Food Import Replacements for Nova Scotia

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The seemingly infinite growth focused economy and export based economy when it comes to most industries, but particularly food, just doesn't make sense.
FOOD PRICES HAVE SKY-ROCKETED in 2016 Canada largely because of exchange rate between Canada and the US as well as climate change incidents (drought in California, floods everywhere, severe hurricanes etc.). As Canadians, we import 50% of our food from the US. In Nova Scotia, we import 92% of our food. We have enough food in Nova Scotia to last a few days if the trucks stop running or even slow down. This fact, makes us very vulnerable.
This food dependency from other countries and even other provinces (we live in a big country!) makes us very vulnerable to weather issues, unstable food supply, economic downturns (think 2008), oil prices, and political instability (what if Trump wins...). 
The time is now to think of better options for food security and sovereignty.
Instead, of continuing to focus on a wildly unstable export and growth based economy let's put our heads together about what imported staple foods we can replace with locally grown foods.
First one that comes to mind is buckwheat...what would you like to see locally grown where you are?

My talk I'm preparing for the 2016 Nova Scotia Food Summit

Sean Myles at Annapolis Cider Company

Farmworks Investment Co-operative and the 55 local food businesses it funds

Everyday Citizenship Community Supported Agriculture

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To address the question of how can we make it easier to find and join a CSA, here's what we came up with in our discussion:

  • -CSA- get CSA to have a better search engine ranking - here's all the Canadian directories for CSA's: - SHARE this!
  • share with your friends what CSA's and share it on facebook
  • promote to off-campus students, encourage them to ask their parents or families to purchase for them and what financial supports are available for CSAs
  • highschools- inspire students to get their parents to sign-up for shares- good way to introduce people to CSA is through:
  • CSA's easier alternative for people who find farmers markets overwhelming
  • provide recipes and cooking support to CSA members and describe what support you get as a member
  • for students- buy a CSA box with a group of friends and get together to cook what it is in it to learn how to cook and how to cook with the seasons
  • Duncan points out main motivators for people to join CSA's are health (eat more whole foods, eat more vegetables), financials (affordable way to buy organic produce, incentives or supports), family- healthy children, contributing or supporting a local farmer, positive peer mirroring (all my friends have a CSA and love it), curiosity and learning, convenience of having produce delivered (neighbourhood, school, or home delivery), physical activity (working for CSA share)
  • Anne mentions, people are cooking less and less and watching cooking shows more than ever, people have the desire to learn
  • Maybe "cooking therapy" or "slow cooking" could become an anxiety remedy in schools and communities
  • Through highschool "food classes"- a challenge for students to cook something out of a CSA box they get
  • Duncan mentions Groundswell Greenhouse and Network at David Thomas Highschool in Invermere, visited during 2016 Slow Food in Canada Summit where students get chef training and can even complete their first level of chef training

Barriers to joining a CSA:

  • Going on vacation or moving with a CSA (some CSA's offer a certain number of weeks off, or other people will take it, or it goes to the food bank as a donation)
  • Not having adequate  transportation to a drop off location (did you know you could request a location with most CSAs?)
  • Upfront cost (monthly plans can address help this, cost sharing programs etc.)
PS. I am happy to support anyone who wants to get involved with promoting CSA's email me duncan [at]
To get involved with the CSA movement and food activities in the Annapolis Valley: 

Please join our Slow Food Youth Annapolis Valley group on Facebook


Software Developer- Part-Time- Nova Scotia

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HarvestHand is a small start-up company in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Our mandate is to participate in building a vibrant local food economy by providing new media solutions that help to bring together farmers and food consumers in mutually beneficial ways.


Software Developer

This is a part-time term position. Starts immediately.


  •     development and maintenance of HarvestHand Web based CSA software platform
  •     develop innovative new features and evolve current feature sets
  •     analyse software to ensure stability, availability, and performance
  •     identify and implement proactive solutions to address potential issues
  •     identify ideas for system improvements
  •     respond to customer support needs
  •     participation in preparation and implementation of  training materials
  •     thrive in a startup environment and familiarity with launching “lean” software applications


experience using:

  •     Linux
  •     Apache HTTP server
  •     MySQL relational database management system
  •     PHP programming language
  •     HTML
  •     CSS
  •     Javascript


Applicants should be graduates of a recognized  computer science training program (degree or diploma) with a concentration in web development.

Read more about HarvestHand

Apply by March 1, 2016

Send resume and cover letter to [email protected]

CSA Marketing 101 Workshop Follow Up

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As promised, here's the followup blog post from the two workshops on CSA Marketing I just wrapped up at the Guelph Organic Conference and with the CSA farms in Ottawa. I'm writing this post from a sweet cafe called Aries in Wakefield, Quebec, near Roots and Shoots Farm and Juniper Farm. Thank you to the Tommas Nimmo at Guelph Organic Conference and Robin and Jess at Roots and Shoots for making these two workshops possible. I'm excited to report that over 90 people attended the workshops.


Future Events and Workshops

I received many requests to do workshops on specific topics such as starting CSA's, Facebook advertising and content marketing, Google advertising etc. If you're interested in being notified about future workshops or webinars and getting our HarvestHand CSA community quarterly newsletter, add your email to our list.

Join Email List


CSA Marketing 101 Presentation



Key CSA Marketing Documents:

Presentation Notes

Printable PDF of CSA Marketing Cycle

CSA Membership Cycle and Strategic Plan Template

If you are interested in our HarvestHand CSA Software, please send me a note to arrange a time for a call.

CSA Marketing 101- Guelph Organic Conference 2016

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Big News: We'll be at Guelph Organic Conference from January 29th-31st exhibiting (the exhibitor area is free to attend and has over 130 organic exhibitors) and hosting a workshop on CSA Marketing 101- Building a Community Around Your Business-January 31st, 1:30pm-3pm (it's only $35 for adults, $15 for students to attend all the Sunday workshops, register here). The workshop is designed for farms with CSAs that are looking to grow membership, grow sales, increase member retention, improve communications, save time using online and social media tools, prioritize communications and management activities, create an overview of communications and management to share with team, and improve the overall profitability of the farm.

P.S. If you're near Ottawa,I'll be running the workshop below on February 3rd, 2016, from 2pm-4pm at the West End well for a small group of farms, register here.

Workshop Highlight Reel:

  • Presentation covering the management and communications practices of the most successful and profitable CSAs in Canada and US from my experience of working with over 45 CSA's and from in depth interviews of the top CSAs in North America. For example:

    • how CSA farm startups grow rapidly in a short period of time ($50,000 in sales to $900,000 in two years)

    • how farms cultivate high customer retention rates (as high as 95% with 200 CSA members) 

    • how farms sell hundreds of CSA shares in a short period of time (as high as 500 CSA shares in two weeks)

  • The workshop where we will support you in outlining your CSA Membership Cycle together with the other attendees. By the end of the workshop you will be able to pinpoint what's working and what's not working for your CSA communications and management as well prioritize the key activities that will provide the best results for your farm (activities that will improve retention, sales growth, save time, improve profits etc)

  • Receive a CSA Membership Cycle template, worksheet, and digital resources

  • Have fun and depart with one clear priority and tasks that will strengthen your business and community

Register for Guelph Workshop or Register for Ottawa Workshop

Official Conference Workshop Description:

Canadians spend more time online than any other country in the world and online sales in Canada grew approximately $19 billion last year – (CIRA 2013) As farm and food businesses, how can we adapt and grow our enterprises with this change in human behavior? How can we use new media tools and community engagement strategies to save time and retain more customers? Imagine if you had all the customers you needed and 95% of your customers came back every year. How would this change your business and life? Through the lens of successful CSA farms, we will provide examples of an online marketing strategy that  connects members to the farm, fosters an engaged community and increases profitability. Then we’ll give you the tools and resources to make it happen!

Speaker Bio

Duncan Ebata is a Food Community Builder at HarvestHand. Prior to helping CSA farms build their communities, retain more customers, and become more profitable, Duncan successfully started and managed the digital marketing firm Shift! Mobile Interactive, promoted and grew sales of fair trade products at Just Us! Coffee Roasters, and fostered and advised Nova Scotian startups at the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre. He was recently nominated to be on the board of Slow Food Canada and represented Canada as a Slow Food delegate at Terre Madre 2014 in Turin, Italy.  Duncan volunteers as media advisor to FarmWorks Investment Co-op advising food and farm startup’s and building food community capacity with Slow Food Youth Annapolis Valley. He regularly speaks about marketing at agricultural events and conferences – most recently Duncan spoke about branding and digital marketing at the Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia conference.


Send me a note here or call me at -1-866-542-4305

Register for Guelph Workshop

Register for Ottawa Workshop