Updates of the Chair

  • A few thoughts on permaculture

    An example of permaculture application at the household scale.


    Have you ever heard the term permaculture? If you do any gardening or have investigated methods of living more efficiently and sustainably, you might have heard about it (even if you aren’t entirely sure what it is).

    Permaculture is the combination of two words: perma (short for permanent) and culture (short for agriculture). It was coined by Australian researchers Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978 during the rise of the sustainable agriculture movement. While most commonly used in reference to food growing systems, permaculture has now evolved to apply to all aspects of our lives. Simply put, permaculture is a set of principles developed to help us meet our basic human needs by utilizing and imitating systems found in nature.

    As expressed in Holmgren’s 2002 book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, there are 12 design principles most commonly associated with permaculture. They are as follows: Observe and Interact; Catch and Store Energy; Obtain a Yield; Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback; Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services; Produce No Waste; Design From Patterns to Details; Integrate rather than Segregate; Use Small and Slow Solutions; Use and Value Diversity; Use Edges and Value the Marginal; Creatively Use and Respond to Change. Mark D. Hathaway also explores these concepts in his 2015 research article titled Agroecology and permaculture: addressing key ecological problems by rethinking and redesigning agricultural systems. 

    Permaculture gardening, specifically, takes a holistic approach to how plants, animals, and humans interact together to make each garden plot more sustainable. These gardens use natural forces to provide everything the garden needs to flourish while seeking to reduce the need for any external inputs, such as fertilizers or pesticides. It can be quite flexible to implement and can be done in rural or urban places, started on a balcony, in a backyard, or on a small farm.

    Permaculture is often promoted as an ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change or a strategy or action that employs the use of nature-based solution (looking to nature for tackling socio-environmental challenges). Just as an ecosystem is healthier when filled with multiple species, a diverse garden also tends to be more resilient to climatic variability. Companion planting (planting numerous mutually beneficial species of plants together) can also support greater yields, as well as having the capacity to reduce erosion and water runoff during storms.

    Permaculture attempts to ensure that humans and the natural environment can adapt to climate change. An example of this is utilizing permaculture gardening as a cost-effective way to promote food subsistence and security for individuals and communities. The permaculture and circular economy movements are also closely linked, as both strive to avoid the generation of waste by promoting recycling and the reusing of materials.

    Applying permaculture principles to gardening can help the garden itself to be more productive while also reducing the work needed to maintain it.  The micro-climate and fertile soil found in the Niagara Region also makes for an ideal location for utilizing permaculture principles to provide healthy and nutrient-rich food. Incorporating permaculture into your next garden project can help you enjoy a diverse range of foods, while also allowing you to do your part to combat climate change in the process.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock-Caspell, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca


     *Holmgren, D. (2002). Principles & pathways beyond sustainability. Holmgren Design Services, Hepburn.

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • Creative Kitchens: Alternatives to plastic for kitchen use

    Glass containers, beeswax wrap and food storage bags are a few of the many sustainable alternatives to plastic for kitchen use.


    From daunting news reports to the removal of straws from restaurants and the five cent bag tax, awareness around the impacts of plastic pollution is increasing. More than one billion tons of plastic have been produced over the past fifty years, and less than nine per cent of that has been recycled. As it takes centuries for plastic to decompose, most of that plastic ends up in the natural environment — including our oceans and lakes. This type of pollution is now present all over the world, contributing to overflowing landfills and the death and contamination of many aquatic species.

    The amount of plastic products in your kitchen alone (often used for eating, drinking and transporting and storing food) is staggering. One trillion single-use plastic bags are used annually across the globe. In 2016, there were more than 480 billion plastic bottles sold worldwide—that’s nearly two million every minute. There are also several other plastic waste producers in your kitchen that you might not think about, such as plastic containers, food wrap, and storage bags.

    There are some simple and cost-effective switches you can make to create a more sustainable kitchen, however. Reusable fabric grocery bags and water bottles made of metal or glass can help you cut back on your plastic consumption. While the bottles may take more energy to produce initially, they are generally reused more times than a single-use water bottle and are more sustainable in the long-run. If you choose bottled water over tap water because you’re concerned about the water quality, you can always purchase a water filtration or reverse osmosis system to treat your water. Tap water, however, is generally of excellent quality and is required to meet strict provincial safety standards.

    Saving leftovers in the fridge is another great way to reduce food waste and save money, but it’s also important to look at the sustainability of your food preservation system. Consider shifting from plastic to glass containers, for example, and replacing plastic food wrap with a natural and compostable product, such as beeswax wraps or bags. Another perk to using beeswax is that it allows for produce and fresh food to breathe, which will prevent it from spoiling as quickly. All you have to do to reuse your beeswax wraps and bags is to wash them with cold water and mild soap, and then dry them thoroughly. These products are becoming more readily available and affordable, and can be purchased on the internet, at your local farmers’ market or in certain grocery stores.

    If possible, buying in bulk can also help reduce the amount of disposable containers and plastic waste that you are purchasing. In some cases, doing so can also save you money.

    These are just a few great examples of how you can reduce our footprint and reduce waste. Small actions play a big role in climate action, and it is crucial to find sustainable alternatives for everyday use in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our contribution to climate change. The suggestions listed above are affordable and easy ways to begin reducing plastic use at home, move toward a circular economy, and practice the 5 R’s: rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, and lastly, recycle.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier and Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • Community Gardens

    Depending on its size, a community garden can produce enough food to fulfill a portion, if not all, of the gardeners’ fresh produce and herb needs during the growing season. The Brock University community garden, pictured here, is a great example of what companion planting may look like.


    Community gardens are a great way for families and individuals to grow fresh and healthy produce and connect with other passionate greenthumbs in their area. They contain individual and / or shared plots for growing a variety of fruits, vegetables and other desireable plants (including flowers). They are gardened by a group or a community of people which are usually volunteers. Community gardens can be located in a variety of locations such as schools, parks, churches, community housing properties and even private properties. The Niagara Region has more than 70 community gardens, including one at Brock University.

    The success and sustainability of community gardens relies on community support and a variety of people getting involved. If you don’t have a greenthumb, there are many other opportunities to volunteer or get involved with your local community garden. Taking on some of the maintenance of the garden, donating materials or leading workshops are a few of the many ways to contribute. Every member of the community brings their own strengths, knowledge, and experience to the garden, which serves to increase its overall productivity.

    Many community gardeners look to use healthy and sustainable techniques to increase the success and productivity of their plots. One of the most common techniques is known as companion planting, which involves placing a crop (e.g., kale) in combination with another crop (e.g. onion) for benefits, such as reducing pest infestation. Companion planting can also involve the use of flowers. This method, also called diversification, helps with pest control, pollination, maximizes the use of space and increases crop productivity.

    While there are thousands of successful plant combinations, here is a small list of common crops grown together and their benefits:

    • Planting onions in between lettuce and carrots will help to keep away rabbits.
    • Marigolds are often planted with lettuce, bean plants and tomatoes to prevent a variety of pests.
    • Lemon balm can be planted near flowering crops, such as apples, to help attract bees and encourage pollination.
    • Planting basil near asparagus will attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs. Ladybugs help to fight off unwanted pests such as aphids or leafhoppers.
    • Beans are generally a great companion to all crops as they help to increase healthy nutrients in the soil such as nitrogen.

    Gardens can be managed at a very low cost while also utilizing vacant green spaces.  As well as allowing members to get to know and interact with their neighbours, a garden can also help to partially address the food security of a community. They also promote local produce and help to reduce our energy footprint, which is a mitigation action to climate change. Finally, community gardens have the opportunity to address several of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and, through these goals, create a healthier and more sustainable environment for our communities.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier and Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • OSCIII BLOG: The importance of supporting local consumption and research

    Locally sourced produce grown here in Ontario, May 2020 (Photo: Abby VanVolkenburg).


    Where does our food come from? If your answer was the local grocery store, think again! As we talked about in last week’s blog, much of the food found in grocery stores comes from somewhere other than Canada. This causes challenges such as heightened emissions, attributed to shipping, as well as food chain supply disruptions, especially in times of  uncertainty, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need to consider supporting our local farmers to allow them, in turn, to support us. The relationship is reciprocal, with both parties standing to gain a great deal from one another’s support. Supporting local growers means supporting their livelihoods as well as our overall quality of life. There are also countless environmental benefits of supporting local.

    So how does one support local growers? At first the answer may seem obvious: We need to educate ourselves on where our food comes from and try  to buy locally sourced products whenever possible. Yet, there is so much more to it than that! Aside from selling what they produce, farmers are also faced with many uncertainties in terms of how they produce. Extreme weather events that result from climate change, such as temperature and wind fluctuations and more intense periods of heavy rain or prolonged dry periods, present challenges for farmers. In addition, they also face increasing pressure from pesticide/herbicide resistant organisms, depleted soil fertility, and dwindling (not to mention expensive) synthetic fertilizer options. Farmers need management options that utilize approaches to farming that are more sustainable.

    Sustainable farm management options already exist; many of which have been utilized in the past, before industrialized agriculture became a dominant figure on the landscape. From supporting beneficial organisms, to utilizing non-synthetic fertilizers and increasing cropland diversity, there is no shortage of alternate management options. What is missing, however, is guided research that investigates those different options, and combinations of options, to help farmers apply the best option to suit their own unique situations. Research is not only an important part of understanding farm management techniques, but also in policy making decisions, as well. Policy can either support or work against management choices that are connected to our food supply chain.

    In many ways, farmers are supported by policy and policy is created based on current research data. Anecdotal information is not enough to dictate or change policy (which often works against more sustainable farming practices). There is a need to support both our farmers  and local research efforts to ensure that solutions to today’s sustainable agriculture challenges, both environmental and social, are possible. The OSC3 here at Brock is one such research project that embraces farmers’ knowledge, sustainable practices and the investigation of novel crop management strategies for the future of Canadian food security.

    This blog will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with bi-weekly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • MEOPAR BLOG: Circular economy

    A circular economy is an alternative to our traditional linear economy where we use products, services and resources for as long as possible and then recover and regenerate them at the end of their service life. In a circular economy, everything from concept design through to disposal is assessed, including the energy consumed to produce the item, the materials used, and its impacts on the environment. The process involved in making an item may also be changed to reduce energy or material needs. For example, some items can be made from a more substantial proportion of recycled material. To optimize the use of resources, some components can also be used and reused for multiple purposes. The manure from livestock, for example, can be used as fertilizer for agriculture and then, during composting, the biogas generated can be retained and used as energy. In a circular economy, what may have initially been looked at as waste can instead be reused in a cyclical fashion, extending the life span of our resources and reducing pollution.

    There are three principles in a circular economy: The first looks at how to preserve our natural resources as much as possible and reduce waste and pollution; the second principle aims to optimize the usage of any item or product that we buy or use by regenerating, sharing or even looping the item back into the cycle for reuse; the last principle promotes the minimization of waste and leakage from the production system, which may relate to energy, water use, or the material itself.

    A circular economy is also sometimes labelled as Cradle to Cradle economy. It reinvents waste in such a way that it is eventually considered to be a new source of material, instead of something to be put in a landfill site. Cradle to cradle economy also re-examines the traditional “3 R’s”; so instead of reducing, reusing, recycling, it now includes refuse as the first option. Circular economies can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thus mitigating and adapting to climate change by rethinking our life and how we consume. Think about it: Do you really need a new pair of boots every winter or to replace your cell phone as soon as a newer model hits the market? Or, would you be willing to try and trade in the throwaway culture you’ve come accustomed to in exchange for a system that optimizes everything in our lives to ensure a waste-free, sustainable future?

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier and Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • OSCIII Blog: Food security in a time of uncertainty

    A word cloud depicting the important concepts surrounding food security, April 2020 (Photo: shutterstock.com).


    Farming is an essential service. It is also an industry with a great deal of volatility; farmers must continually rethink how they manage their crops in order to respond to changing weather patterns, depletion of resources, pests, diseases and markets . The current COVID-19 pandemic has also demonstrated how vulnerable agricultural systems can be when the number of workers who can be on site at a time is reduced or the farm has to be shut down entirely. A good first step to achieving total sustainability starts with the consumer. By better understanding where their food and materials come from, they can be more aware of the efforts that are needed to maintain food security.

    Food security is the ability for all individuals to have safe access to food that is nutritious and healthy — no matter their economic or social status. When thinking about our current situation, and the need for social distancing as well as economic shut down, we need to consider what it means to Canadian food security.

    So, where does our food come from? Many might think that we get a lot of our produce locally, especially those living in the Niagara region where fruit farms are plentiful and farmer’s markets are extremely popular. It might come as a surprise to learn that Canada actually imports most of its fruit and vegetable supplies from other countries. Outsourcing our produce means that the food has to travel long distances before ending up on our plates. The further that produce travels, the less secure it is and the more environmentally costly it becomes. One reason Canada relies on imports is that we have a relatively short growing season that limits the amount and variety of produce we can grow. Other factors, such as trade agreements, market demands, and the impossibility to grow some of the tropical produce that many people like in Canada, are also part of the equation.

    It’s important however, to not take our local farmers for granted. Many of our local farmers are developing innovative new greenhouse systems and working with new indoor growing technologies to maintain production during our Canadian winters and attempting to farm as sustainably as possible through organic farming practices. Ideally, more people would also attempt to garden at home, and choose produce that is considered to be more environmentally friendly (which usually translates to buying locally). While our urbanized way of life and potential lack of skills and knowledge might be used as excuses to not try growing our own food, it is indeed worth the effort and satisfaction.

    If growing your own food is not an option, changing your consumption habits to support local growers and suppliers is an impactful way to move toward food security. With borders being closed and food production factories shut down for weeks at a time, relying on Canadian farmers makes good sense. Choosing an Ontario tomato rather than one that has been shipped from as far away as the equator not only helps our farmers—who in turn help us—it also reduces the amount of carbon emissions that result from shipping produce over long distances. Bringing our food supply chain closer to home is one way in which we can help to implement sustainable agriculture and reduce the impacts of climate change. As consumers, we have the power to drive this change.

    This blog section will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with bi-weekly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • MEOPAR BLOG: SUSTAINABILITY RATING SYSTEMS/CERTIFICATIONS FOR BUILDINGS 2.0

    The Grimsby Square Shopping Centre in the Niagara Region is BOMA BEST Silver certified.


    The buildings we live in have direct and indirect impacts on both our health and the health of our planet. There are numerous sustainability rating systems that have been developed to help us contruct and make our existing buildings more efficient and sustainable. We discussed a few of those in a past article (LEED and LBC), and we’ll examine a few more building sustainability certifications that are widely used in Canada below.

    1) BOMA BEST: Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Building Environmental Standards (BEST)

    BOMA BEST is a voluntary national certification program for buildings in Canada that started in 2005. This certification aims to assess the environmental performance and management of buildings in ten key areas: energy, water, air, comfort, health & wellness, custodial, purchasing, waste, site and stakeholder engagement.

    Building owners complete an online assessment and have an on-site verification by a third-party to then qualify for one of five levels of certification: Certified (attained up to 19 per cent on the questionnaire), Bronze (attained between 20 to 49 per cent on the questionnaire), Silver (attained between 50 to 79 per cent on the questionnaire), Gold (attained between 80 to 89 per cent on the questionnaire) and Platinum (attained between 90 to 100 per cent on the questionnaire). The certification is valid for a three-year period.

    Since the BOMA BEST certification can be applied to buildings of all sizes, it is very popular among building owners and managers in the real estate sector. The certification also provides economic advantages as the operation and maintenance costs of the buildings can be reduced through the installation of high-efficiency systems. Obtaining a building BOMA BEST certifion can also help to attract and retain tenants are many renters are now prioritizing environmental efficiency.

    2) BREEAM: Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method

    Developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 1990, BREEAM is the world’s first and oldest established sustainability rating system for buildings and is used in more than 90 countries. The BREEAM rating can also be obtained for community planning and other infrastructure projects, commercial buildings and homes that have been renovated. BREEAM asesses energy, health & well-being, innovation, land-use, materials, management, pollution, transport, waste, and water. There are five BREAAM ratings for buildings: Outstanding (85 per cent and above), Excellent (70 per cent and above), Very Good (55 per cent and above), Good (45 per cent and above) and Pass (30 per cent and above).

    3) Energy Star Certification for buildings

    The ENERGY STAR symbol is a well-known addition to many of our appliances. This energy efficiency rating was established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 and is one of the most common rating systems for electrical and electronic appliances. But did you know that buildings can be ENERGY STAR-certified, too?

    Getting an ENERGY STAR certification for your building involves scoring well on these four benchmarks: energy use, water use, waste and materials. The ENERGY STAR certification uses a scoring system out of 100; a score of 50 is the median energy efficiency performance, and a score of 75 or more means top performance. The aim of this certification is to encourage homeowners to improve efficiency and save money. The certification is valid for one year.

    Buildings are increasingly being certified in the Niagara Region through these various sustainability rating systems and certifications—which is a good thing.  It shows the potential for property owners to make impactful contributions to boosting Niagara’s local economy and lend momentum to climate change mitigation and adaptation programs in the future.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier and Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • MEOPAR BLOG: The importance of restoration for enhancing resilience and adaptation to climate change

    A provincially significant wetland (PSW) in Niagara is being restored by digging out the invasive species phragmites (also known as common reed). The project is a partnership between the Niagara Restoration Council, Ducks Unlimited (DU), the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and a private landowner.


    Ecosystems all over the world have undergone significant damage and stress due to human activities and extreme weather events. This has many adverse effects on biological diversity as well as peoples’ livelihoods and even their health. To bring back these ecosystems, it is crucial that we reverse these negative impacts and degradation. This can be done through a process called ecological restoration, described by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed.

    Restoration is considered a nature-based solution, involving the improvement of the relationship between nature and communities by re-establishing the goods and services that the ecosystem provides. Restoration projects are taking place all over the world in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, including the shorelines of the Great Lakes. There are many different restoration strategies: re-vegetation in areas that have lost their natural plants and trees, habitat enhancement through physical, chemical or biological changes in order to increase the suitability of an environment for native species living, removing invasive species and reintroducing native species that have been lost.

    Remediation is another restoration strategy which helps to reverse or stop environmental damage. This is achieved through the creation of a new ecosystem or by returning the ecosystem to its original state.

    There is a partnership project between the Niagara Restoration Council, Ducks Unlimited (DU), the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and a private landowner for wetland restoration here in Niagara. Pictured, from left, are Stuart McPherson (NPCA), Jeff Krete (DU) and Steve Gillis (NPCA).

    To be successful, restoration projects require the participation of all stakeholders and sectors of society. In the Niagara Region, for example, the Niagara Restoration Council works in partnership with government and non-government groups to restore some of the natural environment in the Niagara Region through various projects. Some of those projects include: Trees for Niagara: Wildlife Corridor Enhancement of Watersheds, building stream buffers for Niagara’s rivers, Fish Barrier survey, and many others. These restoration projects are considered to be critical in bringing back the ecological processes and ecosystem services needed for the future sustainability of the planet. Many other organizations also aim to contribute to this endeavour in the region.

    Enhancing ecosystems through restoration allows native species to return and thrive in their natural environments, helps to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and ultimately builds resilience for present and future generations.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier and Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

     

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • OSCIII Blog: Farming—an essential service

    Spring soil amendment application in a Niagara vineyard, May 2018 (Photo: Heather VanVolkenburg).


    The term “essential service” is one that most of us have become acutely aware of in the past few months. An essential service refers to an occupation that a government or governing body deems to be necessary for preserving life, health and basic societal functioning. These services are determined to be needed during an emergency as well as when job action is taken in a labour dispute (such as during strikes). Such services must maintain operations during a crisis in order to ensure that society can still function during and after that crisis. Services deemed essential usually include hospitals and healthcare, law enforcement, firefighting, garbage collection, utilities (i.e. water and electricity), and food services connected to the food supply chain.

    Determining what qualifies as an essential food service can be complicated. From a consumer’s perspective, we are often only concerned with the availability of food in the grocery store. Some may also think of food services as the prepared salad on the shelf at your local grocery store or a meal purchased from a fast food joint. While these businesses are indeed essential, there is one essential food service that is perhaps the most important: farming. Farming forms the foundation of all food services, providing us with the food and ingredients necessary to survive from day to day. Without farmers, the grocery store where you bought your salad or the fast food joint that served you a hamburger would not exist.

    So, before you finish unpacking those groceries or sitting down with that take-out container, take a moment to thank the farmers and those directly connected to agriculture. Also remember that thinking of terms like “farm” or “grocery store” is far too simplistic to truly understand the nature of being essential. Think not only of the farms, but also the workers, fuel providers, truckers, packaging suppliers, grocery clerks, and countless other people that have been involved in the food supply chain along the way. Without these essential food services, and the many intricate pieces involved, we would be a pretty hungry lot!

    This blog section will be ongoing throughout the duration of the project with bi-weekly updates provided by Liette Vasseur, Heather VanVolkenburg, Kasia Zgurzynski, Habib Ben Kalifa, and Diana Tosato (see research team). We will be providing research activity updates as well as informative pieces that delve into agricultural concepts and important global issues as they relate to agricultural sustainability and climate change. Stay tuned for regular updates!

    Categories: Organic Science Cluster 3 Blog, Updates of the Chair

  • Vasseur publishes first position paper with Building Back Better Post COVID-19 Task Force

    Liette Vasseur, UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, is part of a new task force that will publish a series of Policy Briefs focused on Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Green Infrastructure and Food Systems.

    Known as the Building Back Better Post COVID-19 Task Force, it brings together Canadian experts that are proposing economic recovery measures that would make our communities stronger in a post-COVID-19 world. It was established by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Chair on Food, Biodiversity, and Sustainability Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.

    The first Position Paper published by the task force introduces the series of Policy Briefs focused on Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Green Infrastructure and Food Systems that will be released in the weeks to come.

    Along with Vasseur, other contributors include:

    Alison Blay-Palmer, UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
    Sébastien Goupil, Secretary-General, Canadian Commission for UNESCO
    Debora Van Nijnatten, Professor, Political Science and North American Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University and Faculty Member, Balsillie School of International Affairs
    Eleanor Haine-Bennett, Natural Sciences Program Officer, Canadian Commission for UNESCO
    Harriet Friedmann, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
    Liette Vasseur, UNESCO Chair on Community Sustainability: From Local to Global; Brock University
    Simon Dalby, Professor, Balsillie School of International AffairsWilfrid Laurier University
    Patricia Ballamingie, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies and Human Geography, Carleton University
    Amanda Di Battista, Project Coordinator, Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Wilfrid Laurier University
    Heather Reid, Researcher, UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
    Johanna Wilkes, PhD Candidate, Balsillie School of International Affairs
    David Zandvliet, Simon Fraser University, Professor, Faculty of Education; Director, Institute for Environmental Learning
    Heather Mcleod-Kilmurray, Professor, Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
    Wayne Roberts, Advisor, Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems

    Read the full policy brief.

    Categories: Updates of the Chair