As Quebec’s metropolis grows and flourishes, its food supply faces major and complex challenges that affect its entire population, especially the most vulnerable. The quest for environmental sustainability, the need for greater solidarity and the importance of favouring local production have recently redefined the city’s food landscape. To this end, Collectif Récolte, through its Co-design approach: working together to imagine and consolidate the local, sustainable and solidarity-based food supply cycle, explores the dynamics between the change agents and the imperatives for an equitable and environmentally friendly territorial food system in Montreal.

The SALIM program’s vision for 2050 is that healthy food from local agriculture should be accessible to people experiencing food insecurity in Montreal and, more broadly, to all Montrealers.

Since 2020, SALIM has been working to build and support structuring initiatives in the food cycle, from upstream (sustainable production) to downstream (neighbourhood distribution). The “Working together to imagine and consolidate the local, sustainable and solidarity-based food supply cycle” approach thus seeks to increase efficiency and consolidate the supply cycle for Montreal.

The following progress report represents the discussions, findings and possible solutions put forward by participants at the March 30, 2023, workshop. The aim of this consultation event was to pool participants’ knowledge and needs in order to map existing initiatives, identify the challenges and issues to be resolved, and bring out structuring solutions for a food cycle that meets the needs of its population. In particular, participants were able to identify the synergies or missing links in the current food system that contribute, by their absence, to hindering market access for small-scale producers and access to food for Montreal organizations. A total of 49 participants from 43 organizations across the food cycle were involved in the first meeting.

The objectives of the co-design approach, as described in the report, are as follows:
  • Bring together actors in the food chain from upstream (production and food recovery solutions), in the middle (marketing and processing) and downstream (community organizations and solidarity businesses), to get to know each other better and share their challenges and opportunities;
  • Identify and strengthen synergies between existing initiatives in the local and solidarity food chain; 
  • Innovate and imagine together the missing link(s) that would facilitate access to local food by community organizations and solidarity businesses, in order to offer healthy food to people experiencing food insecurity.

Finally, through a participatory mini-workshop on food access for community organizations, we answered two questions: What means are or could be put in place by Montreal’s food logistics hubs to strengthen access to healthy, local and sustainable food by food security organizations? What solutions/methods could be put in place to facilitate solidarity between organizations and players in the food system?

Four needs were raised in the report: the first identified was the need for mutualization, which was described as advantageous. The second need is for more inclusive consultation. Unsurprisingly, the third need identified was for better financial support. And finally, knowledge transfer – generating new knowledge and repositories together is essential, as is facilitating access to them.

The next step is to imagine concrete solutions to be built or reinforced collectively. The project will focus on pursuing the collective approach on themes of “Regional linkage and synergies between food logistics hubs for local marketing and supply, targeting (among others) community organizations and HRI (B2B)” and “Exploring and innovating in terms of solidarity economy mechanisms and approaches that could be applied between hubs and customer organizations (B2B)”, which directly respond to the initial objective of the co-design approach. The SALIM program has funding available to study the feasibility of a concrete solution and turn it into an implementation plan by the end of the program (end of 2024).

In conclusion, what emerged from this first stage was many potential themes for collective ideation; preliminary ideas for links and linkages to be explored for these different themes; and a strong desire to continue innovating together and building more linkages between the different pieces of the puzzle that is our Montreal food system. Collectif Récolte is committed to continuing the process for themes directly related to its initial objective and invites actors in the Montreal food system to draw inspiration from or pursue collective ideation on other themes, based on a common vision: that of a food system in which local, sustainably produced food is also accessible to the most vulnerable. 

Webinar: Strengths and missing links in local, sustainable and solidarity-based procurement in Montreal: Results and follow-up to the co-design process– a not-to-be-missed event on December 13, from 10:30 a.m. to noon! 

The Conseil du Système alimentaire Montréalais (CSAM)’s Espace cuisine pour la sécurité alimentaire and Collectif Récolte are continuing their collaboration to present you with the highlights of the first stage of the co-design process undertaken as part of the Local and Integrated Food System in Montreal (SALIM) program.

Join us to reflect on the results of the process and learn more about this crucial subject for the development of our Montreal food system. Share this invitation with your partners and colleagues!  

This project is part of the SALIM program, a multi-partner project run by Collectif Récolte as part of Montreal in Common. SALIM provides support and collective solutions to Montreal’s local food supply network. Montreal in Common is an innovation community led by the City of Montréal and funded by the Government of Canada as part of the Smart Cities Challenge.

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