What if Nova Scotia had a local currency

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I just received this awesome press release (see below) about iconic CSA farmer Robyn Van En and the local currency called "Berkshares" from the Schumacher Institute. Susan Witt, Executive Director, and Alice Maggio, Local Currency Program Director (awesome title right?), of the Schumacher Institute, both spoke at the Local Prosperity Conference in Annapolis Royal about sustainable models for local prosperous economies. In my opinion, these models are far more exciting and "with the times" than the models discussed in the One Nova Scotia Now or Never Report

At the Local Prosperity conference, Susan Witt talked about building a new prosperous and responsible economy without growth. She suggested that the Community Supported/Shared Agriculture CSA model should be expanded to create a new model called Community Supported Industry. While it's not a new idea to have community supported industry, building a community supported or shared economy today requires new branding, local first promotion strategies, and financial and regulatory structures (policy, investment, currency etc.) to make it work. Witt suggests that building a prosperous local economy starts with something very simple, "dusting off" the local business plans of successful small town businesses and kick-starting them with new branding and community investment. Witt says that in Massachussetts, their successful model for responsible local prosperity started with local promissory notes or bonds, the Community Supported/Shared Agriculture (CSA) model, and local currency (Bershares). Since Nova Scotia already has CSA Community Economic Development Investment Funds (CEDIF's) and Crowdfunding as models for community investment, maybe it's time Nova Scotia gets its own local currency.

We've already seen examples of farmers market dollars (Wolfville Farmers Market), farm dollars (Wild Rose FarmTruro Dollars, Let's Antigonish....what if we had Blue Nose Dollars? (open to name suggestions :-) )

Sidebar: I would be happy to connect anyone who reads this article and is working on a re-localization strategy with Susan or Alice. There are other's in the province who have explored different local currency models, why not have them come a present to your local business or community association? 

The Awesome Press Release about the Berkshare Local Currency that inspired this post.

Dear Duncan Ebata,

Following the example set by BerkShares, Inc., the U.S. Treasury announced last Wednesday that a woman would appear on the 10-dollar bill beginning in 2020. The announcement comes nine years after BerkShares, Inc. issued BerkShares, a local currency that features a woman.
f268b23e-23d3-4dd5-8761-31e667d7c009.jpgRobyn Van En, who graces the front of the 10-BerkShare note, was the organic farmer who founded the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement in the United States and applied the CSA concept at her farm in South Egremont, Massachusetts, Indian Line Farm. In the 30 years since Indian Line Farm was founded, CSAs have become understood and adopted by thousands of communities around the world, but when Robyn Van En was pioneering the model in the mid-1980s, it was revolutionary.
Photo by Clemens Kalischer
In a CSA, a consumer pre-purchases a share of a farm’s production for the whole growing season. This gives the farmer access to much-needed capital at the beginning of the season and cuts down on marketing costs. It allows the customer to share the risk of farming and use their buying power to support the local food producers that they wish to see thrive.
Robyn Van En died tragically young in 1997, but her work lives on at Indian Line Farm, which continues to produce abundantly for residents of the Southern Berkshires. The land is now owned by the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires and leased on a 98-year basis to organic farmers Elizabeth Keen and Alexander Thorp, who own the farm business, the farm house, and all improvements on the land. The Nature Conservancy holds the conservation easement on the property. Learn more about this ownership arrangement on our website.
Photo by Jason Houston
BerkShares were issued by BerkShares, Inc. in September of 2006 in partnership with community banks and locally owned businesses. Because the currency was created to encourage and allow for community support of the Berkshire economy, its design celebrates the region’s landscape and the accomplishments of its people.
Van En takes her place on the 10-BerkShare note among four other figures from the Berkshire Region of Western Massachusetts who made their mark nationally in the realms of politics, culture, social change, and environmental activism. The 1-BerkShare note features a Stockbridge Mohican, representative of the first people of the region. The 5-BerkShare note boasts W.E.B. DuBois, the civil rights activist and founder of the NAACP, who grew up in Great Barrington. The 20-BerkShare note displays a portrait of Herman Melville, the writer and environmentalist. Norman Rockwell, beloved illustrator of 20th-century American life, appears on the 50 BerkShare note.

The back of each BerkShare note features the work of a different highly regarded contemporary artist living and working in the Berkshires. Observers frequently comment on the beauty of the bills. “What could be better than money that has history on the front and artwork on the back? I mean, really! They’re not only beautiful, but the idea is beautiful,” remarked Van Shields, executive director of the Berkshire Museum, in a recent interview. The paintings by Bart Elsbach, Morgan Bulkeley, Jr., Janet Rickus, Warner Friedman, and Joan Griswold and the woodcut by Michael McCurdy represent different aspects of life in the Berkshires, from the mountains to Main Street.

“What’s so nice about BerkShares is that they’re telling stories about the community through the currency,” said Beryl Jolly, executive director of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, an arts organization that accepts BerkShares.
The announcement that a woman will appear on the 10-dollar bill in 2020 comes on the heels of an online campaign to replace Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the 20-dollar bill with the portrait of Harriet Tubman. Although Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew will ultimately decide whose portrait will appear on the 10-dollar bill, he has welcomed input from the American people about who they would like to see.
One community in Massachusetts has already chosen to put the heroes, the artwork, and the images that best represent their values on their currency. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Treasury’s next redesign of the dollar will follow suit!

Best wishes,

The Schumacher Center Staff


Slow Fish: Know Your Fisherman” Documentary

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Canada, June 17, 2015 – Slow Fish Canada, part of the nation’s Slow Food movement, aims to protect and celebrate our diverse seafood from Coast to Coast. To this end, it has just released a new documentary called “Know Your Fisherman” that invites all Canadians to engage in finding local solutions to support a better management of our freshwater and marine resources.

The documentary - that can be found below - is built by a series of short stories told from the Pacific to the Atlantic, including an inland fishery success story in the Okanagan and an urban piece from Toronto. “Every single story expresses a desire to manage this largely wild food source in an ecologically sustainable way, by strengthening the bonds the people consuming these foods have with both the resource and the people harvesting that resource”, explains Kevin Kossowan, director of the movie.

SLOW FISH - KNOW YOUR FISHERMAN from Kevin Kossowan on Vimeo.

“We need to start connecting with our fisherman, enjoying wild Canadian seafood, and taking back our coastlines, lakes and rivers before they are lost forever”, adds Brooke Fader, founding member of Slow Fish Canada and leader of the Slow Food Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands convivium. “This film is not only an attempt to highlight some of the challenges our fishers are facing, but it also means to show Canadians that we have a vibrant fishing heritage in this country that we are losing.”

Steelhead Trout

Steelhead Trout

Overview of Slow Fish

The Slow Food movement is based on three core values: good, clean and fair food, in this case, fish. Fishing is a particularly critical issue nowadays, given the privatization of the people's wild food resources, the lack of access to local fish, the pollution of the oceans and its impact on the livelihood of small-scale fishing communities. Among others, Slow Fish recommends to follow these basic guidelines to switch to a more responsible fish and seafood consumption:

  • Choose fresh and traceable seafood
  • Support local fishing communities and processors
  • Seek out seafood that has been sustainably harvested
  • Broaden your seafood tastes: consider lesser known and undervalued species
  • Eat seafood that is in season and is mature of size

As a general rule, support low volume, high value fisheries, not high volume, low value ones. People who are interested in knowing more can follow Slow Fish on their Facebook page at

Canadian Fisherman Slow Fish

Fader concludes: “Our true natural resources are our wild foods – we need protect and celebrate them and the people who are stewards of these lands and waters. Traceability in our food is the most powerful and genuine tool we have.”

Slow Food in Canada and Slow Food Youth Canada

Slow Food in Canada is a collaborative team comprised of Slow Food networks from coast to coast. I (Duncan) believe that Slow Food in Canada and especially Slow Food Youth does and will continue to help support and foster the Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) movement through building good, clean, and fair food culture. I believe this so passionately, that I've joined the Slow Food Canada Board and I am a founding member of Slow Food Youth Network Canada and Slow Food Youth Annapolis Valley. For more information:

Slow Food Youth Canada

About the Slow Food movement

Slow Food is an international non-profit organization funded by its members in 150 countries with over 100,000 members in 1500 convivia. Its cultural, environmental and social mission is the recognition of the central role of good, clean and fair food. For more information:

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Brooke Fader

Founding member of Slow Fish Canada


Caroline Cloutier

Slow Food in Canada Communications Coordinator

Story Map of Farming Inventions Through the Ages

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Here's a wonderful example a new media project that tells a story with a map. I can imagine that this could bring an agriculture region's story alive in a whole new way. 

As you can see, these story maps can be embedded in any website page. Cool, right?

I started making my own about the story of our HarvestHand CSA Software and was surprised how easy it was. Mine's not ready yet, but here's a sneak peek.

Fun fact: Story Map is a Northwestern University Project and it's free!

Make your own and view more stories at:

Big thanks Sinead at Farmers Journal for creating this map and sending it to us.

Farmer with Meat CSA to represent Canada at the upcoming Slow Meat Conference

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Slow Meat

Canada, May 27th, 2015 – Taking place June 4-6 in Denver, Colorado, Slow Meat is an event that “brings together ranchers, farmers, butchers, chefs, eaters and more to share ideas on how we can turn the herd toward meat that is good, clean and fair for all” (Slow Meat Website). Three Canadians will proudly represent Canada at the second edition of this event.

“There is a growing crisis in rural communities: consumers are craving transparency, quality and relationships at the very same moment that a culture of confinement confines farmers, animals and opportunity. Slow Meat is intended to provide a safe space for supply to connect to demand, advocates to connect with ranchers, and vegetarians with butchers to climb out from beneath a system that worships scale and speed rather than quality and transparency”, states Richard McCarthy, Executive Director of Slow Food USA, the group organizing the Slow Meat Conference.

Rachel and Tyler Herbert of Trail's End Beef, a fifth-generation family ranch in the Porcupine Hills of southern Alberta, will be representing us at the event. Since the late 1800s, their family produces natural grassfed, grass-finished beef raised in a way that is good for the land, the animals and the consumers – a good example of Slow Food’s good, clean and fair values.

Julia Smith, of Urban Digs Farm, will also be representing Canada at the Slow Meat 2015 Conference. The farm, as their website states, “supplies families and chefs with trustworthy meat, eggs and produce grown at our farm and by other farmers [they] know.” Julia is on a mission to revolutionize the food industry and hopes to inspire change. Urban

These delegates are supported by Slow Food in Canada, a collaborative team comprised of Slow Food networks from coast to coast. Its mission, as stated by the International movement, is the recognition of the central role of good, clean and fair food. “We are thrilled that our delegates are ‘joining the change makers’ as a voice for Canada and are fully confident in their abilities to be a catalyst for change,” says Heather Pritchard, Chair of Slow Food in Canada.

Slow Meat 2015 will feature a wide array of activities, conferences and dinners, including the Denver Dine Around Dinners on June 4th, the Slow Meat Symposium and Delegation Dinner on June 5th, and the Slow Meat Fair on June 6th, where the public is invited to experience Slow Meat by attending lectures and workshops.

About the Slow Food movement
Slow Food is an international non-profit organization funded by its members in 150 countries with over 100,000 members in 1500 convivia. For more information: 


Caroline Cloutier
Communications Coordinator, Slow Food in Canada

Heather Pritchard (Vancouver)
Chair, Slow Food in Canada

Janet Henderson (Calgary)
Slow Food in Canada Board of Directors

Wolfville Farmers’ Market’s Good Food Hub launches Food Matters Mixer

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Wolfville Farmers' Market Good Food Hub Food Matters Mixer 2015

News Release:  Wolfville Farmers’ Market’s Good Food Hub launches it's first Food Matters Mixer:

Thursday, May 28, 7-9pm


The Wolfville Farmers’ Market’s Good Food Hub will launch its first Food Matters Mixer this Thursday, May 28, from 7-9pm. The Food Matters Mixer will be a regular social event designed to connect people who are passionate about food and food issues, provide a forum for new food projects, ideas and innovations and spark connections and energy within the growing food movement. This first event has been sponsored by the Eastern Kings Community Health Board.

Guests are invited to tantalize their tastebuds on tapas from the Good Food Hub, craft beers from The Schoolhouse Brewery, fizzy brews from a funky ferment bar, and samples from Farm Girl Preserves. Games and door prizes will be provided by EOS Natural Foods.

To spark imagination and conversation, there will be three visual storytellers on the theme of transition: Roberto Gueli, Holistic Nutrition educator, co-owner of Conscious Catering and passionate wild foodist;  Lesley Frank, Sociology Professor and food justice advocate; and, Sarah Pittoello, organic farmer, educator and culinary explorer.  

Tickets are $10 at the door and $8 in advance (buy at The Wolfville Farmers’ Market info booth or at T.A.N. Cafe in Kentville). Admission includes good food and conversation, drinks will be provided at a cash bar. Some free tickets are available for anyone who is financially restricted. Contact Selah Koile at

Facebook:  Food Matters Mixer
Website:  Wolfville Farmers Market

Sandor Katz Fermentation Wolfville Farmers Market Good Food Hub Wolfville


Photo of wild fermentation wizard and culinary author and activist, Sandor Katz, teaching a workshop at the Good Food Hub in 2014

Good Food Hub Background:

When the Wolfville Farmers’ Market installed a commercial kitchen last spring, it began an initiative called the Good Food Hub with a vision of fostering a nourishing community culture that values local food including the systems, skills, knowledge and people that sustain it. A Community Advisory Committee, made up of community leaders, helped to guide a year long process that included monthly meetings, brainstorming, focus groups, partnerships, and pilot projects. Through this process the Market decided to form a standing Good Food Hub Committee made up of vendors and members of the community; and that it could sustain two programs: the Food Matters Mixer event series and The Art and Ease of Good Food workshops.

The Food Matters Mixer was envisioned as a way to foster the hub culture of the Market, by bringing people together from different sectors of the food movement (culinary, agricultural, industry, food security, sustainability, food education, academics, nutrition, health and more). A community planning committee including Adam Barnett, Av Singh, and Amanda Vaz worked with Market staff to further develop the concept and event plan.

The Art and Ease of Good Food cooking workshops provide hands on cooking skills using fresh local ingredients in a friendly environment around a communal table. The successful spring series was so well received it sold out . Several tickets for financially restricted members of the community were made possible through the Eastern Kings Community Health Board Wellness Initiative Fund, and will be available again for the upcoming fall series. 

Get Involved!
The Wolfville Farmers’ Market started a Good Food Hub Fund to encourage business sponsorship and individual donations to support the sustainability of the programs and to allow those who are financially restricted to participate. The Market will soon form a Good Food Hub Committee made up of community members and vendors committed to sustaining and developing these community focused programs.  As these programs have a community focus, there will always be a need for volunteers and engagement.  Please contact The Market Manager to further discuss your interest.

Media Contacts:
Kelly Marie Redcliffe, Market Manager

Selah Koile, The Good Food Hub Coordinator