New Publication: Indigenizing Food System Planning for Food System Resiliency

Our photovoice project in partnership with the Kitselas First Nation is now published in the Journal of the American Planning Association. This article features six Indigenous participants from Kitselas First Nation who shared photos and stories of their everyday lived experiences with foods and the importance of traditional foods. Through the findings from this study, we demonstrate the importance of respecting and supporting Indigenous food sovereignty in planning and the need for community food assessments to include cultural food assets. We are grateful for the collaboration and support from the Kitselas First Nation throughout the entire project.

Food is my Teacher

Dr. Tammara Soma’s documentary Food is my Teacher premiered on August 25 on CBC Gem. She travels with filmmaker Brandy Yanchyk across B.C. and Alberta to explore the healing power of food and its role in shaping our culture and identity. The documentary features the backyard garden of Tamara Shulman, Food Systems Lab Director of Community Partnerships. We also made a splash in the media, including:

We’re on Planet Wonder

Dr. Tammara Soma is the expert guest in an episode of the CBC series Planet Wonder. She chats with show host Johanna Wagstaffe about food system sustainability and explores the question “How vegan do we have to be to save the planet?”. Find out her answers to this question in this video.

We’re at CAFS 2023!

Food Systems Lab had four presentations at the Canadian Association of Food Studies conference this year. Tammara and Belinda shared findings from the Our Home, Our Food, Our Resilience project. Elina, Dina, and Hafsa presented at a panel session on the Digging into the Farm to School Movement project.

Earlier this month, Elina, Dina, and Hafsa also presented at the Farm to School BC Conference and successfully defended their theses.

Sharing Lessons Learned from Virtual Social Innovation Labs

We published a journal article titled “Reflections From Implementing a Virtual Social Innovation Lab”. This article highlights key lessons learned from adapting a social innovation lab to an online environment. An interesting innovation is the use of interactive tools like Gather.Town to improve participant engagement and Kahoot! for gamification to expand creative thinking. This article is available with open access in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

Read the Article

Setting the Table for Food Justice: The Role of Community-Engaged Research

Dr. Tammara Soma, Co-Founder and Research Director of Food Systems Lab, was the feature speaker for a President’s Faculty Lecture on Tuesday November 23. Here are some highlights from the event.


Who has a seat at the food policy table and who gets to define the problem and shape the solutions when it comes to addressing issues such as food insecurity?

These are some of the questions that I seek to answer with my colleagues and students at SFU’s Food Systems Lab. Applying community-engaged research methods, this woman-led research lab is focused on centring equity, justice, and particularly the voices of Indigenous partners in shaping our collective vision to achieve sustainable, decolonized and just food systems for all. Informed by the Islamic and Indigenous teachings that food is medicine, I will showcase why worldviews matter when it comes to planning for food.

Insights from citizen scientists will demonstrate why food is more than just a commodity. Rather, food represents family, identity, culture and spirituality.

— Tammara Soma


Tammara Soma (MCIP, RPP) is an assistant professor at SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management and the research director of SFU’s Food Systems Lab. Canadian Organic Growers named Food Systems Lab as one of four “women-run projects that are redefining agriculture.” Originally hailing from Indonesia, Soma conducts research on issues pertaining to food system planning and the circular economy. Soma is a co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Food Waste and was selected as a committee member of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the consensus study “A National Strategy to Reduce Food Waste at the Consumer Level.”


The President’s Faculty Lectures shine a light on the research excellence at Simon Fraser University. Hosted by SFU president Joy Johnson, these free public lectures celebrate cutting-edge research and faculty that engage with communities and mobilize knowledge to make real-world impacts. Each short lecture by an SFU researcher will be followed by a conversation with Joy Johnson and an audience Q&A.
This year, lecturers will approach the themes of equity and justice from a variety of disciplines.

Food Systems Lab is one of four women-run projects that are redefining agriculture

Reposted from The Canadian Organic Grower:

Four Women-run Projects that are Redefining Agriculture


We’re showcasing creative and innovative women who are leading the way towards creating a more equitable future for food security. The work they’ve done and continue to do for their communities, the organic movement, and the environment deserve to be recognized. We’re very lucky to have such dedicated caretakers across the country, and understand that these are only a few examples of extraordinary women we know. 

1. SeedChange: Jane Rabinowicz and Tiffany Traverse

Jane Rabinowicz, Tiffany Traverse and the whole team at SeedChange are working with farmers and like-minded organizations to reclaim the power of good food and nourish communities. They are passionate changemakers with a fascination for seeds and are determined to mitigate the impact of climate change. They continue to work towards improving farmers’ livelihoods, increasing land biodiversity, and promoting seed and food sovereignty.

Rabinowicz is currently Executive Director at SeedChange and a board member of MakeWay. She has dedicated her career to community-led change, and is recognized by The Globe and Mail as one of the most influential people in Canada’s food system. She promotes ethical seed sourcing and creating community-based projects to teach different ways of approaching organic farming. She believes in the cooperation between organic and regenerative agriculture to create a balance for farmers and consumers alike while raising awareness of the significance of maintaining seed health.

Tiffany Traverse is a board member of SeedChange, an Indigenous Researcher, and an Indigenous Land & Seed Steward in the Peace Region of British Columbia. She’s currently researching and working alongside Métis seed keeper, Caroline Chartrand, on a rare Indigenous seed project. She’s always been fascinated with the beautiful mysteries surrounding seed sovereignty, and is now challenging the common agricultural practices by studying and implementing Indigenous methods that revolve around permaculture. She redirects all findings and credit back to the Indigenous Land by promoting the practices and ingenuity that have been keeping people healthy for generations.

With less than 1% of Canadians being farmers, there is pressure on farmers to produce enough to feed the masses, let alone use regenerative organic processes. This is why Rabinowicz, Traverse and the whole team at SeedChange are taking strides towards promoting a system that works with the environment to create better practices instead of fighting against it and deteriorating it further. 

To learn more about the work of SeedChange, click here!

2. Heart Beet Organics: Amy Smith & Verena Varga

Smith and Varga are known in PEI for their beautiful and bountiful farm. They made a name for themselves by growing all sorts of organic goods, while doing so with less than two acres of land. When they first moved to the island, there were many doubts surrounding their potential success, but they quickly showed what determination, hard work and creativity can get you. 

Since the majority of farms in Canada are inherited from family, it’s difficult to get into the agricultural world without being raised in it. Smith and Varga saw this gap in the system, and created an apprenticeship program for people who are interested in learning more about farming and organics. Smith can track all of her farming success back to her experiences working side by side in the fields with her mentors, and wants others to have the same opportunity. Smith and Varga invite curious, ambitious people in their community to work alongside them in hopes that some may discover a passion for agriculture. 

“The best farming education you can get is getting your hands dirty and working side by side with farmers” – Amy Smith, Saltscapes.

Additionally, they are fighting against food waste by creating products out of their unmarketable produce. For example, they produce delicious and healthy fermented products including kimchi, tempeh, hot sauce and much more. Heart Beet became the first and largest commercial producer of Kombucha in PEI. In 2019, they opened their farm-to-table café and kombucha tap room, where they serve plant-based meals that feature their produce and fermented products.

These women faced doubts and skepticism from the agro-community and turned it into motivation. Their enthusiasm, dedication, and passion for organics and their community is only the start of their triumphs. To learn more about Heart Beet Organics, click here!

3. Saanich Organics: Heather Stretch, Robin Tunnicliffe, Rachel Fisher 

Heather Stretch, Robin Tunnicliffe and Rachel Fisher are co-owners of Saanich Organics in Victoria, British Columbia, and each have certified organic farms of their own. They started Saanich Organics out of frustration with the amount of imported food coming into their community when fresh organic products were being grown locally. They noticed there was a gap between consumers and local organic farmers that could be fixed if food was made more accessible. Saanich Organics gave the opportunity to mend the bond between organic farmers and the local community by providing easy accessibility to organic food. They now provide a delivery service. They also offer a regular meeting place for farmers and consumers to sell, discuss, and buy local organic products — this is supporting their local farms and lessening the communities’ environmental impact.

They have since continued their work in sustainable organics by creating Seeds of the Revolution which provides healthy seeds along with growing recommendations on the packaging. The seeds can be mailed out all across Canada, and are great for small producers, farmers, and commercial growers alike. 

These women saw a barrier in their community and took the initiative to create a better way to build relationships between farmers and consumers. Check out their work here!

4. Food Systems Lab: Tammara Soma, Tamara Shulman, and Belinda Li

Tammara Soma, Tamara Shulman, and Belinda Li are co-directors of the Food Systems Lab, a research hub that specializes in bringing a sustainable food system to everyone. They’re working to reduce food waste in a way that enhances ecosystems, conserves natural resources, and mitigates climate change. They were sick of the band-aid solution that has been sweeping the environmental justice sector, and decided to build a community of scientists and researchers to build the lab. They wanted to make sure to build the foundation from three principle pillars: Reconciliation, social justice and inclusion.

With their team of specialized professionals, data-driven approaches, and in-depth research and design methods, these women are able to develop and evaluate solutions to improve the food system and our ecological footprint. 

To check out the Food Systems Lab’s latest research, findings, and progress, please visit their website here!