Program Archive

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Program Archive

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Saturday, May 25th

Registration and refreshments 
8:00 am  – Centre for Social Innovation – Annex

8:30 am – Annex Theatre

Capital, Control, Success and Stewardship in our Food System 
8:40 am – 10:00 pm  – Annex Theatre

Moderator – Abra Brynne, Sustainable Food Systems and Policy Lead, Food Secure Canada

    • Tasha Sutcliffe, Vice President/Program Director, Fisheries and Marine, EcoTrust – Capital and Control in Fisheries
    • Melanie Sommerville, PhD Student, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia – Finance, farmland and investing in Canada. Summary: Rising financial investment in Canada’s agri-food sector in the last decade has important implications for sector participants. Sustainable food systems need a more sustainable model of finance.
    • Ralph Martin, Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, University of Guelph – Linking Soil Quality to Economic Incentives. Summary: A consideration of how soil organic matter (SOM) can be maintained or improved by linking periodic measurements to economic incentives for farmers. Similarly, the reduction of synthetic nitrogen use could be linked to economic incentives.
    • Kathleen Gibson, Principal, GBH Consulting Group Ltd. – Local meat processing: what works, what doesn’t and why. Summary: Lessons learned from a decade of working with provincially licensed meat processing facilities in British Columbia.

10:00 am – 10:30 am – Break (CSI-Annex)

Partnering with Private and Institutional Investors
10:30 am – 12:00 pm  – Annex Theatre

Moderator – Beth Hunter, Senior Program Officer, J.W. McConnell Foundation. Presentation summary: A brief review of social finance and impact investing and its use by foundations including the McConnell Foundation.

  • Gray Harris, Director, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Coastal Enterprises Inc. – Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at CEI. Summary: A review of CEI programs, including its goals, impact and examples.
  • Phoebe Higgins, Director, California Fisheries Fund, Environmental Defense Fund – California Fisheries Fund. Summary: A review of the CFF investment strategy and consideration of new opportunities.
  • Paul Lecomte, General Director, FIRA Fund. Summary: A review of the Alternative Quebec Agricultural Youth Fund providing business start-up, alternative financial solutions and venture capital.
  • Michael Curry, Managing Partner, Investeco Capital – Investing in Canadian sustainable agriculture companies. Summary: A review of Investeco’s Sustainable Food Fund, including its partners, strategy, benefits, examples and trends.

12:00 – 1:00 pm – Lunch (CSI-Annex)

Community Finance Initiatives for  Food and Farms 
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm – Annex Theatre

Moderator:  Karine Jaouich, Director of Finance and Operations, Centre for Social Innovation

  • Linda Best, Secretary, Farmworks Investment Co-operative Ltd. – Farmworks: Investing in sustainable food for Nova Scotians. Summary: The context and review of Nova Scotia’s Community Economic Development Investment Funds (CEDIFs). An example of the Farmworks CEDIF is given and its transferability to other communities.
  • Ruth Klahsen, Owner/Lead Cheesemaker, Monforte Dairy. Summary: A discussion of Monforte Dairy, including its campaign for customers to buy futures in Klahsen’s cheese to help finance the dairy.
  • David Miller, Co-Founder/CEO, Iroquois Valley Farms – Sustainable farmland investing for the next generation of farmers. Summary: A review of Iroquois Valley Farms, the first U.S. private company to connect investors with organic farmland and family farmers.
  • Tom Manley, Owner, Homestead Organics – Growing an under-capitalized business with community support. Summary: A discussion of the growth and expansion program of Homestead Organics, an organic grain processor and farm supply business that has drawn on a variety of financing tools.

Lessons from other Social Finance Sectors
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm – Annex Theatre

Moderator –  Joanna Reynolds, Manager, Education and Engagement, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing
(Discussion format – no individual presentations)

  • Michael Shuman, Co-Founder/Research Director, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
  • François Vermette, Development Coordinator, Chantier de l’économie sociale
  • Adam Spence, Manager, Special Projects, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing & Social Venture Exchange
  • Karine Jaouich, Director of Operations, Centre for Social Innovation

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm  – Break  (CSI-Annex)

The Fishbowl: A focus on farms and fish initiatives 
4:00 pm -5:00 pm – Annex Theatre

      • Jordan Nikoloyuk, Sustainable Fisheries Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre – Financing Community Access to Atlantic Fisheries. Summary: A discussion of fisheries in Atlantic Canada, including problems, solutions like license banks and loan funds, and fisheries initiatives of the Ecology Action Centre.
      • Christie Young, Executive Director, Farmstart – Farmland Financing. Summary: The challenges of farmland transfer and discussion of Farmstart’s farm community revitalization efforts and necessary enabling tools. The presentation includes a feasibility assessment of two models for farmland financing: community financed farms and a Farmland Futures Equity Fund.

5:00 pm -6:30 pm Reception and Discussion (CSI-Annex)

Michael Shuman keynote lecture: 
Local Dollars, Local Sense:  12 Cutting-Edge Tools to Finance the Local Food Revolution
7:00 pm –  Innis Town Hall

See below for a description of Michael Shuman’s lecture.


Sunday, May 26

Registration and refreshments
8:30 am – Centre for Social Innovation – Annex

Focused Discussion
9:00 am – 1:00 pm – Centre for Social Innovation – Annex

Focus Areas:

  • Processing and Value Chains
  • Engaging Communities
  • Slow Money and Leadership
  • Farmland and Fisheries Resources/Property

Speakers & Panelists

Keynote | Panelists

Keynote: Michael Shuman

Michael Shuman

Description of lecture:

More local food means more wealth, jobs, and tax revenues; better ecosystems and smaller carbon footprints; and less obesity and diabetes.  But to spread, food localization must overcome obstacles like scarce land, aging farmers, and obsolete small-business models.  Above all, argues author Michael Shuman, the local food revolution requires a local capital revolution.  Drawing from his recent book, Local Dollars, Local Sense, Shuman shows how to use a variety of cutting-edge tools to finance local food businesses, including: targeted bank deposits, cooperatives, LION clubs, peer-to-peer lending, donation sites like Kickstarter, local stock, community portals, investment clubs, and self-directed RRSPs.


Michael Shuman is director of research for Cutting Edge Capital, director of research and economic development at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), and a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute. He holds an AB with distinction in economics and international relations from Stanford University and a JD from Stanford Law School. He has led community-based economic-development efforts across the country and has authored or edited seven previous books, including The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (2006), Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in the Global Age (1998) and Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity (2012).


Abra Brynne

Bio: Abra Brynne joined Food Secure Canada as its food systems and policy lead in October 2012. Prior to joining FSC, she worked as an agriculture and food systems consultant, in close collaboration with farmers and others food producers for more than two decades. She focuses on market access and the regulatory regimes that impact agriculture. Abra also has extensive experience with environmental and social standards and certification systems as they relate to food production. Over the past twenty-two years she has been involved with one of North America’s most successful natural foods co-op, allowing her to develop an intimate understanding of alternative markets, consumers, producers and distribution systems. From 2006 to 2012, Abra worked to mitigate the impacts of regulatory changes on small-scale slaughterhouses in BC, developing an intimate understanding of the impacts that silos and multi-level governance have on food producers.

Tasha Sutcliffe

Tasha Sutcliffe is the Vice President of Ecotrust Canada (EC), formerly the Fisheries Program Director.  EC’s fisheries work focuses on building sustainable fisheries in coastal communities; fisheries that are economically viable, equitable, and environmentally responsible. Tasha has an extensive background in fisheries, community economic development, and ecosystem based management. Prior to joining Ecotrust Canada, she helped form, and spent nine years as Program Director for, the Community Fisheries Development Centre in Prince Rupert, BC. Here, she worked with First Nations, Governments, community organizations, businesses, and industry to develop programs supporting communities impacted by the downturn of fisheries.

Melanie Summerville

Panel description: This presentation examines shifting patterns of investment and the growing involvement of ‘mainstream’ finance in Canadian farmland and farming systems. It examines the different factors underpinning these trends, and considers the implications for smaller and mid-sized producers, the future of Canadian agri-food systems, and the possibilities for social finance and impact investing in the sector.

Bio: Melanie Sommerville is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia. Her research examines the financialization of agricultural systems, focusing in particular on Canada and South Africa. Melanie has a background in agricultural policy analysis and program development, including through past positions with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, the Canadian Organic Growers, and the International Development Research Centre. She is an active member of the British Columbia Food Systems Network and the Canadian Association of Food Studies, and served in the past as a co-chair of LifeCycles Project Society.

Ralph Martin

Panel description: Ralph will explore the value of soil organic matter (SOM), how to measure SOM and how to link SOM levels to crop insurance premiums.  Crop rotation complexity and the revised universal soil loss equation will also be considered.

Bio: Ralph C. Martin grew up on a beef and hog farm in Wallenstein, ON. He learned what is essential about agriculture from his grandfather, before he died when Ralph was seven. After 4-H, his formal education includes, a B.A. and an M.Sc. in Biology from Carleton University and a Ph.D. in Plant Science from McGill University.  His love of teaching grew unexpectedly when he began teaching at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, in 1990, and realized how students teach him too.  In 2001, he founded the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada to coordinate university research and education pertaining to organic systems, across Canada . In 2011, he was appointed as Professor and the Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production at the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph.

Kathleen Gibson 

Panel description: Kathleen will discuss lessons learned from abattoir operators who applied for licensing under BC’s Meat Inspection Regulation between 2005 and 2012.  Certain types of operation hold more promise for success and sustainability than others.

Bio: Kathleen is a food systems specialist and policy analyst based in Victoria, BC.  She worked for BC farmers in the 1980s and now develops and works on sustainable agriculture and food security projects locally, provincially and nationally, with a particular focus on public policy.  Kathleen has worked on policy and law reform for sustainable food systems in BC and on reform of supply management in BC to facilitate more new entrants and specialty production.  From 2005-12 Kathleen helped lead two projects related to provincial licensing of abattoirs in BC.  One assisted proponents with the licensing process and one provided financial assistance for licensing.  Managing a team of consultants working through the BC Food Processors Association, Kathleen was the lead food processing industry representative working with the Province on implementation of meat licensing and inspection policy.

Phoebe Higgins

Panel description: The California Fisheries Fund (CFF) makes loans to commercial fishermen in order to help them succeed in fisheries that achieve environmental conservation, improved profitability for the industry and stability for port communities. CFF Director Phoebe Higgins will discuss the fund’s history as a public/private/nonprofit initiative and share top lessons learned since the program launched in 2008.

Bio: Phoebe Higgins joined Environmental Defense Fund’s California Fisheries Fund in 2008. She manages the Fund’s portfolio and assists borrowers throughout the lending process. Prior to working at EDF, Phoebe served as the Sustainable Programs Director at Community Bank of the Bay in Oakland, California, where she was responsible for making loans to green businesses and environmental nonprofit organizations. Phoebe also has several years’ experience as a community organizer focusing on social justice issues such as affordable housing, equity in education and voter participation. Phoebe holds a BA in Russian Studies from Carleton College and an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise from the Green MBA program at Dominican University of California.

Paul Lecomte

Paul Lecomte is an agronomist and Director General of the FONDS D’INVESTISSEMENT POUR LA RELÈVE AGRICOLE (FIRA) [Young Farmer’s Investment Fund]. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy from the Université Laval, Mr. Lecomte has extensive experience in the agricultural and agri-food sectors. He has been Director General of the Fonds d’investissement pour la relève agricole since it was started in 2011. Mr. Lecomte was also the Director of Agricultural and Agri-Food Accounts for Farm Credit Canada, and the Senior Director – Agricultural Market at the Desjardins Business Finance Centre for the South Shore and Senior Director for Business Development at the Desjardins Business Finance Centre Bécancour Nicolet Yamaska.

Gray Harris

Bio: Gray Harris is the Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at Coastal Enterprises, Inc (CEI), a CDFI in rural Maine. Gray supervises all work in CEI’s agriculture and food system program and is responsible for the management, development and deployment of Sustainable Agriculture Investment Funds and Healthy Food Finance Funds. In her role, she assesses sector needs and identifies sources of specialized technical assistance and financing for agricultural and food system start-up and expanding businesses, and sources and aligns investment-ready projects with CEI lending and investment staff. Gray is a former director of the Maine state Farms for the Future program, a statewide business planning and grants program for Maine farmers. She is engaged in state, regional, and national agriculture and food system initiatives and networks.

Michael Curry

Michael joined the Investeco team in 2002.  His primary role is in identifying and analyzing new investment opportunities.  He served as Vice Chair of the board of Organic Meadow and sat on the audit committee for 5 years. Michael also sits on the boards of Rowe Farms, The STOP Community Food Centre, Trees Ontario and as an observer on investee company GeoDigital.  Previously, Michael was co-owner/operator of a successful building materials distribution company and spent seven years in the Canadian reforestation industry. Michael became focused on the environmental economy in 2001 when he began researching environmental companies for the E2 Venture Fund.

Linda Best

Bio: Linda Best grew up on a farm in the Annapolis Valley, graduated Acadia University, worked at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital as a Medical Microbiologist, Gastroenterology Researcher and author, and served as Director of the Capital District Health Authority. She operated Alderbrook apple orchard, founded Frame Plus Art (three stores, a production facility and 10 employees), and served as a Director of Sutton Gardens Condominium Corporation. Awareness of food-related health issues led to research into potential solutions for the decreasing production of food in Nova Scotia. She helped establish Friends of Agriculture and the Nova Scotia Food Policy Council. She is a founding member and Secretary of FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited, a Community Economic Development Investment Co-operative that provides funding for farmers and food producers across Nova Scotia.

Tom Manley

Bio: Tom Manley grew up on the family dairy farm, obtained a BSC in Computer Science at the Collège Militaire Royal in St-Jean, Québec. At Bell Canada in 1995, he was the project leader for the development and launch of the Bell Sympatico Internet Service. Tom chairs the Eco Farm Day annual organic farming conference in Cornwall ON and chairs the community advisory committee of Alfred Campus with the University of Guelph. In 2011, Tom received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Organic Council of Ontario. Tom is the owner of Homestead Organics, established in 1988, which has practiced Slow Money principles since 1999 to address its needs for capital with a current group of 38 financial supporters.

David Miller 

Bio: Rooted by heritage in Iroquois County, Illinois, Mr. Miller returned to his native farmland as an investor in 2005 after a 30 year career in banking and real estate financial management. Purchasing a small 10 acre family farmstead, he re-connected with local relatives farming organically. In 2007 he started Iroquois Valley Farms LLC by connecting a small group of family and friends to a 142 acre farm. Prior to seeding sustainable farmland ventures, Mr. Miller held executive positions at Bank of America, Santa Fe Southern Pacific and First Chicago Corporation. His extensive experience in  structuring alternative real estate investments led to the formation of Iroquois Valley Farms, the first private company in the United States to connect investors with organic farmland and family farmers. An MBA graduate of Columbia University’s School of Business and 1975 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, Mr. Miller views education as the primary key to changing the nature and health of our current food production system. Mr. Miller resides in Winnetka, IL. along with his wife and  three children.

François Vermette

Bio: François Vermette is Development  Director of the Chantier de l’économie sociale du Québec . He holds a Masters degree in urban studies from University of Montreal and his thesis was centered on housing issues. Until last December he was Executive Director of the Quebec network of non-profit housing corporations, a position held since 2003 and was on the Chantier’s Board of Directors for that organisation.

He has worked with many community organizations on the problems around community-based housing. He worked with a community consultation group in the south-central area of Montreal (Alerte Centre-Sud), and then spent time working for Vélo-Québec as Development Coordinator. François is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Réseau de l’investissement social du Québec and on a Community Housing Fund of patient capital. He also sits on the Board of the Candadian Housing and Renewal Association where he serve as Treasurer.

Adam Spence

Bio: Adam Spence is the Founder of the SVX and Manager at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing.  For over ten years, Adam has focused his work on driving social, economic, and environmental justice through community development, education, social innovation, and public policy change as an advocate, researcher, and social entrepreneur.  At MaRS, Adam helped found the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing and the School for Social Entrepreneurs – Ontario. He was Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) for five years, a community animator for the skilled trades in Hamilton, and led the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA).  In these positions, he successfully grew revenues, developed enterprise programs, and successfully advocated for public policy change including low-income grants for post-secondary students and Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.  In 2002, Adam was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Gold Medal, and in 2012 Adam was named one of McMaster University’s 125 People of Impact, an honour given to McMaster staff and alumni who have made the greatest impact over the past 125 years.

Karine Jaouich

Bio: Karine Jaouich is the Director of Finance and Operations at the Centre for Social Innovation. She has been working in operational roles with non-profit organizations to support organizations especially during periods of change. She started at CSI when the second location in Toronto was being purchased and developed.  She played a role is rolling out the Community Bond and is helping to create the systems, policies and procedures to support our staff team and the hundreds of members in our community. Karine also played a similar role at Local Food Plus and FoodShare. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Guelph.

Christie Young

Christie is the Founder and Executive Director of FarmStart. She has extensive experience in program initiation and development, fund raising and coalition building. She also has experience and wide networks in both agriculture and the community food security sector. Christie has had the privilege to work with farmers and farm leaders on and off farms in several countries. She also worked with the Peoples Potato in Montreal and with FoodShare in Toronto.  She was a founding Board member of Local Food Plus,  and a founding steering committee member of Sustain Ontario.  Christie is currently working with Food Secure Canada and partners across the country in the National New Farmers Initiative.  Christie balances her time at FarmStart, with management support for her partner’s restaurant, Artisanale in Guelph and her busy, exhausting and loving kids.