Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SELRS in Brief

Despite an unfortunate acronym, this is a great project.

SELRS in Brief

Building a Sustainable Equitable Local Regional System for Food (S.E.L.R.S.) - Alberta

THE SITUATION: Alberta has a long-standing farming and agricultural tradition which has provided a foundation for its current infrastructure and resources. But there is growing awareness that as a society we are losing knowledge about food, our connections to local food, and the knowledge of retired farmers, homemakers and of First Nations peoples. Currently, the food system is driven by a global market and in large part by multinational corporations. There are real concerns about the effects of this industrial model on the environment and therefore the sustainability and viability of the way we get our food. This situation has Albertans talking about a desire to find solutions that focus on the local and regional level “Made in Alberta” solutions - to access healthy food, to rebuild relationships with food providers, and to create a system that is sustainable, equitable, environmentally sound and economically viable.

THE SOLUTION – TAKING THE NEXT STEPS, TOGETHER: This project aims to build relationships and systematically map the food-related assets in the central Alberta region to inform a S.E.L.R.S. framework, and formulate plans for the implementation of viable regional food systems that span from production to procurement, processing, distribution, safety and consumption. The formation of a regional food system is an innovative approach to food access. It means the communities will tap into and capitalize on their regional food resources. It will be a true picture of partnerships and collaboration - learning together about what can be grown in a region, how to grow it and how much can be produced sustainably, as well as how to prepare and store what is harvested.

Albertans want to get back to the basics of growing, cooking, preserving and storing food but it is critical that a two-tiered food system is not created: one for the 'haves' and another for the 'have nots'. We need equitable and regional food systems where all Albertans are food secure, are able to have healthy local/regional food and have connections and therefore choice and control over their food. The outlook is very promising here in Alberta. We do not need to start over; we can build on the knowledge and initiatives that already exist.

This project will open doors for established and new local businesses to be a part of the regional food picture and ultimately a regional food system either as a grower, a food warehouse/storage depot, a food transporter, seller, distributor or eater.


The Project Support Team will find and connect the resources that can produce food and ensure it is managed in environmentally and socially sound ways that nurture economic and social well being. An asset-based community development approach will ensure the system is equitable, where everyone is part of the creative process and will benefit from the outcomes. By March 2013 the Team will ensure the following deliverables for the project:

1. A facilitated and documented Asset Mapping, Relationship-building Process across the region:


identifying, connecting and engaging people, groups, eaters, growers/producers, businesses and others within the central Alberta region who are interested in food and the food system.

2. An Environmental Scan of food system assets in the region which will include:


identification of i) food system assets in place, ii) food system assets that have potential, iii) food system gaps, and iv) recommendations for moving ahead with a S.E.L.R.S. framework, a S.E.L.R.S. implementation plan and a S.E.L.R.S. sustainability plan

3. Collaboration with a web designer/developer to create a publicly available interactive web-based database of the food system assets in the region – assets in place and those with potential

4. An evaluation - Working with the GFSA Evaluator assess this approach to developing a regional food system and the impact on rural food insecurity.

THE SUPPORT: The Project Support Team- A partnership of experienced members representing Growing Food Security in Alberta (GFSA), Dietitians of Canada (DC), Community Building Resources (CBR); 16 Community Building for Food Security rural Alberta communities; enthusiastic and talented Community Animator/s; a diverse Steering Committee of people from the food, energy and financial sectors; will guide this project.

Conatct Rene: selrs[at]foodsecurityalberta[dot]ca

Vermont Agriculture Land Access Database (LAD)

Vermont Agriculture Land Access Database (LAD)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LIFA #4 Sunday.26June11@7pm @Ironwood Stage & Grill, Inglewood

LIFA #4 Sunday.26June11@7pm @Ironwood Stage & Grill, Inglewood

LIFA Target #1 is Inglewood. We are beta testing our unique data collection process on the inner city community of Inglewood.

All citizens are invited to participate in the Citizen LIFA.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Letter to Office of the Mayor requesting supports for Citizen LIFA

Chima Nkemdirim
Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor

I was very pleased to receive your e-mail today and thank you for your interest in LIFA. As you may be aware, Paul Hughes requested funding from Ald Druh Farrell, which was unfortunately denied. As a result we do not have a budget for purchasing maps from the City or access to a printer/plotter. This is where we hope you may be able to help us, so that our objectives can still be reached by October 1, 2011.
The Calgary Food Policy Council initiated the Food Policy agenda for the City of Calgary in June 2008. On 08Feb11, a motion was made by Paul Hughes at the EAC to create a LIFA: Land Inventory Food Assessment for Calgary. This motion was passed unanimously. We note that the EAC has not met on the LIFA file since February 8th. As interested parties in a grassroots, citizen-driven movement who are aware of our stake in this project, we have continued the process to the point where we are ready to gather information about unused land. Our first area of study will be Inglewood. As the site of the first European settlement in the area, it is a fitting tribute to begin there and also somewhat ironical that this neighbourhood has so much unused land and yet so little in the way of local retail grocery outlets.
We want to build a sustainable local food system, for many reasons which at this point in time should be evident to everyone. The way to begin is with information about both all facets of Calgary’s local food system, from the land to the existing food infrastructure in our communities.
What we are looking for from the City of Calgary administration is access to the digital resources we need to complete this project:
• .dwg files of the more than 300 Land Use District maps, that would be most helpful.  I understand these would contain the legal survey fabric with street names, plan, block, lot numbers and boundary lines, easements and Utility ROWs
• One set of 11X17 plus one set of A1 or D size hard copies of these maps would also be very much appreciated
• .dwg files of the boundaries and names of neighhourhoods, to give more context to the above maps
• Water utilities such as hydrants and storm runoff catch basins
• Above and below grade electrical utilities
• Access to other key information would be appreciated, if possible. For example, can we please find out how many parcels of unused land the City currently has on record, and what is the total area in hectares of this land. It would be very helpful if I had a counterpart to contact with the city administration.
Our objective is to use Inglewood as the first test of our project, work out the bugs in the process in the month ahead and then expand to all the other neighbourhoods city wide immediately afterward. Currently we have the manpower necessary to begin. Our team will find out the information we need by taking along the four land use district maps to physically make site visits and use the Web to gather additional publically available information. At the same time we have begun to formulate plans as to how to reach the larger community, identify keen citizens in every neighbourhood. Not only do many hands make light work but we feel it is important for as many citizens as possible to become aware of their community’s vacant land, its potential and to become familiar with food policy issues. The data collected will be linked to the drawings I will be producing along with images of the sites under consideration. As such, the digital information the City would provide me with will be referenced in the background and as such not be changed in any way, shape or form.
LIFA takes the position that we are now facing long-term challenging weather, oil, fertilizer and agricultural commodity price hikes and even potential crop shortages. We are confident the city is equally concerned in ensuring that no one starves in Calgary for the lack of a robust food infrastructure.
I hope I have given you enough information to proceed with, and please contact me if you require further information. I can appreciate that the data contained in city maps are proprietary information and that there may be a need to strip out some of the data, both for security reasons and also to keep file sizes down. Any digital information I receive will remain only on my home office and I will not alter it in any way, but I will need to reference the graphical information into my own drawing environment. It is my hope that you will find enough value in the information gathered that we can share it with the city at the end of our project. We look forward to working together to build a sustainable local food system, meeting or exceeding imagine Calgary Food Targets & providing access to nutritious food for all Calgarians for many healthy, happy and prosperous years ahead. I look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible.

Janet Gratton
City Liason for LIFA

Monday, June 20, 2011

LIFA #4 Sunday @26June11 @7pm

LIFA Mtg & Interactive Session #4 Sunday @26June11 @7pm

Citizen & Social Media Driven Land Inventory Food Assessment

Nurturing Deep Local Knowledge Roots about our Food System

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LIFA #3 19June11 @7pm @Old Y

LIFA #3 19June11 @7pm @Old Y: Inglewood LIFA: The Info Gathering Campaign by Citizens
Interactive Info Session on the Citizen Driven LIFA

Previous LIFA meetings:
This is an Interactive Info Session on LIFA.
...LIFA #2-12May11 @1830 @6.30pm Thursday
"What to do with all that land?!"
The Old Y 101-223 12 Ave SW Calgary, AB T2R 0G9

If there is one upside to Calgary's urban sprawl it is the abundance of city (citizen) owned land that can be used for stuff... like growing food.

At LIFA #1 meeting we discussed the various elements of a Land Inventory and Food Assessment.
Calgary Food Organizations (Retail, Production, Distribution, Preparation, Assistance, etc)

In this meeting we will discuss the role of citizens, city admin and the provincial government.

We will also be addressing the potential uses for a LIFA. Calgary's first official Urban Spin Farmer, Sandy Aberdeen will be attending to share his experiences as he enters into his second growing season.

Calgarians are embarking on what is arguably the most important Local Food System related engagement process in the history of Calgary, a LIFA: Land Inventory & Food Assessment. Citizens are welcome to participate in this process.

You can also contact Paul Hughes for more deets: paul [at] paulin8 [dot] com