Backyard Gardening - A viable food production solution for Yellowknife?

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, North Slave Region, South Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, food security, economic feasibility, northern community

Principal Investigator: Lizotte, Amy R (1)
Licence Number: 15112
Organization: Royal Roads University
Licenced Year(s): 2012
Issued: Jul 03, 2012

Objective(s): To identify a practical and tangible solution to localizing Yellowknife food and to empower a slower food movement in Yellowknife; to identify opportunities, challenges, and interests with respect to Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) Farming in Yellowknife; and to explore the complex interrelationships between food, media and society, economy, ecology, culture and sustainability.

Project Description: The research seeks to identify a practical and tangible solution to localizing Yellowknife food and to empower a slower food movement in Yellowknife. The literature review will highlight success stories from NWT’s past and current food initiatives as well as other remote communities’ food successes, while drawing from the experiential knowledge and observations of interviewees. The interviews with stakeholders seek to uncover opportunities, challenges, and interests with respect to SPIN Farming in Yellowknife. The research project will build upon the lessons learned from other non-profit projects, SPIN Farming models, government programs and research at large regarding local food production in northern remote communities. Building on this research and momentum the project will produce current knowledge of local northern food production that demonstrates the interest of the Yellowknife community. The project will produce small scale food production research that is relevant and timely for the business sector, government and non-government organizations and individuals. Finally through the process of collecting the primary and secondary data the research project will uncover the complex interrelationships between food, media and society, economy, ecology, culture and sustainability

This research project will employ a mixed methods approach, where primary research will be coming from three sources: interviews, a follow up focus group and electronic surveys. The primary research will be integrated with the literature review. The interviews are specifically targeting key people from each food system stakeholder group: all levels of government and aboriginal government, food businesses, retailers and producers, the general Yellowknife population living food secure, and specifically Elders/seniors (those who remember Yellowknife's market garden days, or those who have hunted, trapped, harvested and potentially gardened for survival), as well as those living food in-secure. The interviews will take between 1-2 hours and be audio recorded for the purposes of electronic transcription. Of the interviewees, those who are interested will be invited to participate in a follow up focus group. The focus group will take between 2-3 hours to conduct and also be recorded and transcribed for analysis purposes. The focus group will take an Appreciative Inquiry into small scale food production in Yellowknife and SPIN farming potential. An electronic survey will target the broader Yellowknife population and be electronically promoted through social networks, and email distributions. This survey will identify preference for food type and re-sale model, as well as what areas of the city are most willing to backyard share to a SPIN farmer.

In order to develop a sustainable SPIN Farm model for Yellowknife, local people need to be engaged in order to define a local food solution. The research itself will interview 10-15 key stakeholders within Yellowknife's food system with an optional follow up focus group. An electronic survey will target the broader Yellowknife population to gather information on consumer preferences for food type and re-sale models. The electronic survey will also seek to identify how much backyard space could be made available in Yellowknife for SPIN farming. Ultimately the electronic survey provides crucial information for the SPIN farm business case. The research project builds on local efforts currently underway to restore local food production in Yellowknife (and across the NWT). It is targeting the voices, experience, knowledge and also consumer interest across the Yellowknife region in the development of a small scale agricultural food business. The result of the research project provides any interested entrepreneur a free feasibility assessment on a potentially viable small scale business. As the business recommendations are being built off the information shared in local interviews and local surveys, the result will be a socially sustainable approach to a SPIN farming business in addition to assessing the economic profitability.

The results of this study will be made publically available. A summary of the final report will be provided to the media and circulated among all research participants as well as community governments across the NWT and political leaders. The complete version will be available online for downloading and printing. Limited copies of the full final report will be made available.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 3, 2012 to August 31, 2012.