Creating a local food procurement community of practice: The Alberta Flavour Learning Lab


  • Mary Anne Beckie University of Alberta
  • Leanne Hedberg University of Alberta
  • Jessie Radies Northlands Agriculture Society



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.  

Author Biographies

Mary Anne Beckie, University of Alberta

Associate Professor, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta

Leanne Hedberg, University of Alberta

PhD candidate, Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta

Jessie Radies, Northlands Agriculture Society

Director of Agriculture, Northlands Agriculture Society




How to Cite

Beckie, M. A., Hedberg, L., & Radies, J. (2019). Creating a local food procurement community of practice: The Alberta Flavour Learning Lab. Canadian Food Studies La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 6(1), 155–169.



Field Report or Narrative