Bringing it on Home: Bring Food Home 2011 In Review

Bring Food Home is Ontario’s biennial conference connecting individuals and organizations who are working towards a sustainable food system in our province.  This year’s event drew well over the anticipated attendance to attract more than well 400 attendees.   The success of this gathering of food stakeholders from across the province really was evident in the abundant and positive feedback from Bring Food Home’s enthusiastic participants.

Ali English, who took an active role on both the Planning and Programming Committees reflects back on Bring Food Home by saying: “What and unforgettable three days!  Over 400 people under one roof, working together to shape the kind of food and farming we want to see in Ontario.  Count me in for 2013!”

Participants made tough choices when deciding exactly which of the more than 50 sessions they would attend. Subjects as diverse and “food and media”, the role of cooperatives in the food movement, and community-driven food skills were among the vast range of choices.  In addition, there were meeting and roundtables organized, adding to the impressive range of choices.

Great conference! Very multi-faceted, well-organized and smooth!

A huge variety of learning opportunities.

There was a lot more to Bring Food Home than just the usual conference workshops: “Let’s Talk About Food” was a panel discussion among an esteemed panel of food security experts, writers, organizers and educators.  Dawn Morrison, Jeanette Longfield, Mark Winne and panel moderator Jon Steinman shared their visions of what a “sustainable food system” looked like through their eyes.  The inventive use of visuals projected onto a large screen illustrated these visions was brought the panelists’ comments to life.

Wayne Roberts’ introduction of Keynote Speaker Raj Patel set the mood for a captivating presentation – one that demonstrated Patel’s well-known ability to engage both minds and hearts with his key messages about the need for change, his first-hand stories of the Occupy Movement, and more. This eagerly anticipated and well-received address was certainly one of the conference’s highlights!

Thanks for organizing a very ambitious and impressive event!

Participants had opportunities to enjoy bus and walking tours of food sites across the city and countryside by day, a luxurious local food dinner served by Elmhirst’s Resort, and a live-music Hootenany to celebrate with our new farmer training day participants (I heard certain members of our keynote panel really tore up the dance floor that night); and there was a “trade show” area in the bright and spacious Peter Gzowski College Atrium, where organizations of all kinds were able to engage with participants on a one-to-one basis.

Conference coordinator Karen Burson really felt the energy: “Everywhere we went during those three hectic days we had opportunities to advance our knowledge and also our networks at the same time – it was worth every minute!”

Let’s not forget what brought everyone together: food!  Trent University’s Conferences and Hospitality Services deserve congratulations for their outstanding efforts in accommodating our desire to serve sustainably produced food for our lunches and snacks as much, as possible.  The results were nourishing, delicious and well-appreciated.  Perhaps this is how we create change in our food movement: one plate at a time.

The dedication of the planning and programming committees, workshop leaders and all of our presenters was abundantly evident over those three solid days of intense learning and networking.  Let’s not forget our local partner organizations who worked tirelessly to bring news of our conference to the local farming community, as well as Peterborough’s diverse community food organizations.  And of course it must be acknowledged that an event on this scale can’t happen (or be as accessible to people of different means) without support from funders, and in this case we had substantial support from many sources.  Thanks to everyone involved in planning and executing Bring Food Home for their generosity.

Hopefully, with all the sincere and helpful feedback that the organizers received during and after this year’s event, the next Bring Food Home will be even better.

See you in 2013!

More participant feedback…

Well done.  Excellent venue and line up of sessions.

Love the collaborative piece and there was so much energy everywhere…

Great job! An excellent array of presenters and topics. Very engaging and inspiring. Lots of opportunities to network and connect with other people working to build sustainable food systems.

I really appreciated that there were indigenous food sessions…

Thanks very much. This truly was a spectacular conference with so many details so well attended to. It was a wonderful learning forum, and space to build connections and relationships with other active individuals working on so many ways to make our communities stronger through food.

It was an excellent conference, and I hope that we have some great goals and demands that arose out of it to help us move forward. There’s so much wonderful work to be done!

The positive energy will live on until we meet again!