Scaling up alternative food networks: farmers’ markets and the role of clustering in western Canada
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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Volume (Year): 29 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
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