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Scaling up alternative food networks: farmers’ markets and the role of clustering in western Canada

Listed author(s):
  • Mary Beckie


  • Emily Kennedy
  • Hannah Wittman
Registered author(s):

    Farmers’ markets, often structured as non-profit or cooperative organizations, play a prominent role in emerging alternative food networks of western Canada. The contribution of these social economy organizations to network development may relate, in part, to the process of regional clustering. In this study we explore the nature and significance of farmers’ market clustering in the western Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, focusing on the possible connection between clustering and a “scaling up” of alternative food networks. Survey and interview results from four regional clusters indicate that in addition to spatial agglomeration, dynamic processes of interaction and knowledge exchange are occurring and are shaped by vendor mobility as well as collaborative and competitive forces. Horizontal and vertical collaborations are resulting in innovative strategies to address challenges of scale, scope, infrastructure, and organizational capacity that are prevalent in alternative food networks. Government support for market clustering has been modest to date but, we argue, could play a more prominent role in facilitating cluster development as part of a broader collaborative strategy involving public, private, and social economy sectors in the scaling up of alternative food networks. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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    Article provided by Springer & The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS) in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 333-345

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:3:p:333-345
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-012-9359-9
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    1. Patricia Allen, 2008. "Mining for justice in the food system: perceptions, practices, and possibilities," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 25(2), pages 157-161, June.
    2. Cheryl Brown & Stacy Miller, 2008. "The Impacts of Local Markets: A Review of Research on Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1298-1302.
    3. Roberta Sonnino & Terry Marsden, 2006. "Beyond the divide: rethinking relationships between alternative and conventional food networks in Europe," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 181-199, April.
    4. Josée Johnston & Lauren Baker, 2005. "Eating Outside the Box: FoodShare’s Good Food Box and the Challenge of Scale," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(3), pages 313-325, 09.
    5. John Smithers & Alun Joseph, 2010. "The trouble with authenticity: separating ideology from practice at the farmers’ market," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(2), pages 239-247, June.
    6. Roberta Sonnino, 2007. "Embeddedness in action: Saffron and the making of the local in southern Tuscany," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 24(1), pages 61-74, March.
    7. Terry Marsden, 2010. "Mobilizing the regional eco-economy: evolving webs of agri-food and rural development in the UK," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 3(2), pages 225-244.
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