Our Food Future releases strategic go-forward priorities

Action plans will tackle critical issues, including climate change, food waste and food access.

Guelph, Ont., February 8, 2023—Guelph-Wellington’s Smart Cities Office is launching three action plans that lay the groundwork for long-term environmental, economic, and social gains through proven circular economy practices across our regional food system and beyond.

The three action plans provide the framework to build a sustainable model that continues and strengthens the ongoing work. Each plan includes strategic priorities based on research and experience. The Smart Cities Office will lead the implementation of the plans, with activation in the communities they serve, to embed the strategic priorities into systems and programs across Guelph and Wellington County.

The Our Food Future initiative was launched in 2019 to implement a circular food economy in Guelph and Wellington County after being awarded $10 Million from Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge.

“Congratulations to the City of Guelph and Wellington County on all your accomplishments through Our Food Future. The Government of Canada is proud to see that our support, through the Smart Cities Challenge, has helped plant the seed of innovation. The results have had a positive impact on the community and the program can serve as a model for other communities across the country,” said Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities.

The Food Security Action Plan includes barrier-breaking initiatives like a regional healthy food prescription program, increased local food infrastructure, and a community food growing strategy.

The Circular Business Action Plan focuses on building a thriving circular business foundation, commercial models that challenge status quo thinking, and creating markets for recovered materials and upcycled products.

Finally, the Waste as a Resource Action Plan includes ground-breaking behaviour change strategies for consumer food waste reduction, and technology solutions to access real time data to further refine to these strategies.

“Our Food Future and COIL have always been community driven projects, with hundreds of organizations stepping up to advance the shared vision of a regional circular food economy. These action plans set a clear road map forward to sustain the momentum around the circular economy in this region into the future,” notes David Messer, executive director, Smart Cities Office.

These efforts are strengthening communities.

Our Food Future has gained remarkable momentum and worldwide attention including a recent Special Mention award from the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Awards. Efforts by the local circular economy network, representing government, industry, academia, public health, and community agencies, have produced research and pilot projects that are guiding waste reduction strategies and winning awards. More than 200 businesses have adopted circular approaches to reduce waste and launched new services and ‘upcycled’ products.

Regenerative agriculture practices are being tested on over 60 hectares (150 acres) of local farmland—an area 12 times the size of the Roger’s Centre (SkyDome), and dozens of grassroots food access projects have been funded or supported including first-in-Canada programs to tackle food insecurity.

“We have an exciting and busy year ahead,” adds Messer. “2023 will involve extensive community engagement and conversations through Reimagine Food and the Food System Resiliency Table, and new projects and leadership to continue embedding circularity across the local food system and beyond.”

Additional Quotes

“What an incredible success story already. When we first applied for this funding, we knew we were a place where food problems could be solved, and this work is proving that. As our communities have struggled with the pandemic and rising food costs, Our Food Future has been immediately beneficial, while the long-term promise of environmental and economic outcomes is also clear.”

Cam Guthrie, Mayor, City of Guelph.

“Wellington County has a long history as an agricultural powerhouse, and the food innovations happening in our region today are truly inspirational. The success of the Experimental Acres Farm Pilot demonstrates that our producers are keen to have their innovation supported. Farming is the perfect place to build on circularity in action. We look forward to growing an even brighter, reimagined food future.”

Warden Andy Lennox, County of Wellington

About Our Food Future

Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity, and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build Canada’s first tech-enabled circular food economy that will achieve a 50 per cent increase in access to affordable nutritious food, create 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50 per cent increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste.

Our Food Future demonstrates one of the ways the City of Guelph and County of Wellington are contributing to a sustainable, creative and smart local economy that is connected to regional and global markets and supports shared prosperity for everyone.

About Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL)

COIL is a sister initiative to Our Food Future – both led by the Smart Cities Office, a joint local government project of the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington. Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a social-finance initiative that supports impactful projects to strengthen local communities.

COIL programs, tools and resources are delivered as a collaboration between the City of Guelph, the County of Wellington, Innovation Guelph, 10C Shared Space and Anthesis Provision.


Graphic – Impact tiles

2022 Annual Report – Smart Cities Office

Media Contacts

David Messer, Executive Director

Smart Cities Office

City of Guelph

519-822-1260 extension 3661

[email protected]