Food Systems

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Identifying Opportunities to Increase Food Production and Improve Food Security

The Food Systems project identified opportunities to increase food production in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region in an environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable way. Research focused primarily on areas where the RDI could provide information to food system actors to help improve the food production, processing, distribution and retail sectors. These opportunities were identified based on a review of the three recently completed Agriculture Plans from the Regional Districts of Kootenay Boundary, Central Kootenay and East Kootenay, and through consultations with a project advisory committee consisting of agricultural stakeholders from across the region.

Research Rationale & Target User Groups

There is a growing interest in agriculture and food security in the region, with the RDKB, RDCK and RDEK all recently completing Agriculture Plans. There is also considerable recent research both within our region and elsewhere on agriculture issues, which tend to either focus on challenges or provide general options for opportunities, however none cover the Columbia Basin-Boundary on a regional scale. Results from this project will help build the capacity of key stakeholders and decision-makers from across the region to make informed decisions related to regional food systems and related land use planning.

Guiding Research Questions

  1. What assets and gaps exist in the regions’ food systems landscape?
  2. What are the opportunities to better utilize agricultural lands?
  3. What specific opportunities exist to improve the regions’ food system?

Key Activities and Timelines

The project ran from fall 2014 to spring 2016 and research is now complete. Key research products are described and linked below.

Research Brief: Identifying and Valuing Underutilized Agricultural Land

This report summarizes results from efforts to evaluate the extent of land in the Basin-Boundary region with potential for agricultural expansion. Two methodologies were employed for this analysis—one based on property information and one based on remotely sensed data (conducted in partnership with the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre). The report also includes an assessment of the monetary value of underutilized agricultural lands.

Inventory of Regional Resources for Food System Planning and Action

This inventory includes over 40 resources produced by organizations and individuals in the Basin-Boundary region. It serves as an introduction to the state of efforts in the regional food movement, and helps readers understand the key players involved.

Research Brief: Innovation in the Basin-Boundary Beef Supply Chain

This report will summarize results from a study focused on characterizing innovation among Columbia Basin-Boundary beef producers and the organizations they interact with along the supply chain. The study was undertaken with the goal of better understanding the factors that influence this sector’s ability to innovate, as well as the impact innovation has on the success of beef businesses.

Research Brief: Innovative Solutions to Basin-Boundary Food System Challenges

This report provides an overview of several innovative solutions which have potential to help address identified challenges to expanding food production in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. The study highlights models that have already been implemented on a smaller scale within the region that could be duplicated or expanded, as well as examples from outside the region. Innovative solutions are broken into three categories: supply, processing, and ownership and land access.

Research Brief: Agricultural Climate: Conditions and Trends

This report summarizes research into climatic factors influencing the agricultural potential of the Basin-Boundary region. Drawing on a capability classification system developed by the BC government in the 1980s, the report provides an updated analysis of conditions and trends related to key agricultural climate variables such as climatic moisture deficit, growing degree days and frost free period.

Knowledge Brief: Agriculture Planning

This report summarizes common themes in the agricultural plans prepared for the Kootenay Boundary, Central Kootenay and East Kootenay Regional Districts. It serves as an introduction to regional agricultural opportunities, challenges and priorities. This report is also summarized in a short video.

Webinar: Advancing the Basin-Boundary Regional Food System

This webinar marked the end of the Food Systems project and featured speakers from the RDI and other organizations involved in advancing food-related research, planning and action in the region. A recording of the webinar is available for viewing, as are copies of the presentations. For Lauren Rethoret’s presentation on project results (with a focus on innovative approaches to expanding food production) click here. For Rachael Roussin’s presentation on the characteristics of agricultural land in the West Kootenay, click here. For Brent Mansfield’s presentation on collaborative approaches to food policy advancement, click here.

Additional Resources: a background paper entitled Agriculture in the Columbia Basin produced for the Columbia Basin Trust can be found here.

The Columbia Basin-Boundary Food Systems project received financial support from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

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