A new report by Ontario researchers—including two from Lakehead University—documents how farmers’ markets, co-ops and other sustainable food systems strengthen the economic, environmental and social health of local communities.

Lakehead University’s Dr. Mirella Stroink and Dr. Connie Nelson led a process that included interviews and in-depth consultations with representatives of more than 40 local food initiatives across Northern Ontario. Dr. Stroink, an associate professor in Psychology, and Dr. Nelson, an associate professor in Social Work, are participants in Lakehead University’s Food Security Research Network. Their report – called Models and Best Practices for Building Sustainable Food Systems in Ontario and Beyond – provides many insights into how farmers are connecting more directly with consumers in Northern Ontario.

“These Northern local food initiatives are inspiring for their creativity and resourcefulness. They are meeting the growing demand for local food in the face of challenges such as limited funding, a policy environment favouring the industrial food system, and the vast distances among communities in the North,” Dr. Stroink said. Dr. Nelson added, “Our findings suggest that next steps include moving toward sustainability by enhancing local food processing, storage and market distribution for these emerging local food initiatives.”

The report is available at nourishingontario.ca.