field and in other areas.
- Thinking Outside the Lunch Box
- Questions to ask at the farmers’ market
- How to become a farmer (for students)
- Considerations when starting a hospital garden – 2 videos with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Centre
- Art Postcards (3 from community, two in collab with Black Creek Community Food Justice Network)
- Local Food Recipes for the Holidays
- Reflections from a Scholar-Activist
- Environmental Benefits of Local Food
- Top 3 ways to bring food and farm issues into the classroom (podcast)
- Videos: Why We Need Local Food Advocates (plus others)
The Ontario Local Food Advocate Influencer Network is supported by the Government of Ontario, in partnership with the Greenbelt Fund, and the National Farmers Foundation. The Greenbelt Fund supports many local food projects and programs in Ontario, including Ontariofresh.ca, an online marketplace for connecting local food producers and buyers.