The first of many recommendations in fresh: Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy was the creation of the Edmonton Food Council:
18.104.22.168: Establish the Edmonton Food Council (EFC) by June 1, 2013
fresh also stipulated the creation of resources within City of Edmonton administration to support a Food Council:
22.214.171.124: Provide appropriate supporting resources to the EFC, which might include:
i) At least one full-time staff position to support the EFC.
ii) An operating budget and clerical support for the meetings. (p. 28, fresh)
City Administration acted upon this recommendation in the summer of 2013, recruiting 15 volunteer members to the Council, which held monthly meetings from September to July.
Under the direction of strategy consultant Beth Sanders and the City of Edmonton’s Hani Quan, the Council explored how they would operate in their role as a committee of Administration. Terms of Reference were developed and updated several times to reflect the evolution of the Council’s mandate. Working groups were formed to explore initiatives in land use and data sharing, and a governance committee was established.
Summary of Achievements
New work plan development
The EFC held a members retreat in the fall of 2018 to develop a new work plan and strategic direction for the next year. The 2018-9 work plan includes four key areas:
- Develop and publish recommendations on local food policies.
- Engage with Edmonton City Councillors and the Mayor.
- Host an unconference event with the local food community.
- Develop and host quarterly meetings with a local food community of practice.
National Food Policy
Over the fall and summer of 2017, the EFC worked with several other groups in the city to provide in put on a Food Policy for Canada, a new national food policy. The EFC met one-on-one with Edmonton’s local Members of Parliament to discuss food and food policy and hosted a public engagement session on September 13, 2017: “What’s Your Recipe for a Better Food System?” The event was held in order to provide Edmontonians a way to give input to Food Secure Canada’s national report, as well as direct input to the Government of Canada.
Over 60 participants participated in three hours of round-table discussions focused on the questions posed by the Federal Government regarding this developing policy. Attendees included representatives from food production, distribution, policy, waste recovery, and the emergency food sector, as well as members of the general public.
After the consultation event, host organizations compiled a report which was submitted to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, and staff at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. See here for more details.
Edible fruit trees map
The edible fruit tree map is part of a larger food asset mapping project underway by the EFC. The map features an inventory of publicly accessible fruit trees in the City of Edmonton’s inventory. The data set is pulled from the City of Edmonton’s open-data catalogue. The full inventory of Edmonton’s trees, including non-fruit bearing plants, can be found here.
Fresh MEAET micro-fundraiser
The EFC, in collaboration with Edmonton’s NextGen, hosted a micro-fundraising event called Fresh MEAET on July 11, 2017. 120 people attended and heard pitches from seven different food initiatives in Edmonton, and then voted on their favourite. The winner was Food4Good, a local agency providing food security services in Edmonton’s west-end with the goal of building a permanent community food centre in Jasper Place. Food4Good won $1700 to put towards their food hub: $1200 from the ticket price and an additional $500 donated by ATB Financial.
Small markets and vendors – presentation to City Council
The EFC delivered a presentation to City Council in response to a report by City Administration that reviewed the regulatory framework for small markets and vendors. This includes farmers’ markets, public markets and their vendors. The Food Council supports this review as there are a number regulatory barriers impeding the development and growth of small food-based businesses in the city. The presentation reaffirmed the EFC’s position on the matter and ensured that Administration will continue to consult with us throughout the review process.
Let’s Talk Food regional mayors’ forum
The EFC hosted Let’s Talk Food on February 3, 2017, a panel forum with several regional mayors including Don Iveson (Edmonton), Lisa Holmes (Morinville), Billy Morin (Enoch Cree Nation), and Tom Flynn (Sturgeon County). The mayors discussed various local food and agricultural issues and took questions from the audience. Over 330 people attended the event, which was also catered by several local Edmonton restaurants, food and drink producers. The forum was the kickoff to the Cultivating Connections: Alberta Regional Food Systems Forum.
First annual local food survey
The EFC released its first annual survey on local food in spring 2016. The results were interpreted and analyzed by Sara Awatta, a University of Alberta student working with U of A professor and EFC alumni Dr. Brent Swallow. The survey was sent out again in spring 2017 and spring 2018 and results are posted on the City’s Open Data Catalogue. The EFC hopes to continue collecting and anayzing this data for future food policy work.
World Food Day film screening
The EFC’s hosted its first large event on October 16, 2016 – a film screening in celebration of World Food Day. The film was followed by a Q&A session with two local food producers. The goal of the event was to connect organizations in the local food community with the public. Attendees raised $177.50 and 85 kilograms of food donations for the Edmonton Food Bank.
Advisory role – urban bees and hens
The EFC served in an advisory capacity to City Administration on emerging food and urban agriculture issues. The Council provided advice on the Municipal Government Act, as well as feedback to the Zoning Bylaw Implementation Unit. In 2014, the Co-Chairs advocated for a role on the high-profile issues of urban bees and hens, but the momentum and pace of the hens and bees projects did not provide an appropriate opportunity for the EFC to be involved. This highlighted an opportunity for improvement in the way the Council and City Administration communicate and work together.
Meetings with City Councillors and the Mayor
Co-Chairs for the Food Council met with the Mayor and Councillors to introduce the EFC and seek input on its role and function. The comments by City Council encouraged communication and consensus and led to the Food Council hosting a forum on the topic of community gardens.
Community gardens forum
The majority of City Councilors said that they wanted to hear from citizens about the community gardens process. Five panelists spoke at the EFC’s first community forum, and more than 50 interested Edmontonians participated in the successful discussion.
In order to communicate its goals and vision the EFC required its own website. The visual identity and website were developed in the latter half of 2014. It acts as a portal for public engagement on food and agriculture issues, a recruitment tool for new members, and puts a human face on the EFC.