Executive Director, Advancement
The University of the Fraser Valley is developing a dynamic and essential new research institute to advance BC’s agricultural economy and promote a sustainable and prosperous food culture. UFV is asking government, industry, and other post-secondary institutions to join us in this vital project.
Vision: Through the Food and Agriculture Institute, the University of the Fraser Valley will lead British Columbia towards a sustainable future through agricultural research, innovation, and education.
Mission: The Food & Agriculture Institute will develop applied research capacity to supply the technology, knowledge, and skills to keep the regional agriculture economy globally competitive, oriented to a sustainable future, and striving for innovation.
Agriculture is evolving quickly. Innovations in sustainable resource use, automation, food safety, processing, and improved land use are essential to ensure that Canada remains food-secure and competitive in an increasingly integrated global food system. Pressures in the agriculture sector are forcing producers to diversify crop production and integrate value-added activities that enable BC’s producers to retain and grow their competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
Dr. Lenore Newman is the Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley, where she is currently an Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment. Her academic career as a culinary geographer has included fieldwork around the globe in the study of public markets, regional cuisines, farmland preservation, global food security, and the ecology of the world’s food system. Dr. Newman is a member of the Royal Society of Canada, and an inaugural member of the College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists.
Dr. Garry Fehr is the Associate Vice-President of Research, Engagement, and Graduate Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. He previously worked as Director of the Agriculture Centre of Excellence and as Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley. He came to UFV with 19 years experience working in the construction and primary resources services sector of British Columbia. His areas of interest are rural livelihoods, resource management, and community development.
Dr. Lisa Powell is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of the Fraser Valley. Her work focuses on agricultural land use, food systems and food policy, natural resource extraction and transport, and cultural meanings and interpretations of foods.
The University is situated in the region that produces the greatest annual farm gate sales of any region in Canada and has developed a significant strength in agriculture education and innovation. Since UFV was founded in 1974, agriculture has been central to this mission. The emphasis we place on agriculture reflects our commitment to providing education that supports our students to further their own goals, while also serving the diverse needs of the Fraser Valley. Agriculture is one of the Fraser Valley’s most important economic engines and is central to our regional identity. The agricultural industry is also among the largest employers in the region, responsible for one out of every five jobs. With agricultural production currently taking place on almost half of the land base in the Fraser Valley, it is imperative that it remain environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially responsive.
The University of The Fraser Valley is currently raising funds to support the sustainable, long-term operation of the new Institute. Supporting a program of rigorous applied interdisciplinary research, the Food & Agriculture Institute Endowment will enable us to respond to rapidly emerging issues and to develop best practices for agricultural land use. The Endowment will also allow us to hire student researchers to work on projects, providing applied research experience and exceptional career training.
Housing both the Agricultural Centre for Excellence and the Centre for Food and Farmland Innovation, the new Institute will bring together researchers from diverse backgrounds to achieve the following goals:
Agricultural innovation and value-added products: New agricultural technologies offer the promise of more efficient and sustainable food production. As part of our commitment to innovation, the Institute will trial emerging technologies to support both field and greenhouse production. The Institute will also develop and test improvements in food processing and distribution.
Preserving and utilizing farmland: Farmland is a critical asset that sustains economic activity, strengthens food security, and supports local cultural activities. The Institute will continue to study global best practices in farmland preservation and examine methods of maximizing society’s return on this important asset class.
Food futures: What will food and agriculture look like over the next century? The Institute will examine the potential economic and cultural impacts of emerging technologies, including cellular agriculture and indoor growing. This research will also follow cultural trends and focus on emerging areas of interest and potential challenges to the industry, including shifting trade patterns and changing climate conditions.
New and emerging crops: A healthy farm base requires a steady flow of new crop opportunities. The Institute will explore opportunities to diversify crop production, with a particular focus on crops that better serve our increasingly diverse population. Additionally, FAI will work with Indigenous nations to grow traditional local crops.
Agritourism and value-added activities: The Lower Mainland is well-positioned to become an agritourism destination, thanks both to an excellent diversity of crops and a steady flow of tourists. FAI will study ways to support this emerging sector, investigating culinary place branding, farm stores, and farmer’s markets.
Our commitment to our students: FAI will continue to work with UFV undergraduate students, providing them with hands-on experience in social science methodology, practical work in the field, and chances to present at conferences and publish results. Our goal is to ensure that UFV students are offered the best possible undergraduate research experiences.