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.
Over the past number of years, Nova Scotians have been increasingly aware of the need for a fundamental and seismic shift required to turn the economic position of province around. In 2014, a report was commissioned by the province to explore the detrimental issues Nova Scotia has been facing and identify key areas of focus for improvement. The Now or Never report led by Ray Ivany, declared an urgent call to action to all Nova Scotians on the state of the Province and reported 19 goals for the province to consider to begin to change the bleak situation Nova Scotia is facing (ONE Nova Scotia, 2015). Barriers realizing these goals are many, however consensus and collaboration were cited as essentials in meeting the recommended goals.
GROW Nova Scotia is an example of a new way to collaborate and work together. It is a way to employ a Collective Impact Framework (Collective Impact Forum, 2017) to bring stakeholders across the food system together to discuss barriers to success and goals to achieve moving forward together.
Step one, in this two-part project will be the development of a “planning document”, called GROW Nova Scotia, designed to align business activities in the local food system with government policies and recommendations for improvement. It will be inclusive and incorporate input from all sectors in the industry including education and research. The ultimate intention is to foster an environment of collaboration and openness to overcome obstacles experienced by players in the food system and throughout the food system. Stakeholders will work together in the development of a vigorous, healthy, sustainable food system in Nova Scotia that is an economic driver for the Province with Agri-Futures NS as the backbone of this structure.
Step two will be the development of network using the Collective Impact framework (Kania, 2011) that has been successfully implemented in many social science and community driven projects. The creation of the network and financial support for the implementation of the plan is the life force of the GROW Nova Scotia project.
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.
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.