The the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CR-FAIR) held their annual Food Mattera Forum at the Victoria Friendship Centre. I attended along with about 100 other people.
It was worth it for me to have gone because of some of the contacts I made there, but in general I am not sure it really accomplished much. I was in the morning session on research. The presenters were interesting enough, but the topics were very unrelated and all over the place. As interesting it is to hear about designing criteria for municipal approval of farm worker housing by Paula Hesje, it was not really germane to anyone there other Ryan Vantrieght.
The two guys from the Lifecycles project I think have done some interesting work, but it was presented sort of haphazardly.
Teron Moore, student at Royal Roads, talked about his research, Improving Food Access Through Collaborative Food Distribution. Not enough time for his presentation and I am not sure he got enough good data to really conclude anything.
Pat Reichert from Saltspring was the most interesting in a tangible way to me because she talked about the trends on Saltspring with respect to agricultural production over the last five years. Meat is down dramatically, but fruit and veg is up
One of the problems with the crowd was the disparate levels of knowledge of food related issues. The weakest area was with the economics of food. It is all wonderful to say "X" should happen, but if it is not economically sustainable, no one will do it. Most of the people there were from the soft left community NGO world. Great people, but often not really in touch with the bigger financial picture.
There were some interesting people there, Dave Friend "Mr Organics", Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May, Green Party of BC leader Jane Sterk, and Gabe Epstein of Gorge Tillicum Urban Farmers. But as with many workshops and conferences, they did not allow for enough time for people mingle and talk.
I can see there is a potential here, but I also know that if I see a potential from the CR-FAIR and it is not happening, it is up to me to take part in the process and help it to be more than it is.
I will be posting about the Vantreight farm, there is some really interesting stuff going on there, and the Tillicum Gorge Urban Farmers in the next few days.
The cost was cheap and it included lunch. If you are interested in food (growing, cooking or eating) it is worth going to meet other people with similar interests.