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Local Food Promotional Initiatives in Southwestern Ontario: Linking Composition, Purpose and Producer Engagement

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Title: Local Food Promotional Initiatives in Southwestern Ontario: Linking Composition, Purpose and Producer Engagement
Author: Bloom, Shauna
Department: Department of Geography
Program: Geography
Advisor: Smithers, John
Abstract: This thesis is an investigation of the Buy Local food movement which has become a motivating factor for producers, consumers, and community organizations. The growth of this sector has taken place in the context of a differentiated food system, one in which alternative rural food economies are intertwined with industrial “placeless” agriculture. Producers operating in the food system are exploring local food economies as part of their enterprise development trajectories. Although there are many perceived benefits to a local food system, producers often face challenges in managing multiple aspects of production and marketing. Numerous organizations have stepped in to act as intermediaries, providing producers with resources and promoting local food with media campaigns, local food maps, and special events. Intermediary organizations have varying levels of capacity that often changes as the organization evolves to adapt to available funding, community support, and stakeholder involvement. This work expands the theoretical and empirical work on local food systems in two ways. First, it incorporates work by Quinn and Cameron (1983) and Jawahar and McLaughlin (2001) on organizational lifecycle stages with current work on local food organizations. This provides a unique way of understanding the capacity of an organization to meet identified goals and work well within their communities. Second, the work expands upon the notion of hybridity in the food system, introduced by Ilbery and Maye (2006), and provides empirical evidence of such activity. The research draws upon interviews with 32 producers and 18 organizing members to examine the characteristics, structure, and relations of two local food organizations and producers using the Buy Local Buy Fresh brand in Southern Ontario to examine the characteristics and relations of local food organizations and producers and further to explore the marketing and enterprise strategies of producers participating in the local food initiatives supported by the two organizations. Findings from this study indicate several key factors that are important for building a strong local food organization capable of meeting the needs of its stakeholders. Producers are showing an increased interest in garnering support from regional intermediary organizations, therefore there is a strong interest in strengthening the capacity to grow and support the diverse local food economy.
Date: 2012-05
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