Food security through the keyhole

Looking Forward conference gives sneak peek into future

Looking Forward food security conference organizer Robert Nichol

Looking Forward food security conference organizer Robert Nichol

The Looking Forward conference on food security attracted about 30 people at Martin Exeter Hall on June 15.

With people attending from 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Clinton, moderator Robert Nichol says a lot of solid, useful information and insights were delivered by all the presenters.

“Everybody thinks it was a success, and the speakers, particularly, were pleased with it all.”

He adds the impressive list of speakers for the event included distinguished keynote speaker Maury Mason.

He shared wisdom and experiences gained in his extensive background as an environmentalist from when Mason was a Greenpeace director in the 1970s to today as the Alaska Wildlife Alliance executive director, and as the first president (and founder) of Earth Day.

Nichol notes the presentation explored the current Global Food Production/Distribution System, and how it applies to local residents.

“He came across very well. He was charming and highly informative, with a great sense of humour.

“It was good to have him as a keynote speaker, because he … also talked a fair bit about grassroots organizing.”

Nichol explains the conference was all about building local and sustainable food systems.

“We are faced with taking a serious look at our vulnerability [to] make great strides forward to rectify any lack of preparedness on our part – both individually and as a community. To not do so will cause us some grief.”

Other speakers included South Cariboo Sustainability Society director Kathy Provost, who talked about the Rebel Garden Zone (a local grassroots food security movement) and homesteading skills.

Rod Hennecker of the Community Enhancement and Economic Development Society (C.E.E.D.S.) talked about the history and future plans of that organization, as well as the Horse Lake Community Farm Co-operative.

Williams Lake resident Richard Case, MSc RP spoke on self-sufficient small farming and Transition Towns; and Clinton’s Jackie Pappas provided her insight on urban organic farming and growing with heirloom seeds.

Cheryl Thomas from Clearwater, a BC Food Systems Network BC Rural Network member and a North Thompson Food Action Committee director, encouraged people to “think like a network” in local food production.

A question-and-answer period followed each speaker, Nichol adds.

“Just about everybody had questions, so there were lots. I think it was a core group of people who are really interested in this area of sustainable food systems and sustainable communities.”

Nichol, who is a filmmaker with 30 films under his belt, explains why he organized the event, which was sponsored by C.E.E.D.S.

“I am working on trying to finance a one-hour documentary on sustainable communities. It’s been tough to raise the financing, but I thought at least I could put on a one-day conference.

“There were some wonderful volunteers … they did a great job, and everybody was pleased with the [organic] lunch.

“I must say the generosity of our little town is something to be proud of…. I wholeheartedly thank all those who stepped up to the plate.”

The entire event was filmed, which Nichol says he hopes to post online once he finds a suitable host website.

“The fact is, the system in general, and the food system in particular, is in the process of unravelling and we need to pay attention to this and prepare, so we can see ourselves through.”