GROW Nova Scotia is a new project created by Agri-Futures NS that will begin by creating a plan for agricultural economic development to strengthen our local food system and stimulate economic development in Nova Scotia’s farm and food sectors.

The plan will provide a roadmap to create jobs in the farm, fishing, and food economy, improve access to healthy local foods, and expand local and regional markets for Nova Scotia products.

A key component of GROW NS is to identify infrastructure investments and public policy recommendations which will support new and existing agricultural enterprises to increase local resiliency in today’s changing economic and global times. The primary deliverable for this project will be a comprehensive 10-year Plan for Agricultural Economic Development in Nova Scotia which will contain the following components:

Baseline Conditions, Environmental Scan, Trends

  • An inventory of Nova Scotia’s food system infrastructure by gathering existing data, studies, and analysis;
  • In-depth research to identify gaps in the infrastructure and distribution systems and ways to address these gaps – e.g. food aggregation facilities, light processing, storage and new distribution models;
  • In-depth research to identify opportunities for increasing food security, food sovereignty, and local food access for Nova Scotian’s;
  • Identification the organizations and programs which serve the farm and food sector in Nova Scotia.

Blueprint for the Next 10 Years:

  • Goals, objectives, and strategies for strengthening Nova Scotia’s farm, fishing and food system over the next ten years;
  • A prioritized list of investments which, if made, would help implement goals and strengthen NS’s food system over the next 10 years;
  • A list of policy changes needed to support the growth and development of Nova Scotia’s food system over the next 10 years;
  • Suggestions for how to improve coordination and collaboration among stakeholder organizations;
  • GIS based maps that visually depict basic demographic, land, infrastructure and related resource data, and the opportunities for infrastructure investment;
  • A local food expansion plan (i.e. identify ways to further expand the availability of locally produced, affordable food).

Potential Impacts of Implementing This Plan and How to Measure Progress Over Time

  • An economic impact analysis of the anticipated increase in the number of jobs, revenue, net farm income and change in GDP that would result from fully implementing the plan;
  • A plan for how GROW NS will be monitored and evaluated over time, including indicators and other metrics and identification of organizations that will be responsible for the on-going monitoring and evaluation.
  • An innovative approach to help in any restructuring required within the food system in Nova Scotia for the next 10 years and beyond.

GROW Nova Scotia’s Guiding Values

Fairness– We strive to build a food system in NS where fairness exists among suppliers, producers, processors, retailers, and consumers.

Equity– We strive to build a food system that promotes dignity, fair working conditions, and access to healthy food.

Sustainability– The food system in NS must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the next seven generations to meet their own needs- ecologically, financially, and socially.

Collaboration– We know that when people, organizations, and governments work together, more can be accomplished. We will work across and within the Nova Scotia food system to build a positive, collective impact.

Shared Benefits– We create viable solutions guided by real, measurable results for the Nova Scotia food system.


Defining Local

Interest in “local” food has grown dramatically over the last number of years. Public interest in buying local food is motivated by many things: food safety, supporting the local economy and local farmers, freshness and taste, and minimizing the use of fossil fuels in food transport. There are many definitions of “local” influenced by measuring food miles traveled or food produced within a province. Select Nova Scotia, a program developed by the Province of Nova Scotia to encourage Nova Scotians to shop and buy locally, defines local as produced in Nova Scotia.  The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture also defines local as produced in Nova Scotia.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency defines local as:

  • food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or
  • food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory

The CFIA recognizes that this is a broad interpretation of the current policy and there are a variety of views on how the term “local” should be defined. It is also important to note that in the “Buy Local Challenge” project conducted in 2008, by the Women’s Institute of Nova Scotia, 75% of survey respondents felt that food produced in the Maritimes (Ns, NB, PEI) was considered to be local. Consumers vary in their own response to what is considered to be “local” food. This is will be explored further in the food system plan.

What is a Food System?

A food system includes all processes involved in feeding a population including growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming and disposing of food and food related items, right back to nourishing the soil and protecting the water we use to grow food. The food system also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each of these steps. A food system operates within, and is influenced by, social, political, economic and environmental contexts. It also requires human resources that provide labor, research and education.