Creating a local food procurement community of practice: The Alberta Flavour Learning Lab
Keywords:Institutional procurement, local food, community of practice, social infrastructure
In order for local food initiatives (LFIs) to have a transformative effect on the larger food system, greater levels of economic, organizational and physical scale are needed. One way for LFIs to reach the scale necessary to generate a more significant impact is through increased institutional procurement of local foods. But how do people and organizations come together to generate the social infrastructure required to shift food purchasing practices and processes? This field report shares the story of an innovative community of practice consisting of institutional food buyers, large-scale distributors, regional retailers, processors, producers, researchers, municipal and provincial government representatives within the Edmonton city-region that formed for the express purpose of “creating a positive community impact by getting more local foods on more local plates”. In describing the formation and first three years of the Alberta Flavour Learning Lab we examine the unique characteristics of this community of practice that has aided the development of a common framework for learning, understanding and joint action. In addition to the accomplishments to date, we also discuss the challenges faced by the Learning Lab and the strategies used to overcome them.
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