Global Ideas Hard Talk

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Cities and Food: Event Summary

Image : UFV Director of Communications Dave Pinton moderates the "Global Ideas Hard Talk" session
In a period of intensifying globalization and interconnectivity, cities in both developed and developing contexts are increasingly relying on global supply chains to meet their food requirements. Simultaneously, rapid processes of urbanization are swelling many cities and shifting the locus of poverty from rural to urban spaces, which only puts further pressure on already unsustainable food systems. In struggling to adequately supply safe and nutritious foods for all urban dwellers in sustainable ways, cities around the world are in need of new policy visions that ensure the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of our food systems.
On June 9th and 10th, the University of the Fraser Valley’s Agriculture Centre of Excellence hosted the event “Cities and Food”. The event comprised of a field trip (June 9th) and a conference (June 10th) that brought together a consortium of academics, industry professionals, government officials, NGOs, funders, partners, and students to discuss the ways in which urban food systems can be developed securely and sustainably. With such a diverse group of stakeholders coming together to discuss the urban food security crisis, discussion was crosscutting, interdisciplinary, and thought provoking. The event also showcased research being conducted by UFV Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholars (QEScholars) in East Africa that is examining both formal and informal food systems in the region.

Field Trip - June 9th

Participants of the field trip visited four farms in Surrey and the Fraser Valley that demonstrate innovation in production technologies. The first farm was Petkov Kiwi Productions, located in the Mt. Lehman area of Abbotsford, BC. The farm is able to grow pesticide free kiwis on its 8-acre plantation. For more information, visit their website at

Image 2: Participants of the field trip are toured around the Petkov kiwi farm.

The second was Absorbent Concepts Inc., an organic certified facility that is designed to process various seed types and in particular, industrial hemp. The facility features seed cleaning, sizing, de-hulling, fiber collection, cold press oil extraction and filtering plus production of seed cake (for use in hemp protein flour) production. Absorbent Concepts manufactures in-house products and also contracts private label lines. They use high efficiency packaging, labelling, and cold storage of finished products and the company and facility conform to the highest standards of cleanliness and organic purity.

Lunch was had at Krause Berry Farms, a destination farm located in Langley that integrates new growing techniques with traditional methods and uses a whole green farming approach along with an Integrated Pest Management system by variety selection, crop rotation, organic manures, pest monitoring, and by introducing predatory insects. Krause Berry Farms offers over 100 farm-made products and you can learn more about their operations at
The last visit of the day was the BioPods, a UFV agriculture training and research demonstration greenhouse at the John Volken Academy. Along with the development and demonstration of innovative technologies, the BioPods also provides valuable agriculture skills training and certification opportunities for students in addictions recovery. It is expected that students who complete training in the greenhouses will be well-prepared for careers in the greenhouse industry. Guided by academic leaders from the agricultural sector, the BioPods further strengthen Surrey’s food systems while developing innovative solutions for agriculture excellence. For more information, you can visit the following link:

Image 3: Prof. Garry Fehr describes the innovative technologies being used at the BioPod.
Conference - June 10th

The “Cities and Food” conference facilitated cross-cutting discussion on a variety of issues that our urban food systems face globally. The day began with welcome messages from Professor Cherie Enns, UFV QEScholar Jeremy Wagner, UFV Vice Provost and Associate Vice President Dr. Peter Geller, Abbotsford City Councilor Kelly Chahal, and UFV President Dr. Mark Evered. Following introductions, keynote speaker Dr. Alex Awiti of Aga Khan University spoke for 45 minutes on the importance of emphasizing urban food security in policy discourse.

Image 4: Keynote Speaker Dr. Alex Awiti speaks to the importance of informed policy planning for our urban food systems
Following the keynote presentation, the “Global Ideas Hard Talk” session was the first discussion of the day and was moderated by UFV Director of Communications Dave Pinton. The Hard Talk session had 7 panelists from a variety of backgrounds speak to and defend their ‘global ideas’ on the urban food security crisis. With Dave Pinton asking probing questions to each panelist that cut to the thematic tensions of each idea, conversation was provocative, engaging and set the tone for the day to come.
The second session was “Research and Development: The Foundation of Success”. Moderated by keynote speaker Dr. Alex Awiti, the session began with a presentation by BSIA Professor and Director of AFSUN Dr. Jonathan Crush. Dr. Crush presented research on the urban food security crisis in the global south. Following Dr. Crush, Dr. Lena Bloemertz of Basel University presented her research on the water, energy, and food nexus in urban spaces. QEScholars Sierra Nickel, Josh Rempel, and Jeremy Wagner then presented their research on modern food retail procurement practices in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya and discussed the impending implications for food security and food system sustainability in the region. Last, QEScholar Curtis Finley spoke to current and future research being conducted by fellow UFV QEScholars in East Africa.

Image 5: Dr. Jonathan Crush of BSIA presents urban food systems research conducted by AFSUN and the HCP

During lunch, participants had the opportunity to look at a variety of projects to which QEScholars have contributed. A video produced in part by Patricia Magala and QEScholar Jeremy Wagner that promotes urban agriculture in Nairobi City County played as people ate, while an Urban Farmers Handbook and AKF report on the EAI urban food systems project were on display. A child friendly spaces photo exhibition was also on display by the front entrance of the venue.

Following lunch, participants had the choice to attend either “Farming Within an Urban Region: What Roles Should Policy and Planning Play” or “To Partner or Not? Realities and Opportunities of Working in Collaboration”. Dr. Garry Fehr and QEScholar Josh Rempel moderated the former, with representatives from two local municipalities, the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, and an expert on urban agriculture in Nairobi filling the panel discussion. Common themes in promoting and regulating urban agriculture in the Fraser Valley and Nairobi were highlighted in discussion.
“To Partner or Not?” was moderated by Prof. Cherie Enns and QEScholar Lisa Harrington, with QEScholars Aneesha Dylan and Curtis Finlay, Heather Cayoutte of Universities Canada, Dr. Riziki Shemdoe of Ardhi Regional University, Shaheen Nanji of Simon Fraser University, and Peg Peters of Run for Water forming the panel. Conversation highlighted there being immense value in partnerships that allow for international knowledge sharing, students, and non-government organizations, albeit with important ethical issues that must be taken into consideration when working cross-culturally.

Image 6: QEScholars Aneesha and Curtis speak about the importance of international partnerships for undergraduate students

The final session of the day was “Industry and Innovation: Keys to Feeding our Global Community” and was moderated by Dr. Garry Fehr. The panel for this session was a diverse mix of individuals who have experience working on ‘innovative’ food systems projects both locally and globally. The nexus between technology, education, and food systems was thematic in the ideas many panelists presented.

Ultimately, the day brought engaging and cross-cutting discussion surrounding common issues we face globally when planning for urban food security. With so many informed speakers and attendees contributing to the discussion, conversation represented the experiences of an array of stakeholders within our food systems. In the end, the only way we are able to ensure food security for all people is through collaboration and engagement with all corners of the public sphere. At “Cities and Food”, we learned from each other and brought islands of information together to paint a holistic picture of the current state urban food systems and the challenges we collectively need to face when trying to improve them.

Conference Program



8:00 – 8:30 AM

Arrival and Registration

8:30 – 9:45 AM

Welcome Message:

  • Cherie Enns/ Jeremy Wagner

  • Dr. Peter Geller – Acknowledging Traditional Territory

  • (Dar Skype Call) UFV President Dr. Mark Evered

  • Councillor Kelly Chahal

  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Alex Awiti

9:45 – 11:00 AM

Global Ideas ‘Hard Talk’ (3 minutes each)
Moderated by Dave Pinton:

  • Dr. Jonathan Crush (The SDGs: What Happened to Urban Food Security?)

  • Imbenzi George (Global Security)

  • Dr. Garry Fehr (Food Security Vs. Food Sovereignty)

  • Dr. Riziki Shemdoe (Climate Change and Food Security)

  • Vis Naidoo (Technology and Education)

  • Judy Kasiama (Marginalized Populations and Food)

  • Cherie Enns (Land as a Critical Resource)

  • Dr. Peter Geller (Summary)

11:15 – 11:30 AM

Tea/ Coffee

11:30 – 12:30 PM

Research and Development: The Foundation of Success
Moderated by Dr. Alex Awiti

1) Hungry Cities Partnership

  • Dr. Jonathan Crush

2) The Water, Energy, and Food Nexus in Urban Spaces

  • Dr. Lena Bloemertz

3) The UFV East Africa Internship Program

  • Sierra Nickel, Josh Rempel, Jeremy Wagner, and Curtis Finley

12:30 – 1:15 PM

Lunch (Moderated by Lisa Harrington and Patricia Magala)

1:15 – 2:15 PM

Breakout Session 1:

Farming within an Urban Region: What Roles Should Policy and Planning Play

Moderated by Garry Fehr and Josh Rempel

  • Stephen Otieno – Nairobi Urban Agriculture Bill

  • Alison Stewart – FVRD

  • Mark Neill – City of Abbotsford

  • Ministry of Agriculture

Breakout Session 2:

To Partner or Not? Realities and Opportunities of Working in Collaboration

Moderated by Cherie Enns and Lisa Harrington

  • Curtis, Sydney, and Aneesha

  • Heather Cayouette (Queen Elizabeth Scholarships Program)

  • Dr. Riziki Shemdoe (ARU)

  • Shaheen Nanji (SFU International)

  • Peg Peters (Dairy Project in Ethiopia)

2:15 – 2:30 PM

Tea/ Coffee

2:30 – 3:45 PM

Industry and Innovation: Keys to Feeding our Global Community

Moderated by Garry Fehr:

  • Marc Schutzbank (Fresh Roots)

  • Peg Peters (Dairy Project in Ethiopia)

  • Julie Henderson (Eminus Academy - Seed to Market)

  • Weslet Vildort (Haiti)

  • Lissa Goldstein (Sole Food Street Farms)

  • Vis Naidoo (Technology and Education)

  • Imbenzi George (Kenya - Innovation, Technology Transfer, Partnerships)

3:45 – 4:00 PM

Closing Remarks:

  • Dr. Alex Awiti

  • Garry Fehr

  • Cherie Enns

Thank You

A big ‘thank you’ goes out all who participated at the “Cities and Food” field trip and conference. Speakers and attendees brought with them a wealth of knowledge that contributed to engaging and interdisciplinary dialogue and for that we are truly grateful.
We would also like to thank Global Affairs Canada and Aga Khan Foundation Canada for their contributions in funding the East African Institute’s urban food systems project and UFV undergraduate research internships through sub-project 11 of the Institutional Partnership for Human Development. Furthermore, undergraduate research at UFV has been greatly supported by Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation, and the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship program under the funding granted to projects associated to “Urban Food Systems in Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and the Fraser Valley: Capacity Building for Policy and Planning.” This event was also made possible through the collaborative support and help from host institutions Ardhi Regional University and the East African Institute at Aga Khan University, as well as UFV’s Agriculture Centre of Excellence.
In no particular order, we would also like to thank those who contributed to organizing this event:

Patricia Magala (Event Registrar)

QEScholar Josh Rempel (Logistics Coordinator)

QEScholar Curtis Finley (Logistics Coordinator)

QEScholar Aneesha Dhillon (Media Coordinator)

QEScholar Sydney Raison (Media Coordinator)

QEScholar Lisa Harrington (Internship Coordinator)

QEScholar Sierra Nickel (Photographer)

Robin Pittman (IT Support)

Melissa Kendzierski (Graphic Recording)

Last, a special appreciation and thankfulness goes to UFV professor and internship supervisor Cherie Enns, whose passion and dedication towards applied learning and the internationalization of UFV is changing the way we think about an undergraduate education.

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