Alison Blay-Palmer

Research

Funded Research Activities
Lifetime total of $8.1 million (PI: $3.8 million; Co-applicant: $4.3 million)

Food: Locally Embedded Globally Engaged (FLEdGE)

Principal Investigator SSHRC Partnership Grant // 2015-2020 // $2,473,898
Food: Locally Embedded Globally Engaged (FLEdGE)

14 co-applicants, 21 collaborators, 48 partners; matching cash and in-kind support of over $1.5 million with support for 116 graduate students and 5 postdocs. Sustainable food system research themes: 1) innovative governance; 2) integration across scales, sectors and disciplines; 3) whether/how to scale up and out.

Food: Engaging Action for Sustainable Transformation (FEAST)

Principal Investigator: International Social Sciences Council – Transformations to Sustainability Seed Grant // 2014-2015 // €30,000
Food: Engaging Action for Sustainable Transformation (FEAST)

Application brought together communities and researchers from Kenya, Mexico, Brazil, the EU and the Canadian Northwest Territories to develop research at the intersection of food, climate change and social economies with particular attention to aboriginal communities and women.

SSHRC- IDRC Hungry Cities

Co-applicant // 2014-2020 // $2.5 million
SSHRC- IDRC Hungry Cities

Expert advisor, Phase 1: developed metrics for and assessing food security in the six cities in the global south; Phase II: exploring dimensions of the social economy of food

Carasso Foundation, City-region Food Systems

Co-applicant // 2014-2017 // €630,000
Carasso Foundation, City-region Food Systems

With RUAF (Resources for Urban Agriculture and Food Security) and the UN-Food and Agriculture Food-for-Cities branch to assess food security and develop definitions around the ‘City-Region’ concept in seven urban regions.

The social economy of food: Informal, under-recognized contributions to community prosperity and resilience

Principal Investigator: SSHRC Insight Grant // 2014-2018 // $494,430
The social economy of food: Informal, under-recognized contributions to community prosperity and resilience

We will explore variations of a social economy, with a focus on under-studied activities within the informal economy. By understanding their role in food security and community development we will identify how they can benefit marginalized communities, including low-income groups, Aboriginal people, youth and women. The research asks whether and how a social economy of food can/does: 1) increase prosperity for marginalized groups; 2) build adaptive capacity to increase community resilience; 3) bridge divides between elite consumers and more marginalized groups; 4) increase social capital; and, 5) foster social innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic diversification.

Food hub feasibility studies: Building food system resilience in community values chains

Principal Investigator: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food // 2014-2015 // $200,000
Food hub feasibility studies: Building food system resilience in community values chains

We will explore variations of a social economy, with a focus on under-studied activities within the informal economy. By understanding their role in food security and community development we will identify how they can benefit marginalized communities, including low-income groups, Aboriginal people, youth and women. The research asks whether and how a social economy of food can/does: 1) increase prosperity for marginalized groups; 2) build adaptive capacity to increase community resilience; 3) bridge divides between elite consumers and more marginalized groups; 4) increase social capital; and, 5) foster social innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic diversification.

Sustainable Regional Food Systems Workshop: Theory, Practice and Policy

Principal Investigator: SSHRC Conference and Workshop Grant // 2014-2015 // $18,500
Sustainable Regional Food Systems Workshop: Theory, Practice and Policy

The WLU-SSHRC funded workshop brought together more than 40 scholars, policy-makers and practitioners in Waterloo for three days of meetings. This event provided an opportunity for many in the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems community to meet for the first time. They were able to share their work, learn about innovative research methods including Collective Impact Approaches, and develop future collaborative research goals. Day Two of the workshop was open to the public and included 90 participants from government, NGOs and civil society.

Building and Reinforcing Resilient Regional Food Networks in Canada and Beyond

Principal Investigator: SSHRC Partnership Development Grant //
Building and Reinforcing Resilient Regional Food Networks in Canada and Beyond

Partners and researchers supporting 'Building and reinforcing resilient regional food networks in Canada and beyond' work to foster increased social equity, ecological resilience and economic viability through more sustainable regional food systems. Our specific goals are to: 1. Support regional food system resilience by scaling up and connecting existing community projects; 2. Strengthen connections within an emerging collaborative research network between eight universities (Carleton, Guelph, Lakehead, Ryerson, Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier and York) and more than twenty community food organizations; 3. Extend the network of researchers and practitioners to connect to and disseminate findings through international partners.

This grant is complemented by work with Karen Landman at the University of Guelph through support from the OMAF- MRA - University of Guelph Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT) programme. Thanks to this important support, we have developed web-based tools that allow us to share our findings and engage with the researchers and practitioners.

The Partnership Development Grant involves nine faculty, six graduate students and four postdocs as researchers. In addition there are a total of 52 people from businesses, industry associations, members of civil society organizations, NGOs, food networks, universities, public health units, municipal and provincial governments who actively participate in the partnership in an advisory capacity. These members ensure that the results of the work are informed by practical considerations, widely available and presented in formats useful to both practitioners and academics. The PAR and collaborative research methodologies are designed to garner and build on knowledge generated in civil society and the public sectors and to bring those insights and that expertise into this project as a whole.

Together the research team has built substantial and embedded collaborations with other academic researchers across Canada, in the US and the EU. In particular, there is a decade of very involved collaboration with Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Institute that now includes joint funding applications in the EU. There is also international reach to Germany, France, South Africa and Bangladesh, as well as connections to the UN Food-for-Cities and UNESCO. The partnership has a history of working with community groups including Canada’s largest community food security organization, FoodShare, and has forged relationships with government/policy bodies (for example, Toronto Food Policy Council and public health units across Ontario).

Building Regional Food Hubs in Ontario: Fostering linked-up thinking and practice through sustainable food systems

Principal Investigator: SSHRC Public Outreach Grant //
Building Regional Food Hubs in Ontario: Fostering linked-up thinking and practice through sustainable food systems

As the Principal Investigator for this project, I have the privilege to work with faculty and graduate students from eight Ontario universities, food experts from nine NGOs, officials from four government departments and colleagues at the Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University.  Our common interests focus on supporting emerging and existing community food projects across Ontario.  In the process we are gaining valuable insights into how community food projects work and the ways they provide solutions to the most pressing issues including better access to healthy food, social justice, improved policy and planning, and more resilient communities, ecologies and food economies.

Developing regional food hubs: Applying knowledge to increase local food purchasing through local food linkages and value chains

Co-investigator with Karen Landman, University of Guelph //
Developing regional food hubs: Applying knowledge to increase local food purchasing through local food linkages and value chains

This OMAFRA sponsored project has multiple goals. First, the project involves a scan to compile information about various local food initiatives across Ontario. Community groups, distribution networks, and producer associations are just some of the initiatives that are being investigated through interviews, observations, and literature review. That investigation will result in a models and best practices report as well as a toolkit intended to inform Ontario's food initiatives about resources, models, and potential obstacles. The toolkit will be tested in three communities and revised before being launched in the early summer of 2012.

Research to Revitalize Rural Economies

EDCO Regional Research Project //
Research to Revitalize Rural Economies

As part of the ‘Research to Revitalize Rural Economies’ project, Matt Murphy, Marianne Stewart and I are identifying and documenting existing and emergent innovative initiatives focused on the ‘green economy’ in eastern Ontario. The key goals of this project are to report best practices and identify existing gaps with a view to fostering synergies within and across sectors, and between institutions. In determining where organizations are currently positioned and who the leaders are in each sector, companies can benefit from improved linkages, information flows and market opportunities.  This project will be rolled out to southwestern Ontario in 2012/2013 as part of a SSHRC funded research project also led by Dr. Yolande Chan at the Queen’s School of Business.  Dr. Chan is the Principal Investigator for the larger research projects focused on rural economic revitalization.

SSHRC funds Food Counts

Canada's Sustainable Food Systems Report Card //
SSHRC funds Food Counts

The report card project is entering its third year. We have a pilot version in preparation for Canada, Prince Edward Island and all of its counties, Ontario and the Region of Waterloo. This year we also added Guelph-Wellington county.  We have identified over fifty indicators to help us understand the community, environmental and economic well-being of Canadian communities. Indicators include environmental protection measures, farm incomes, extent of imported food, diabetes rates and levels of food security. We have also been working on understanding specific community stories to put a face on what the numbers tell us.  For more information or to share local food success stories, please contact me.

Exploring the Feasibility and Benefits of Local Food in Ontario’s Healthcare System

University of Guelph (UoG)/Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) sponsored project //
Exploring the Feasibility and Benefits of Local Food in Ontario’s Healthcare System

I am very excited to be working as a collaborator on this research.  Sponsored as part of the Food for Health research theme, the project is exploring the options for integrating local, sustainable food into hospital meals.  The research team is led by Paulette Padanyi from Marketing and Consumer Studies (UoG), with other collaborators including Vinay Kinetkar, an expert in quantitative analysis from the same department, and Linda Varangu and Tania  Del Matto from My Sustainable Canada. The project runs from May 2010 to early 2013.

Models and Best Practices for Building Effective Local Food Systems in Ontario

OMAFRA, Sustainable Rural Communities project //
Models and Best Practices for Building Effective Local Food Systems in Ontario

Our project is now complete thanks to the hard work of PI Karen Landman (SEDRD at UoG) and a team of hard working grad students.  The report summarizes the important factors for effective food systems, barriers to development and the current effort of respondents based on interviews with key informants from across the province. Please contact me for a copy of the report or an executive summary.

SSHRC Knowledge in Society (KIS) Grant

‘Revitalizing rural economies by mobilizing academic knowledge’ //
SSHRC Knowledge in Society (KIS) Grant

This SSHRC-funded research initiative is a multi-year project led by Yolande Chan the Director of the Monieson Centre in the Queen’s School of Business and the community partner, Prince Edward, Lennox and Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (PELA CFDC).