Special Programs

    Food Ecosystems Project

    As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and look ahead to a future with climate disruptions, social unrest, and supply chain challenges, Manitoba’s most complex economic challenges are put into sharp perspective, highlighting the need for mobile, adaptable and innovative approaches to economic development.  In partnership with Food and Beverage Manitoba, Community Futures Manitoba and Fireweed Food Co-op, the Food Ecosystems Project will determine how Manitoba’s food and agriculture industry — from entrepreneurs such as growers to processors, to retailers and end-users — can contribute to more resilient rural economies, strengthen our collective capacity and weather future crises. By engaging an array of stakeholders, we will identify opportunities, gaps and solutions to grow this vital sector.

    Following an initial Environmental Scan, the Food Ecosystems Project will focus on the exploration and mobilization of Food and Farming Incubation and Innovation Hubs. We envision the creation a centralized Hub connected to many different spokes, or a series of smaller interconnected hubs, that bring together early stage entrepreneurs, local artisans, growers, fishers and ranchers. It will house wrap-around services that can assist these stakeholders to navigate the unique product development and commercialization, marketing, regulatory and financing environments characteristic of the food and agriculture sector. The vision is to use these hubs to provide shared access to costly equipment, mentorship and business development expertise, storage facilities and processing capabilities to enable smart risk taking and innovation within a supportive, adaptable environment. This model strives to take a forward-looking, community-driven, partnership-centric approach that mobilizes existing assets, avoids duplication and enhances the resiliency and capacity of Manitoba’s food ecosystem.

    Our networked and community asset based approach to supporting entrepreneurs will allow us to create relevant toolkits, targeted training, and support communities in developing robust metrics of success that may include goals such as local food security, mechanisms to encourage youth to remain within their community, and/or diversifying an income stream for a farmer or household. Especially when it comes to Northern communities that suffer from high rates of food insecurity, we know the value of micro-enterprises in creating supplemental income, encouraging community food security projects, and helping inspire entry into the food and beverage manufacturing sector from diverse and underrepresented candidates. A singular focus on export markets, revenue growth, and FTE jobs can easily miss equally important outcomes. While hubs and spokes will share certain common metrics, this project aims to help communities identify what success looks like for them.

     

    The project was initiated in mid-April and progress to date has included:
    1. The organization of asset mapping sessions in Winnipeg, Stonewall, Gimli and Arborg. Asset mapping sessions in northern Manitoba, Brandon /Neepawa area (Westman region), Portage la Prairie area (Heartland region) and Southeast Manitoba (Triple R region) will be underway soon. 
    2. The initiation of a comprehensive Environmental Scan of Manitoba, Canadian and key international Food Development Centres, Food Hubs, Culinary Centres and Community Kitchens, including both public and private infrastructure and capacity. Both primary (interviews and surveys) and secondary (online searches) sources of information will be used to develop the Scan. This report will inform the project as to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats inherent in the Manitoba sector, and hopes to inform future government investments in infrastructure and services. 

     

    To learn more or attend a session, contact Katie Daman, Project Manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.