Laura Howard graduated from the SFU Certificate Program for Community Economic Development in 2014. She has worked with agricultural communities across Canada and around the world, and is committed to work to support the development of thriving local food systems.
Laura is a consultant in local food systems and local food economies. Together with co-found Marina Jolly, they are working towards creating a cooperative of food system consultants in order to centralize information and clearly identify the barriers faced by emerging food system entrepreneurs.
Both Laura and Marina are working on a number of contracts related to urban food systems, food access, and building direct market relationships with urban buyers. By working directly with local entrepreneurs in Montreal, and following the evolution of ventures across Canada, they are learning more about their work and developing different approaches.
Laura has a background in community and international development. She worked in agricultural projects in West Africa and Central America which led her to become interested in food systems and the challenges food producers are facing in Canada and around the world.
The conversation around the future of farming is shifting from larger scale industrial farming to small scale sustainable farming, which is positive. However, many of the current paths to market do not favour small scale farmers, notably those in more rural and remote areas who have to deal with a significant logistics and distribution challenges.
Upon her return, she was working in communications and taking course in food security. Laura enrolled in the CED program at SFU to try to better connect the dots between sustainable regional food systems and thriving local food economies.
Community economic development is about re-localizing economies. Communication can help to create positive celebratory language around things that are happening, instead of talking about what is not happening and how much trouble everyone is in.
Together they created an event series called “Talk with Your Mouth Full,” a collaborative project promoting the people bringing good food to the table. There are a lot of people working behind the scenes to build a stronger more resilient local food system. This includes chefs, foodtrepeneurs, farmers and consumers. Without engaging the public in the good work they are doing, they will struggle to really take the movement to the next level.
-Written by the SFU Certificate Program for Community Economic Development
Published in December 2016