See Events Page: April Flavours Tasting Feast on Monday,April 30th at 6 pm at Wheelock Hall, Acadia University and the Entrepreneurs' Showcase at 2 PM the same day
FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited Community Economic Development Fund (CEDIF) is Now Established The first offer raised $223,500 which is being invested in Nova Scotian Farms and Food Producers
SECURING FOOD FOR OUR HEALTHY FUTURE
FANS Vision: Healthy fields, farms, and food for the people and communities of Nova Scotia now and in the future.
FANS: Our mission is to educate ourselves and others with regard to local and global issues, to craft policies that will help provide solutions, and to advocate for food security and sovereignty within a "big picture" interconnected framework.
Local and global issues: the global economic and financial crisis, global and regional trade policies that have negative impacts on local agriculture, the impacts of global climate change and global warming on our capacity to produce food and thus on the need for shifts to Agricultural polices that are ecologically sustainable, the impacts of 'the end of cheap oil' on food security and agricultural policy especially the implications for fossil fuel derived inputs like gasoline for farm vehicles and fertilizers, and the impact of water scarcity linked to climate change and contamination.
Nova Scotia has a long and proud history of food. From early indigenous people to far-sailing traders to innovative farmers of the current day, land and sea have provided ample food and wealth. But now local and global events are putting at risk the security and sustainability of food here, as elsewhere. It is becoming increasingly important that we insure that we have food for the future.
Growing more of our own food in Nova Scotia will be good for people, the environment, and the economy.
Healthy fields, farms, food, people and communities for Nova Scotia now, and in the future.
Nova Scotians must have a secure food supply. Changing global, national, and local conditions are negatively affecting access to healthy, affordable, safe, and secure food. To ensure Healthy fields, farms, food, people and communities for Nova Scotia now, and in the future all Nova Scotians must have the opportunity to participate fully in the food system – in production and distribution and consumption of sufficient healthy food.
Therefore, we call on all Nova Scotians to support the development of the Nova Scotian Food Policy Council comprised of representatives as follows but not limited to: agriculture, health, human and social services, food related businesses and organizations, environment, education, economics, nutrition, transportation, agriculture commodity organizations, food distributors, local farmers markets, grocers, cooperatives, restaurants, schools, recipients of food and agricultural programs, consumers, consumer advocacy groups and non-profit community groups.
Wayne Roberts, Director of the Toronto Food Policy Council says “Because food touches so many aspects of our lives in so many ways, a government that does not have a comprehensive food policy cannot, by definition, have a comprehensive health policy, energy policy, job creation policy, environment policy, global warming policy, anti-poverty policy, immigration and settlement policy, trade policy, industrial policy or – last but not least – agricultural policy. When food is torn apart, with bits stored in silos of health, energy, environment, immigration, trade and agriculture departments, it becomes like the patient who is treated by doctors as a liver, pancreas, heart, spine, ear, nose and throat, not a whole person.”
The Nova Scotia Food Council will help insure that we have an economically, environmentally, socially responsive, and sustainable food system that year by year will provide increasing amounts of nutritious, safe, affordable, local food.
Eating only products grown in Atlantic Canada puts foodie to the test By NADINE FOWNES | Comfort Food
Wed. Sep 2 - 4:45 AM
‘IS THIS LOCAL? What about this? Where’s that from?" I’ve been driving the staff at my local grocery stores nuts with questions about where their food is grown. I feel it’s my civic duty.
You see, this Friday is the Eat Atlantic Challenge, and our province’s top farmer, Agriculture Minister John MacDonell, is asking Nova Scotians to pull out all the stops and eat only foods that have been produced close to home.
So, in training for this eat-local extravaganza, I’ve been trying even more than I usually do to make sure everything I put into my shopping cart has Nova Scotia roots. We live in an agricultural province, so you would think that meeting this challenge would be a piece of homemade cake, right?
Think again. It turns out that making an entire day’s worth of meals out of only locally produced foods is much harder than it looks.
Let me take you through a recent trial run:
Breakfast started off quite well. We had omelettes whipped up with eggs from Amherst, rosy-ripe tomatoes from the Valley and havarti from Port Williams. With a little fruit salad on the side made from local peaches, plums and blueberries, and a slice of toast slathered with Tatamagouche butter and homemade strawberry jam made by my hubby’s dear sister, we were feeling quite virtuous indeed.
Even our coffee, although the beans weren’t grown here, we declared "local enough" as the fair trade beans had been roasted in Wolfville.
For lunch, our treat of fish and chips at a restaurant was a semi-success. The haddock was caught off the South Shore but the fries were hand-cut from P.E.I. potatoes. Hmm. If two provinces are connected by a ferry, that counts, right? But what about the oil everything was fried in? Whoops. It definitely wasn’t local. Neither was the lemon wedge I squeezed over the top without thinking.
We did wet our whistles with a nice draft beer made in Halifax, so maybe we get loco-credits for that. For dinner, it was a nice, sunny day and we had barbecuing on the brain, specifically a couple of nice juicy steaks of Nova Scotia beef. But shopping for said beef at the two big grocery stores in our community was an adventure in frustration. Maybe you knew this, but I had no idea that none of the beef sold at Sobeys comes from Nova Scotia. None. Zip. Nada.
Down the road at the Superstore, the man at the meat counter told me they sometimes have Nova Scotia beef, but not today. Did he know when any might be coming in again? No.
There is local beef available at the Co-Op, but that’s quite a drive for us and it was getting close to suppertime. On to Plan B. Let’s try asking for pork chops.
Again, I’m told that some of the pork sold at each of the big grocers comes from Nova Scotia farms, but not on this day.
What about chicken? Well, some of it is local and some of it isn’t, I was told by the butchers at both stores.
No one could tell me which of the packages of cut-up chicken were Nova Scotian and which had been flown in from farther afield.
Just when I was about ready to give up, I was assured that the whole chickens were definitely all local. And at the Superstore, some of the whole birds are even free-range, which means they weren’t raised in little cages but got to run around in the yard a bit before becoming tonight’s supper.
Sold. Whole chicken it is. I don’t mind cutting up chicken, plus it was a few cents cheaper per kilogram than the already cut-up stuff in the Styrofoam trays.
Home we went to get cooking with our local chicken and a few Valley-grown ears of corn, tomatoes and zucchini, which were quite easy to find.
Dinner was delicious, and we felt quite proud that almost everything on the table was produced within driving distance of our home and that we had dropped a few dollars into some local farmers’ pockets and our own economy to boot.
But it should have been easier — way easier — given the number of farms we’re lucky enough to have in this beautiful province of ours.
The lesson? Buy local, not just this Friday, but as often as you can. Put some pressure on your grocery stores to stock foods from local farms. Be a polite pain in the butt if you have to. Ask questions when you shop, phone or write your grocer’s head office, pester your politicians.
Supper will taste so much better if you do.
Helpful example Vermont Agriculture and Economic Sustainability Policy (2009)
Vermont’s economy is relatively small in relation to its neighbors and our reliance on imports is understandably high. According to the Leaky Bucket Report that was done in 2000, we import more than $14 billion dollars in goods and services – in 1998 dollars. More than $2 billion of that is for food. Vermont also has, relative to its neighbors, some of the best grazing and tillable landscape in the Northeast. Efforts to strengthen our economy should therefore focus on one of our best assets, our working landscape. Today, switching just 10% of our food imports to locally grown and produced food would return $376 million to the state’s economy and create over 3,500 new jobs.
We are at a transformative moment in the history of American food. The values that have characterized the modern industrial commodity based food system are being replaced by a new ethic that values a more ecological, more community oriented food system. This consumer-driven change represents important new market opportunities for Vermont’s family farms and small businesses. In turn, these businesses will strengthen Vermont’s economy, be a natural safeguard to its environment, enrich our sense of place, and advance human health.
·preserves the landscape of Vermont
·creates jobs ·provides nutritious, safe and affordable food to eat ·reduces our energy needs and our carbon footprint Local agriculture also serves long-term sustainable economic development in Vermont ·building local resilience, self-reliance, and economic security ·accommodating environmental and social returns ·considering long term effects of investments ·keeping money in the community so it is available again for future investment VBSR recommends a range of state policy, financing, and educational initiatives to achieve these goals.
Action Needed Agriculture and Economic Development State Policy
·Direct more of our state economic development dollars into agriculture and food industries to support the transition to resilient local economy. ·Reduce regulatory barriers to small-scale food production (encourage local butchering and food processing, selling value-added produce, dairy products and meat to individuals and commercial establishments). ·Implement land use policies that foster preservation of prime agricultural lands and varied agricultural land uses closer to where people live. ·Promote and capitalize on the Vermont brand. ·Direct state and municipal purchasing to give a purchasing preference to local food (even if it costs more in the short term). ·Increase financial and technical support to facilitate food system coordination and efficiency (e.g. address infrastructure needs in a sustainable way that is place-based including coordinated food production, storage, processing, and distribution). ·Support place-based local food systems (e.g. Hardwick and other catalyst towns http://www.hardwickagriculture.org/ and Intervale http://www.intervale.org/). ·Develop a more comprehensive agricultural policy that is aligned with state economic development policy (e.g. invest in food processing centers, food enterprise centers, year round markets, on-line brokering).
·Create a “Vermont Food System Investment Corporation” to make strategic investments in our food systems. (Modeled on Vermont Energy Investment Corp., Housing Conservation Fund, or Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund). ·Develop and financially support state and local revolving loan funds targeted to local food system development including assisting Vermont farmers in transitioning from conventional production to organic and value-added organic production. ·Assist Regional Economic Development Corporations in packaging funds for local food enterprises. ·Increase micro-financing availability to finance food co-ops, Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA’s), farmer’s markets, farm-to-school programs, etc.
Education and Information: ·Document food system metrics. Centralize and document data and economic activity, and quantify in a systematic and clear way. ·Support town-planning process in elevating food enterprises---also assist regional planning and regional economic development authorities. ·Educate the general public, state agencies, entrepreneurs, communities, and legislators about the economic benefits of sustainable food systems.
Farming collapse and hopes for rebirth RALPH SURETTEChronicle Herald on November 29, 2008
THE QUESTION of food arises in an acute way when times go bad – its affordability for people suddenly in dire straits, and increased turmoil for the farm and the rural economy.
In Nova Scotia, as in Atlantic Canada generally, we import some 90 per cent of what we eat. Meanwhile, our farming sector continues to shrink. Meanwhile again, food prices in the supermarkets continue to rise while prices to the farmer don’t.
What’s wrong with this picture? Ninety per cent imports and a crashing farm sector in a place that was supplying perhaps three-quarters of its food a couple of generations ago tells us that something is badly out of whack.
First, the state of agriculture. It’s been a standard mantra for some 40 years that the farming sector is declining, but recent figures put out by the research group GPI Atlantic were a shocker. Net farm income has dropped by an average of 91 per cent in Nova Scotia since 1971, and in 2007 reached the lowest levels ever recorded. Expenses have been greater than income in four of the last six years. Total farm debt increased by 146 per cent in Nova Scotia between 1971 and 2006, and so on, in a dismal gallop through all the indicators. And those figures are from before the present troubles.
Laurence Nason, who retires as head of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture this very week, says he never believed until now "that the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia was actually in jeopardy." Leading the dreary list is the hog industry which has recently disappeared (pork comes mostly from the U.S. now), the cattle industry which went earlier, pea and bean processing, hay exports, and so on.
Of 2,600 full-time farmers, says Nason, some are "burning up two generations worth of equity" to keep going – so attached to the land that they will farm at a loss until it’s all gone.
The supply-managed part of the industry is doing well enough. If government price-setting was lifted, however, that too would likely go – milk, poultry, eggs would come from the U.S. where costs are less and where the government, despite all the talk about free enterprise, subsidizes its agriculture to the hilt. The brighter spots are blueberries and mink ranching, while apples seem to be holding their own on the force of exports of Honeycrisp apples. Also, farm markets are springing up in towns around Nova Scotia.
On the whole, says Nason, the very largest farms continue to grow a bit, while part-time "lifestyle" farmers are increasing in numbers – supplying the farm markets, and possibly representing the start of a significant trend to more basic, local and cheaper foods. That’s the more or less good news. It’s the mid-sized farms – the farming middle class, if you will – that continue to shrink and disappear, he says.
So, what now? The GPI report (GPI has reported repeatedly on agriculture, soils, biodversity and other farm-related topics over a decade), which covered Nova Scotia and P.E.I., has apparently brought the point home in both government and farming circles. GPI has been invited to replicate the exercise in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, after which the agriculture industries of all four provinces hope to collectively present their case to the federal and provincial governments.
That case, says Nason, would involve help for "transformation." This is yet to be fully defined in the Atlantic context, but Nason points out that farming is not just about producing food.
In fact, the whole point of the GPI exercise – the letters stand for Genuine Progress Index – is that farming is not just about economic inputs and outputs as the gross domestic product index measures it, but about a whole complex of social, environmental and other benefits. Ultimately, it’s about the integrity of the society around it.
In many places, farmers are also producers of energy – their own, plus some to sell back to the grid – as well as forest-related products and services, and other things. There are also the natural advantages of the region – for various grasses that might be used for energy and other diverse purposes, for fruit and berry-growing, and so on. The trend to local food would also be helped by the purchasing policies of hospitals, schools, universities, government institutions, etc., and by other policy initiatives to influence the food culture in general. The problem now, says Nason, is that, in its weakened and shrinking state, the farming sector can’t raise the head of steam to make these changes alone.
Hard times often trigger new ways of doing things. The gathering gloom might be the right time to plant the seeds of an agrarian rebirth.
Conversations with respected historians, economists, farmers, sociologists, scientists and other citizens make it increasingly clear that we are going to have to relearn some of the strategies that sustained people during the Great Depression. The global economic free-fall is not going to end soon - hopefully in a few years there will be a green light at the end of the tunnel. The economy is being worsened by the printing of trillions of dollars that represent little of value - thus compounding the initial fall of the mortgage house of cards. The cash bail-out bucket is riddled with holes through which ordinary citizen's tax-dollars will be leaking for years to come. Infrastructure spending is one way to start the economy moving again, but in what direction? Same old highways? Same old industries? Same old is not going to work any longer, but we seem to have doubled the strength of our rose-coloured glasses. This is going to hurt us and we can't hold it off by building and buying more of the same stuff and such.
On January 8, soon-to-be President Barack Obama described America's economic future in apocalyptic terms: "We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime - a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks, and that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse. I don't believe it's too late to change course but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible".
In fact, America is at great risk: huge numbers of companies are going into bankruptcy, millions of jobs were lost in 2008 and now 12.5 million Americans are looking for work, China could bail out of part of the $1.3 trillion it holds as "banker" to America (last year China spent 15% of it's entire economic output buying U.S. treasury bills), and despite billion dollar infusions to banks credit is rarely available even to those who do want to create new jobs. Almost 80% of Canadian exports go to America and they're not going to be buying nearly as much, especially if trade barriers are put in place to protect domestic production.
In February Canadians were shocked to learn that another 82,600 jobs had disappeared, bringing the four month total to 295,000, and the unemployment rate to 7.7%. Apart from a small return in manufacturing, agriculture was the only sector to gain jobs. Canada’s trade balance dropped to a record deficit from a surplus of more than C$5 billion in August. A CIBC spokesperson said: "With forthcoming plant closures and layoffs already announced, it's clear that the worst is yet to come". If Canada loses jobs even at the pace it did the early 1990s half a million more jobs will disappear.
The current financial storm has been approaching for many years - each year a smaller percentage of a dollar represents actual material goods - and each recession has primed the pump for another. But this time there are tremendous additional pressures. Today 6.7 billion people need and want a whole lot more of everything than two billion did in 1930. And all these people have used up between 50 and 75% of the earth's non-renewable resources - where will the predicted 9 billion by 2040 get food, water and shelter?
The average global temperature is increasing in lock-step with carbon emissions, causing droughts in some countries and flooding in coastal countries. If the current 380 PPM of CO2 reaches thepredicted level of 450 PPM by 2040 the increasing melting of Polar and Greenland icecaps could raise sea level more than one meter above the current level (Climate Dynamics, January 2009) displacing hundreds of millions of people. By 2040 -2060 there will be “perpetual food crisis” (Higher Temperatures Seen Reducing Global Harvests, SCIENCE, January 2009) as global warming causes massive and simultaneous crop failures in many regions. Already some countries can no longer grow enough food to feed their own people, and food exports from many countries are already decreasing. The era of inexpensive imported food is coming to a close - possibly far more rapidly than we can even yet imagine.
We must take greater charge of our own destiny. We must buy fewer consumer good, not more - no longer falling for the argument that we must buy now to help stimulate the economy - it's obviously had more stimulation than the world's natural resources can provide. We are entering the post-consumption era, and sustainability is the new watchword. We must consume locally and sustainably. Local Christmas trees - not plastic from China, local lamb - not from New Zealand, local apples – not from California, and on and on. No, we can't grow or make everything we need, but often we can reduce or substitute effectively.
The absolute bottom line is food. That we must have. And we're not going to be getting it in the usual quantity (or quality - in many cases that's already left) from distant shores. We have to have the farmers and the knowledge and the land to insure that we have food.
On December 29, 2008 Laurent d'Entremont wrote the following in The Kings County Advertiser: "Two-acre farm a saving grace -For those who did a bit of farming, enough cannot be said for the two-acre farm. This provided you with eggs, butter, milk, potatoes, carrots, beans, corn and turnips. In other words, it prevented you from starving to death. Cows, chicken and a pig were a necessity to survive on the farm. Families who had a pig to slaughter meant that even in the hungriest of times, they could still have ham and eggs for breakfast in the morning. When a pig was butchered, the saying was that they saved everything but the squeal.” And further: “There are still a lot of people left who remember the lean years of the Great Depression. They all have their story to tell, stories that should not be forgotten. Most people will likely agree the small family farm, without a shadow of a doubt, prevented us from starving 70 years ago and could very well do it all over again."
Yes, the small, medium and large family farms of Nova Scotia can do it all over again. It is time for a transition – back to buying more food from the family farm. There is a natural resiliency in Nova Scotians, born of years of necessity, born of farming and fishing and figuring out how best to keep going. This is the time to put that resilience to work. Find a farmer and pay for the produce. Lend a hand or a voice or money. Make government aware that you support and need local food and local business and that you will not settle for the uncertain future of long-distance food. Tell your friends and relatives and your community what you think and how you hope to make a difference. Growing more food in Nova Scotia will be good for people, the economy, and the environment. It's time for us to make a difference - our life and our livelihood depends on it.
The Agricultural Working Group report of July 2007:
Kings County farmland represents a valuable source of heritage that plays an important role in defining the rural character of the area. Recognizing the significance of the agricultural industry, Kings County has demonstrated a commitment to agricultural land preservation. Since 1979, Municipal Council has made special efforts, through policy and zoning, to protect high capability farmland from non-farm development.
Kings County has some of the most productive farmland in Nova Scotia. The ability to cultivate crops in and around the valley floor is a result of unique conditions, including climate and soil type, and a long history of local investment in agricultural development. Agriculture supports the local economy through food production, value-added processing and agri-tourism.
Kings County has the most agriculturally based economy in Nova Scotia. As reported in the 2001 census, the County’s agricultural labour force numbers 2100, with an additional 2200 employed in agricultural-related activities. This local industry represents 1/3 of the agriculture and ½ of the agricultural-related manufacturing for Nova Scotia. The County produces over ¾ of the province’s tree fruit, potatoes and chicken and over 2/3 of its turkey and laying hens.
The impact of this industry on the local economy is significant. In 2006, 604 farms in Kings County reported revenues of $170 million from the previous year’s operations. The overall farming capability of Kings County is disproportionately large relative to its comparatively modest agricultural land base. In fact, the total farm production per capita is 2 ½ times the national average. According to Dave Robinson, an economist with the Department of Agriculture (2006), the reason for the success of the agricultural industry in Kings County has been its diversified nature and its ability to adapt to changing economic conditions. At the same time, Robinson points out that the availability of cropland will impose limits on what farmers can accomplish in the future.
Agricultural land in Kings County is not only valuable for its crop production; this scenic land is important to recreational visitors as well as tourism-related businesses. Wineries, farm markets and u-picks are all examples of important ancillary businesses. The Kentville Agricultural Research Station is also largely supported by the area’s extensive agricultural base. A significant agricultural processing industry also depends upon the agricultural production of Kings County.