Locally Grown Food for the Northern Urban Marketplace (2012)

The research study surveys the propensity and capacity for Sault Ste. Marie food businesses to purchase local food. The research project is aimed at building relationships between local farmers and businesses in the food sector through education. Read more

Local food in this study is defined as food that has been harvested or produced in Algoma District. Edith Orr, manager of the Johnson Township Farmers’ Market, approached David Thompson and Nairne Cameron in October 2011 with an interest in examining the flow of local food into the Sault Ste. Marie marketplace. Edith Orr is part of the Algoma Food Network; a network of farmers, food related businesses, consumers and non-profit organizations in Algoma District.

The goals of this project include the following:

  • Identify the number of food businesses in Sault Ste. Marie that source local food and the intensity at which they purchase local food.
  • Determine the food preferences and capacity of food businesses in Sault Ste. Marie to purchase different varieties of local food
  • Identify the challenges and opportunities for Sault Ste. Marie businesses in sourcing local food
  • Map and spatially analyze the locations of Sault Ste. Marie food businesses that source local food using Geographic Information System (GIS) software, including in relation to demographic characteristics of Sault Ste. Marie’s population
  • Map and spatially analyze additional factors of food sourcing; including storage, purchasing and intensity, in an aggregate format using GIS software
  • Educate consumers, business owners and the farming community through the display of generated GIS maps at various events in 2012

The preferences of businesses will be identified through a survey. This method will engage a variety of stakeholders that include butcher shops, restaurants, food retailers, health food stores and caterers. A literature review will assist the research process in developing survey questions. The literature review will explore concepts such as sustainable food systems and relationship marketing.

This research project builds on NORDIK Institute’s previous work around food security and food sovereignty through the Algoma Food Network, Penokean Hills Farms, and the Rural Agri-Food Innovation Network in partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. NORDIK has explored the socio-economic impacts of locally produced and marketed agricultural products through the development of business and marketing plans.

A completed version of the map highlighting retailers offering local food can be found here.