Food and Farm Innovation

Although the trend for North American farms has been a shift towards fewer and larger farms, many smaller-scale farmers have been unable, or unwilling, to industrialize to that extent. Often this has meant those farmers have found sustaining agricultural livelihoods difficult, but with the right elements in place, smaller-scale farmers can survive and even thrive. To do that, emphasis is placed on non-commodity crops, finding local and regional market niches, diversification of food products and explicitly linking food to the social, economic and environmental aspects of the region in which it was grown or made.

Through new, innovative farm practices, the industry can meet the needs of the current and future market, and reach a higher level of economic sustainability. Food and Farm Innovation provides Sustain Ontario with a comprehensive analysis of the important planning, policy and broader economic, environmental, and social implications of agricultural practice.

The students developed an approach to making land use policy more adaptive, integrated and flexible with regard to agricultural and food policy at the regional or municipal level. Several themes emerged through investigation of four different agricultural regions. The themes identified by the students are secondary uses, value-adding, severances, minimum farm parcel size, and minimum farm distance separation.

This project identifies a need for these practices to encourage innovation and generate an economically viable agricultural region. Additionally, the project aims to reveal, examine, and explore the regulatory barriers to on-farm innovation. The students used their research as a basis to propose options for a more integrated land use planning and policy context where it is encouraged to approach agriculture in progressive and innovative ways.




Sustain Ontario

Team Members

Amanda Chen, Heather Britten, Jessica Krecklo, Josh Hilburt, Nick Weigeldt, Sharan Kaur