The inaugural meeting of the Edmonton Food Council took place on Monday night at the Commonwealth Recreation Centre. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with fourteen passionate and dedicated Edmontonians to move this initiative forward!
In November 2012, City Council approved fresh, Edmonton’s Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy. It called for an Edmonton Food Council to be established, a process which began in earnest in May of this year. By early June, 57 citizens submitted their applications to the City, a great show of interest. Interviews with 22 of them took place in mid-July, and finally on July 26 the City announced the names of the 15 citizens selected to serve on the inaugural Food Council. Here they are:
- Mary Bailey – Co-Chair
- Stuart Cullum – Co-Chair
- Brent Swallow
- Christopher Sikora
- Dustin Bajer
- Hilton Dinner
- Janelle Herbert
- Jennifer Fisk
- Kevin Kossowan
- Kirsta Franke
- Mack Male
- Marjorie Bencz
- Mark LaRue
- Megan Stevenson
- Meghan Dear
Some folks I know fairly well, others I look forward to getting to know over the months ahead. There’s a really great mix of perspectives and backgrounds, and I think we’re going to have some fascinating conversations as a result.
Mayor Mandel kicked the meeting off with some introductory remarks, and made it clear that we should feel empowered as a group to decide how best to contribute to the implementation of fresh. He put a nice spin on the Food Council’s elevator pitch:
As a committee of the City’s administration, the Edmonton Food Council’s primary role is to advise on matters of food and urban agriculture and to take an active role in supporting the implementation of fresh. Other core jobs may include providing advice, undertaking research and evaluation, coordination, engagement and education.
For the rest of the evening, facilitator Beth Sanders led us through a helpful process to tease out desires and perspectives. It was great to hear from everyone and to realize by the end of the night that we had already come to some consensus on how we’ll interact as a team. I can’t say it any better than the newsletter that went out today:
What became clear is that there is no shortage of energy with this group. When discussing when monthly meetings should be held, the group quickly came to consensus that monthly meetings would not be enough to maintain momentum. They wanted to meet sooner than later. No doubt that the commitment and enthusiasm of this group will have a lasting effect on Edmonton’s food and urban agriculture landscape.
Energy is a great word – there was lots of it on Monday night! We’re all eager to get to work, and we want to actually get things done. Being nomination day, I couldn’t help but think of the phrase that so many candidates had remarked to me after filing their paperwork – “now it’s real!”
Edmonton Food Council meetings will be open to the public, and there will very likely be opportunities to get involved. You can get all the information on the City’s website, and I’d also encourage you to subscribe to the Food In The City newsletter.