Parry Sound and Area Food Lab #1 Summary

This document chronicles the results and findings of participants at the first Parry Sound and Area Food Lab on March 31, 2016.

Agenda for the day


Agenda Item



Introduction of facilitators, explanation of day’s structure and goals, community guidelines. Begin to speak about goals for the day, why we are here at tables.


System Mapping: 

Each table works as a group to map themselves and others in our food system. We want to start thinking in systems, see interconnections between actors.




Seeing the system: Part 1

1-2 sentences characterising dominant system. 1-2 sentences characterising ideal system.


Seeing System: Part 2

Identify 5-7 variables that control outcomes in the system.





Come up with ideas for how to shift the system, and sort them by type and area of intervention



Summary of day, explanation of what will happen at the next lab, what will be sent out over the break. Everyone is welcome to remain behind for informal discussion.

Opening: 9-9:30am

The goals and structure of the lab were introduced. Participants were asked to respond to the questions:

  1. If you had to be any food, what would you be and why?
  2. What food issue is most important to you?

Question 1

Question 2

fresh tomato

The production of local food and its implication as a farmer & the community

peach- makes me think of summer, lucious, healthy

Access to healthy/nutritious/affordable

parsley- short, crisp, green

Feeding the hungry with healthy food and how to access it at a reasonable price

Garlic- tastes good, healer, protective

Food quality as it relates to health and food security for Canadians

salad- any

Lack of access to fresh produce for marginalized people

watermelon- juicy and cool

Everyone should have a garden- they supply food at a low price all year

apple- naturally sweet

Solutions to educating and ensuring individuals who are considered low income have the ability to access healthy and nutritional foods

pear- because they're delicous and pear blossoms are beautiful

Decline in food skills & food literacy (& in turn health)

sweet crunchy apple

I would like to be more involved with my community with regards to food

System Mapping: 9:30-10:45am

Participants in 4 teams mapped important players and their relationships in the Parry Sound and Area food system. Participants then looked for areas of intense connection, bottlenecks, and other trends. Images of the system maps and key insights are below.

Key learnings from system mapping

Nutrition education starts at elementary level (school gardens, community gardens)

Lack of local food availability to consumers

Lack of connection between local food producers and retail opportunity or distribution

Non-profit sector is instrumental in delivering food access and literacy projects

Lack of knowledge/ skills round food growing and cooking

Kay hubs: grocery stores & farms

partnerships: mostly between programs and public sector (ooportunity for more)

Lack of connection between community and schools/ church

# of connections between producer and communtiy

need for municipal/ governmental support and involvement

Public sector are indirect players in food system, the general public is direct

Lack of connections between food actors and in the mind of consumers

Empty land not in production

Seeing the System: 11am-12:30pm

Participants described the “dominant/prevalent/convenient” food system as well as their “ideal” food system in their teams. They also identified key areas that control outcomes in the food system.

Convenient/Prevailing/Dominant System

Food is imported into the area and not sustainable, promotes food of low nutritional value, which leads to consumption of unhealthy processed/ convenient foods

We are dependant on the global food system. Challenges include consumer education, strong marketing, finances, and expectations

Largely controlled by large grocery stores. Challenges include imported food, lack of food education, and regulatory barriers (provincial and federal)

The dominant food system in our region is predominantly corporately controlled. We have a strong reliance on imported food and limitted access to locally grown or porduced food. The challenges in our area include: lack of farms/ farmers, consumer lack of knowledge (apathy), policy challenges for local producers/ procurement, & an influx of outside population in growing season

Ideal system

An ideal system would be sustained by local grown and produced food which provides a healthy strong community (healthy economy and healthy environment)

Ideal food system is one that is local first, provincial second, national third and is economically viable for farmers and consumers

Local food, accessible and healthy, food "hub". Benefits include health, stongth economy, social includion, community building, and education

We ideally wnt our food to come from our backyards our local Parry Sound area, and Ontario. We want food to connect us, to bring people of all ages together, to build our community economically, socially, physically, and spiritually.


Key areas for intervention

Formal education

Government incentives and policy/ regulation

Leading by example/ individual change

Public awareness, understanding, education

Connections and partnerships for collective impact

Organizational policies, actions, and programs

Community building

Brainstorming: 1:30-2:30pm

Participants generated ideas based on the learnings and conversations from the previous exercises, as well as personal experience. The ideas are listed below, sorted by the areas of intervention identified in the Seeing the System exercise. Ideas that were repeated several times have the number of times they were repeated in brackets.

Formal Education

Food workshops for children in schools

Partnerships between schools and local growers for in-school teaching and farm field trips (6)

College program in agribusiness

Curriculum reform to include food skills like cooking, growing, and nutrition (9)

School gardens (2)

Healthy fundraising in school and at work ie. healthier foods than hot dogs and pizza

High school volunteer hours for food/ growing activities

Government incentives and policy/ regulation

Community food advocacy committee

Approach local and provincial government agencies for support

Public funding for farm training, farm startups (2)

Lobby corp to be more sustainable globally

Less government interference

Incentives to grow own food

Tax fast food heavily

Lobby higher levels of government to force change ie. requiring local food in big box stores

Townships change zoning bylaws for farms to be chared multi-dwelling

Lobby Parry Sound to allow backyard chickens (3)

Change regulations to make it easier for small local abbatoirs

Municipal government to adopt laws to allow more small scale agriculture

Program to reclaim vacant usable land for production

Remove regulations on best before dates

Remove regulations that prevent food trading

Picket the MPP and MP offices

Leading by example/ individual change

Grow food at home and share it (3)

Become vegan during the week

Reduce consumption of processed food

Try new recipes with 5 natural/local ingredients

Take up hunting and fishing

Shop local

Increase time to cook/grow food by reducing work week

Public awareness, understanding, education

Farm mapping

Made in Parry Sound Area brand

Food writer critique with local focus

Social & traditional media campaign to promote local food and nutrition (2)

Info/resources in grocery stores

Farm tours, with local media present

Learning experiences that are accessible for all abilities

Promote alternative agriculture projects eg. mushrooms

Adopt the food charter                

Connections and partnerships for collective impact

Lend land for farming

Farm mentoring program

Directory of workable land/farms for affordable rent/trade

Network and events events for food system actors (2)

Ignite a cooperative food and farming system

Organizational policies, actions, programs

Local food purchasing policies in schools, hospitals, long-term care homes (2)

Downtown green roof

Community building

Celebrations around traditional and wild food

Community greenhouse and lessons (2)

Composting program and home composting (2)

Veggie gardens in public spaces

Create healthy eating supportive environments in community (rec centres, community centres, parks)

Community food/garden coop (2)

Farm rideshare

Bring together concerned community groups to plan and execute projects to grow local food

Competition for the best backyard vegetable garden

Music events on farms

Local food community dinners and cook-offs (2)

Closing: 2:30-3pm

Participants were asked to reflect on and share:

  1. A learning from the day
  2. An action they want to take or a change they want to make

Question 1

Question 2

I realized that the interconnections between food and community is paramount

I will increase my effort to connect with many different parts of my community ie. schools, harvest share, etc.

Strong community interest in increasing connectedness of food players

Support momentum

Participants were varied in backgrounds with common ideas and hopes for a better future for Parry Sound and the earth in general

A bonus would be lunch made with all locally sourced ingredients

Importance of local production

Create a garden in my backyard

Many interested groups

Write letters and change bylaws, go to schools and introduce new programs

All the interested parties, common goal

Urban chickens in town zoning bylaws, "made in PS", urban agriculture

There are lots of organizations interested in food issues

There needs to be more cooperation between said groups to plan and execute tangible projects

I learned that food plays a large role in everyday lives, from the individual, the community local business, and coporate business

I want to be part of the change/ move towards a more sustainable food source and economy for the Parry Sound District

The connections needed with education (elementary)

Work more to develop partnerships/ networks in area

Many people/ groups share a common sense of the changes we'd like in the food system

Letter to town re. chickens, share the plethora of ideas, come to #2 lab

Great people in the room!

I could contribute to zoning/ regulatory change

A lot of like-minded people


People need to write letters to the town of PS re. chickens. Take actions!

Tell my friends and family about everything I've learned and encourage them to support local food

Wide discussion of issues

Land available for farming, school/college education, year round access to food products

Still need to reach out to new parties- build group

Help create a Made in Parry Sound Label

There is a lot of great people here doing great things and I need to take more action rather than keep thinking

Invite local growers and producers to sell their products in our store

There are great community leaders in Parry Sound who want to make a stronger food system

I am available to talk/ present on food co-op development/ ideas. I encourage Parry Sound to keep going on this!