Developing a Regional Food System Symposium

With funding from the J.W. McConnell FoundationGeorge Cedric Metcalf Foundation andFriends of the Greenbelt Foundation, the Greenbelt Fund is embarking on a pilot project that will look at ways to integrate regional food hubs with mainstream foodservice distribution.

Read more about the project here.

To launch this project, they hosted a half-day symposium in January on "Developing a Regional Food System" where they invited industry leaders from the United States to come share business models. The Fund presented details about their pilot project and gave attendees the opportunity to discuss how regional food hubs can become an integral part of our food distribution system here in southern Ontario.  Many innovative and inspirational ideas were presented by the panelists, arousing thoughtful and bright conversation from the many guests. is happy to be able to share with you with the content of several of our panelists' presentations. 

Read more about the Greenbelt Fund and their programming.

Panelists for the symposium included:

Robin Morris, Mad River Food Hub

Read Robin's presentation.

Robin Morris founded the Mad River Food Hub in 2011 to support local farmers and value added food producers. Located in Waitsfield VT, the Mad River Food Hub is unique in its offering of a licensed shared meat and vegetable processing facility, storage and distribution. Robin has 30 years of business management experience from CEO of an international software company in New York to running a business consulting practice in Vermont offering CFO services.

Larry Yee, The Food Commons

Read Larry's presentation.

Larry Yee currently serves as the Coordinating Director for the Food Commons, a new economic paradigm and whole systems approach for localized food. Larry is retired from the University of California where he was the director of the Ventura County UC Cooperative Extension office and the UC Hansen Trust, which operates the UC Hansen Agricultural Center. For the past 25 years he has worked nationally on sustainable agriculture and food systems.

Amanda Oborne,

Amanda Oborne is director of FoodHub, a website that helps wholesale food buyers find, connect and do business with local farmers, ranchers, fishermen and food producers of all kinds in the western US. Amanda’s 15 year career in marketing and communications has focused on helping independently-owned small and medium businesses succeed in their markets. She joined the non-profit Ecotrust, owner and incubator of FoodHub, in 2010 to help make the site an effective market-connections tool. Amanda has a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University and formerly handled direct marketing for Intuit’s QuickBooks brand.

John Fisk, Wallace Centre

Read John's presentation.

John Fisk, PhD, has over 20 years of experience in sustainable food and agricultural systems development, with training and application in research, value chain development, program design, project management, philanthropy and evaluation. Dr. Fisk currently serves as the Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International, based in Arlington, Virginia. Under his leadership the Wallace Center has emerged as an innovative national force in food systems, utilizing an enterprise focused strategy for linking a larger number of people and communities to “good food” - healthy, green, fair and affordable food.

Kathy Nyquist, New Venture Advisors

Read Kathy's presentation.

Kathy Nyquist is the founder and principal of New Venture Advisors LLC, a business advisory firm specializing in startup and small enterprise. Her work has led to the launch of four food hubs, businesses which connect local farm producers with local customers, including Blue Ridge Produce, a keenly-watched model for the rebuilding of local food systems, where she serves on the advisory board.  Kathy has over 20 years of marketing and strategic leadership experience with Fortune 100 companies.