Communities across the North are mobilizing in an effort to build sustainable, local food production capacity and develop much-needed economic opportunities for community members. Food producers are making use of local food sources to feed their communities in ecologically and economically sustainable ways. Producers who want to take advantage of this rising local food trend need key information about local food supply and demand - What is being produced already? Who is buying and how much? What is there demand for? Where are the opportunities for growth? Presently there is very little complete data on this largely informal sector of the economy in the NWT.
Improved access to quality data can have many benefits for the NWT, including: encouraging local businesses to expand their operations, supporting the development of policies that improve access to local and traditional foods, and helping to diversify business streams and job opportunities for local First Nations and the community members.
Between Fall 2016 and March 2017, ARI collected information from consumers and local food producers to determine which local foods are being sold, which local foods are in demand, and what opportunities are available to people interested in selling local foods. With this information, ARI created a map of the local food market in Fort Smith. ARI also prepared a guidance document so that the mapping process can be applied in other communities throughout the North.
The purpose of the local food map project is to produce useable data that is not currently available for NWT communities – information that will assist Northern food producers in achieving economic growth/stability and a mapping method that can be employed in other communities to map local food economic activity.