Local food system development

The opportunities for local food systems development in New Brunswick are numerous (many of which are listed below). Geographically, there is lots of available land that is prime for agricultural activity that has been unused for many years, making it ideal for anyone interested in organic or holistic farm management. There are several constraints, however, some of which include a lack of young people choosing a career in farming as well as the capitol needed for infrastructure and buying quota licenses.

The most widespread successes of local food systems development are listed below, and focus largely on small to medium scale farm businesses with emphasis placed on direct sales to the consumer.

There is growing interest in organic agriculture in the maritime provinces, given the growing consumer demand for healthy and sustainably produced food. Recently, ACORN commissioned a study titled “Organic Research and Market Plan: Final Report” which was “…commissioned to explore both the domestic and export market opportunities for organic agri-food producers in the Atlantic Canada region.” Findings highlight that the real challenge for development of a string organic industry in the Maritimes is the ability for smaller producers in the region to meet the growing demands of the marketplace in terms of volume, price, and quality.

Some of the alternatives to the industrial model of agriculture in the province of New Brunswick include:

Farmer’s Markets

The Bouchtouche Farmers’ Market/Marché des fermiers BouchtoucheThe Bouchtouche Farmers’ Market/Marché des fermiers Bouchtouche There are upwards of 20 farmers’ markets spread throughout New Brunswick.

The farmers’ market in Dieppe is farmer owned, and all markets emphasize local products that vary from seasonal produce to organic chicken, turkey, beef, pork, maple and dairy products.

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a growing movement between urban and rural communities that facilitates the partnership between growers and consumers.

'CSA' generally involves a group of families and individuals who team up with one farmer or a group of farmers, and who then pay a fee for their share of the harvest. They pay part of the cost of the season's produce upfront and the rest later - regardless of the quantity of the bounty.

The benefits to CSAs is that consumers are connected with the people growing their food, which encourages them to learn about how their food is grown and consequently how hard farmers work and how undervalued food and farm labour really is in this country. Also, farmers get better prices because they are paid directly by consumers.

CSAs put the "culture" back into agriculture. Instead of being an anonymous commodity bought in a bland supermarket, food becomes an intimate part of life. CSA members know where their food comes from and who grew it. The farmer-consumer link is made stronger - and more enjoyable - through days when people can visit 'their' farm. In fact, some members cite the farm visits as the highlight of the whole experience.”

And, since long distance trucking is eliminated from the process of delivering food from farm to table, less greenhouse gas emissions are spewed into the environment.

CSA Farms in the Maritimes

Food Buying Cooperatives

Groups of people across the country form food buying clubs where, for a small annual membership fee, food is ordered in bulk from local farmers in the area. This is particularly useful for communities that are not close to a farmers’ markets as it makes local farm products accessible, and is organized in such a way that a central pick up point makes delivery simple.

Marketing Cooperatives

  • Northumberland Lamb Marketing Co-op (Nova Scotia)

    “We adopted a business model dedicated to the current welfare of the participants in the business – all the sheep farmers who sold their lambs through the co-op – and not to the welfare of the co-op itself through capital accumulation. We did not try to drive anyone out of business but rather to provide service and ‘product’ better than anyone else and provide the best return we could to the farmers. (Northumberlamb is still functioning on the same principles.)”
    Excerpt from The Ram’s Horn
    24 Brookside Branch Road
    RR # 2
    Truro Nova Scotia B2N 5B1

  • La Récolte de Chez Nous (Very Local Harvest). This farmer owned co-operative in South Eastern New Brunswick is an example of how local food systems can work.

  • Abattoir Cooperative (Nova Scotia)

  • Brookside Abattoir Co-op Limited
    RR #2, Truro,
    Civic No. 24
    Nova Scotia
    B2N 5B1
    (902) 893-8994 Fax (902) 893-0426