Public Symposium: Sustainable Agriculture and the Island’s Food System (2016)

Public Symposium: Sustainable Agriculture and the Island’s Food System

Monday, November 14, 2016 | 7-9 p.m.
Duffy Science Centre Amphitheatre, Room 135, UPEI Campus

Prince Edward Island’s “food system” was the topic of a Public Symposium held at UPEI’s Duffy Science Centre Amphitheatre on Monday, November 14, 2016. In particular, the discussion focused on a move toward a more sustainable agriculture, with a stronger emphasis on local food and food security.

This event was one of a regular series of Public Symposia sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.

Rapporteur’s report by Erin Kielly, The Guardian, December 8, 2016

The main speaker was distinguished author and public policy specialist Dr. Mark Lapping, long associated with the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. Dr. Lapping has held many academic leadership posts, including that as founding Dean of the prestigious School of Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. Throughout his career, he has maintained a strong interest in land issues in Prince Edward Island, and has published several papers and studies on the topic.

In recent years, Dr. Lapping has focused his work on food systems and has written extensively on the subject. He was the leader of an ambitious undertaking at the Muskie School which developed a food plan and strategy for the state of Maine.

“To most people,” says Dr. Lapping, “food is about growing and consuming food.  But a food system,” he continues, “is a large set of processes and it is critical to take a wider, systems perspective. Only then might we have a more robust understanding of the ways by which a sustainable agriculture can become part of a larger process of change toward a more nutritious and just life for individuals, families and communities.”


Responding to Dr. Lapping’s talk was a Panel comprised of two Island farmers and a researcher in public health nutrition. Barry Cudmore of Brackley Beach farms seed potatoes, soy beans, and grains. A Nuffield scholar and member of the Atlantic Agriculture Hall of Fame, he is a proponent of seeking farm sustainability in moving from commodities to branded products, and reconnecting consumers with producers.


Mark Bernard and his wife Sally operate Barnyard Organics in Freetown. As the fourth-generation Bernard on this family farm, Mark has moved away from potato production. The objective of Barnyard Organics is “to bring the farm back to its original state as a self-sustaining mixed farm, using traditional methods combined with some of the efficient technologies of our time.”


The third Panelist was Dr. Colleen Walton, Associate Professor in Applied Human Sciences at UPEI. She has over 20 years of working experience within the Island’s food system. Her research interests lie in the area of building capacity among groups and individuals toward strengthened livelihoods and greater household food security.

Members of the public were cordially invited to attend. Admission was free. Following the presentations, there was time for discussion and questions from the floor.


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