F9B Blog


Farming is often a family business, which can make it difficult for new farmers to establish themselves. What does this mean in Canadian agriculture, where a majority of the farming community is white? A member of our research team, Abdul-Rahim Abdulai, recently shared his experience with being a Black farmer in Canada and how diversity is the key to success for the industry in this article from the Globe & Mail. 


Read the article here



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With the global pandemic continuing to cause uncertainties in our food systems, interest in developing stronger and more sustainable local food systems is on the rise. By reducing transportation and preservation needs, local food systems can be better for the environment and more resilient to supply chain disruptions. They also have the potential to increase our sense of connection to the food we eat and they ways it's produced. Guest blogger Sarina Perchak, Land-Based Education Coordinator from White Owl Native Ancestry Association, helps us understand the importance of this idea from an Indigenous point of view.


Indigenous Land-Based Learning:

Nourishing Body and Spirit

By Sarina Perchak


     In many Indigenous teachings and related agreements with the Land, individuals are taught to uphold their part to give life to all life. To support all living things on their respective journeys, to take only what one needs, and to give back to others the gifts that one receives from Mother Earth. These are the very principles that we at Wisahkotewinowak [wisahk-toe-win-no-walk] aim to accomplish in every minute of work that we do. We believe the Land provides a place for community and a sense of belonging. We aim to nurture Land-based relationships to strengthen local food sovereignty and urban Indigenous food environments. We strive to do this work in a good way, upholding our responsibility to All Our Relations.


     We are an urban Indigenous garden collective working in the Waterloo and Wellington regions. Together we are made up of Indigenous and settler ally gardeners, academics, teachers, students, and life-long learners. We pull our strength from the large network of those involved in our work and the passion that burns within the people responsible for our operation. We remind ourselves of this strength when we recount the meaning behind our name: the first green shoots that come up from Mother Earth after a fire has gone through the Land. Just like the tiny shoots that we are proud to emulate, we push through the colonial soil to assert our presence in an ever tumultuous world. We mirror and honour the resiliency of our relations.


A circular urban garden with an x-shaped path cutting through it


     In order to do this, we care for and work in harmony with the Land at four garden locations. We work with our Produce Garden at the University of Waterloo Environmental Reserve that was established in 2019; our Three Sisters Garden at Steckle Heritage Farm in Kitchener that was established in 2017; our Teaching Garden at the Blair Outdoor Education Centre in Cambridge that was established in 2019; and our Tea Garden in the University of Guelph’s Arboretum that was established in 2018. It is with the help of these pieces of Land that we are able to share and grow in the work that we do to uphold our responsibility to support all life in each other, the community and the world around us. Reciprocity is at the heart of these continued interactions.


     Not only do these spaces allow Indigenous peoples to actively learn and be in relation with food and the Land in a safe environment, but they provide valuable foods and medicines for the community members in the Waterloo Region in association with White Owl Native Ancestry Association. Since August 5th we have taken what the gardens have given us and placed them in boxes to give to Indigenous families that have voiced interest in receiving them. In the 15 weeks since that first distribution day, we have been able to give food to 35 different households. This translates to approximately 275 mouths and over one tonne (2200 pounds) of food. Boxes have included turnips, tomatoes, squash varieties, corn, tobacco, onions, sweetgrass, and kale; just to name a few. Now that harvest season is over and all that remains in our gardens is resilient kale, we have begun to source out local foods to purchase for food distributing. Community partners such as the SEED in Guelph and the Golden Hearth Bakery in Kitchener have made this transition as smooth as possible, enabling us to continue our work to fight for food justice and security for Indigenous peoples into the colder months of the year.


An Indigenous community food box filled with various fruits and vegetables from White Owl Native Ancestry


     This is only one side of our food work, however. In addition to building an increased sense of food security for those in our region, our work with the Land and food provision is equally about community-building. Especially in times of limited contact, weekly food distribution and socially-distanced volunteer days in the gardens have been a much needed time of interaction and connection for a spiritually deprived people. Thus, we are not only nourishing bodies in our work but nourishing spirits as well. In fact, one is inherent to the other; you cannot be truly full if your soul is lacking sustenance. We recognize this and work to continually acknowledge food and food work as an immensely important part of our relations. Every day we continue to learn and grow in our work, and continue to strive to live life in a good way that supports all other life. We welcome anyone who shares in this passion.


To learn about volunteer opportunities, join the Wisahkotewinowak newsletter by sending an email to wisahkotewinowak@gmail.com. 


Follow Wisahkotewinowak and White Owl for more information about the educational materials and events they offer:


Wisahkotewinowak Instagram


White Owl Instagram


White Owl Facebook



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This week we celebrate Ontario's 22nd Agriculture Week! With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this is a great opportunity to take a moment to appreciate our hardworking farmers and get in touch with where our food comes from.


A variety of foods produced in Ontario forming a heart for Ontario Agriculture Week


How can you participate?


  • Learn more about agriculture with AgScape's educational resources for elementary (grades 1-8) and secondary (grades 9-12) students, including some Thanksgiving-themed escape rooms


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Are you interested in using the emotional connection of art to raise awareness of environmental and societal issues?


     The Feeding 9 Billion initiative is devoted to educating youth about the challenges of sustainably, equitably, and nutritiously feeding the world’s growing population while dealing with climate change. We are currently looking for artists to create digital illustrations for our latest educational tools. We are interested in supporting and showcasing different artists and styles of art, and are offering three separate contracts as described below:


1. An audio drama about a global food security crisis, where a world experiencing severe climate change attempts to adapt by exploring alternate food production strategies. The Haven Project, an oasis in this wasteland, keeps its citizens well-fed with well-kept proprietary technologies. The audio drama follows the citizens of Haven, as they fight to keep their world protected, and struggle with the implications of ignoring those outside their walls.

  • Required: one website banner (2000 x 500px) and one podcast icon (min. 1400 x 1400px)

2. An informative podcast with background information on the topics explored in the audio drama above. Topics range from world issues and social factors that could lead to a food crisis, to potential solutions or methods to avoid a food crisis. Each episode will attempt to illuminate different viewpoints on an issue, challenging students to think critically about food security.

  • Required: one website banner (2000 x 500px) and one podcast icon (min. 1400 x 1400px)

3. A role playing game exploring the environmental, financial, and social aspects of agriculture. Students will become members of farming families; starting out as subsistence farmers, they will work to feed their families and make decisions to upgrade their farms with industrial or agro-ecological technologies, all while dealing with global climate change events.

  • Required: one website banner (2000 x 500px) and a one-page cover illustration for the digital rulebook


How to Apply


If you are interested in this opportunity, please send a proposal including the following information to rachell@uoguelph.ca:


  • Your full name (feel free to tell us a bit about yourself!)
  • Preferred method of contact
  • Two to three samples of your work (digital art or photography preferred)
  • A quick concept sketch or descriptive proposal of your idea (including which contract you are interested in)


Deadline: Friday, May 29th


     Feeding 9 Billion will offer a commission for each selected project, to be negotiated by the artist and our leadership team. Please feel free to get in touch at the email above if you have any questions!


Feeding 9 Billion is based out of the University of Guelph, where fostering a culture of inclusion is an institutional imperative. We invite and encourage applications from all qualified individuals, including from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in employment, who may contribute to further diversification of our Institution.

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     Scrolling through social media these days can make it seem like everyone is at home learning new recipes and baking bread from scratch with their families. What it fails to show is the effect of the pandemic on those that are or may become food insecure, those that do not have a good relationship with food, and those that do not know where to start. With our current schedules and habits in disarray, it can be hard to maintain a consistent and balanced diet. Whether reduced income or lack of income is making it hard to purchase healthy food, fear of going out to the grocery store is looming, or anxiety eating is creeping in, you can be sure of one thing, you are not alone.


     Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is extremely important but not always possible, especially while following physical distancing recommendations. Reach out to those who can not only help with accessing nutritious food options, but also those that can contribute to a positive food environment for you. Many dieticians and councillors can work virtually with you, your skills and what you have available to help you through this uncertain time. Listening to your body's natural cues and looking for supports that can help you develop healthy eating habits is an important way to practice self-care and improve your relationship with food right now.


Local resources have been provided below for those in need of food or support:


Food Delivery Services: https://guelphcoronavirus.ca/order-food/


University Wellness: https://wellness.uoguelph.ca/services/health-services/all-health-services/dietitian-services


Counselling Services (online): https://wellness.uoguelph.ca/counselling/




If you are interested in a fun way to learn about food security, or just a way to connect with those around you this weekend, the Feeding 9 Billion Card Game is now availble in a Print and Play version!

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     With the widespread continuation of social distancing recommendations, we realize that it is difficult for classrooms to share resources among students. That's why we've been working toward making our learning tools available online, starting with our graphic novel, #foodcrisis.


     This depiction of a world that has experienced a major drought explores the politics, science, and ethical questions that surround an international event of this magnitude. The story is based on historical events that have caused disruptions to our food systems, like the Dust Bowl and the Great Irish Potato Famine, and is supported by 13 background essays on the research that went into writing the novel. At the same time unsettling and somewhat reassuring, the plot draws connections to current events while championing the resiliency of the human spirit that has helped us push through in challenging times. What lessons can be learned from food crises of the past, and what can we learn from our situation now?


Download a pdf copy of #foodcrisis


Coming Soon


     We are working to make even more of our resources available online in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for a printable version of our card game, as well as two new podcast series! If you would like to be notified when new resources are released, we welcome you to join our mailing list below:


Join our mailing list


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The Arrell Food Institute and the Food from Thought initiative at the University of Guelph invited a panel of experts to discuss questions from the community surrounding what COVID-19 might mean for food access, safety, security, and supply. What can we learn from this pandemic, and how can we use it to improve our food systems in the future? Follow the link below to watch this forward-thinking conversation, and add your own questions for future discussions!


a link to the Arrell Food Institute's webinar on what we can learn from COVID-19

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     COVID-19 is causing rapid changes in our world. The new reality of social distancing has led us to adapt in major ways - from moving work and education to the home, to cancelling major in-person events like graduations. Amid worrying reports of bare shelves at grocery stores, researchers at Feeding 9 Billion and the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph have been working hard to understand what this means for the bigger picture of our food system.


     Canada is lucky to have a robust food supply chain, with actors that are used to dealing with uncertainty, especially in the produce sector. In addition, unlike some past food crises which have been exacerbated by natural disasters, COVID-19 is unlikely to have as large of an effect on the logistics of the system. Although increasing uncertainty has caused many of us to stock our home pantries and shelves with a little extra, demand in general has not increased, and stores are likely to recover from the initial shock in the near future. This does, however, give us the chance to re-evaluate our current system through a new lens. Experts expect that issues arising from reliance on seasonal migrant workers and just-in-time shipments to fill grocery store shelves could lead to a movement to increase regional resiliency by investing in local producers and supply chains.


What can you do?


     Did you know that almost half of all food waste occurs in the home? Making the most of the food we buy can go a long way toward delaying that next trip out and reducing contact with others. The "Rock What You've Got: Recipes for Preventing Food Waste" cookbook, published by the Guelph Family Health Study, is a great free resource to help you reduce waste. The book has lots of helpful tips, including how to plan meals before you go shopping, how best to store food to keep it fresh, and ideas for using food before it spoils. It's also chock full of recipes that help eliminate food waste by planning ways to use leftovers, offering lots of ingredient options to make use of whatever you have, and fully using ingredients so there are less stragglers in your fridge. Why not take a look, and try making your next shopping trip last longer?


rock what you've got cookbook cover page


     If you're interested in more ways to learn about food waste in your home or classroom, a home food waste audit can be a fun hands-on way to explore the topic.

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The LINK Project is an exciting new interdisciplinary program that seeks to apply machine learning techniques to research in agriculture and food. The project aims to support critical issues around human health and a sustainable food supply.



The call for applications is now open!



This opportunity welcomes proposals from Canadian graduate students for 4-month projects connecting agriculture and food with artificial intelligence. Graduate students in AI are also invited to apply for Machine Learning Scientist positions, to be paired with the selected projects. Follow the link above for more information on how to apply!


Interested, but not quite sure how to frame your question to use AI? Take a look at this quick introduction to AI concepts.

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Listen to a review of the year's hottest topics on the FoodFarm Talk radio program, hosted by Feeding 9 Billion's Abdul-Rahim Abdulai and Emily Duncan.



Which agri-food issues made headlines in 2019?


FoodFarm Talk is an interactive program on food and farming that builds on the diverse research at the University of Guelph and the strong Ontario agri-food community, to inform listeners some of the wonderful work being done from farm to fork. The program celebrates the people, research, and work that shape the food we eat. Broadcast on radio Thursday 10:00 am on CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph, ON, Canada, live on www.cfru.ca or podcast on Anchor, Spotify, Apple podcasts and Google Podcasts. Produced by Abdul-Rahim Abdulai, Emily Duncan, Paul Smith and Cameron Ogilvie.

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