Transforming Society’s Relationship with the Land

How do we fundamentally transform society’s relationship with the land? CSFS builds institutional frameworks and human capacities through influence, collaboration and research, and through a variety of programs for children, Indigenous peoples, prospective farmers, and the community. By innovating people’s relationships with the land, both at the political and individual levels, the Centre helps reverse the trend of environmental degradation and loss of farmland, to ensure long-term stewardship of our land resources.

Darren Irwin, Professor, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, UBC

  • Avian ecology and evolution
  • Understanding of how new species arise, how geographical variation within species is produced, and how behaviors evolve.
  • Genomics, computer-assisted analysis of vocalizations, observation and experimentation in the field, and computer simulation.


Eduardo Jovel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems; Director, Indigenous Research Partnerships

  • ecological and socio-economic intensification for food security in smallholder agriculture in the Andes, Peru
  • assessment of indoor moulds in Aboriginal housing and impacts on  health
  • identification of potential sources of bioactive molecules from BC fungi
  • impacts of environmental contaminants on traditional marine foods and  medicines
  • antioxidant activities, total phenolic content, and antimicrobial properties of BC native plants and entomogenous fungi
  • evaluation of plants with mercury chelating  properties


Jolie Mayer-Smith, Faculty of Education, Director, Inter generational Landed Learning Project

  • Children & Youth
  • Educational Technologies
  • Environmental Education
  • Higher Education
  • Pedagogy
  • Science Education
  • Teacher Education


Will Valley, Academic Director of the Land, Food, and Community Series; Instructor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems

  • Community engaged scholarship
  • Food security
  • School food systems
  • Systems thinking and cognitive psychology
  • Urban agriculture


Hannah Wittman, Associate Professor,Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Food, Nutrition and Health, Farm Land Access Research Project

  • Rural and environmental sociology
  • Agrarian citizenship
  • Food security and food sovereignty
  • Community and rural development
  • Agrarian political economy
  • Social movements

Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness Program (CRUW)

Project leads: Jeffrey J. Schiffer, PhD Candidate, Columbia University and Eduardo Jovel, Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Impact: CRUW as a support for youth acknowledging land in a context of healing, growth, self-reflection, and personal and community development.

Project Partners: Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, Indigenous Research Partnerships at UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm, and Pacific Community Resources Society.

Project Support: Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4) at Earth Institute, Columbia University; Province of British Columbia’s Community Action Initiative (CAI); the Vancouver Foundation.

Additional Information:


Farmland Access Research Project

Project leads: Hannah Wittman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Impact: Provides solutions for sustainable, community-based farmland access management for local food production in British Columbia.

Project Partners: Jessica Dennis, M.Sc. Candidate, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Heather Pritchard, FarmFolkCityFolk, Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, Young Agrarians

Project Support: The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Additional Information:


Intergenerational Landed Learning

Project leads: Jolie Mayer-Smith, Faculty of Education, Curriculum and Pedagogy

Impact: Unites generations in a community learning initiative that illustrates the values of lifelong learning, community mindedness, ecological and social citizenship, and civic responsibility.

Project Partners: Think & Eat Green at School, Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership

Additional Information:

Geographic Variation and speciation in birds

Project leads: Darren Irwin, Professor, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, UBC

Impact: The UBC farm provides a wonderful site to study the bird fauna of the Vancouver area, allowing us to compare the genetic and phenotypic traits (e.g. plumage colours, songs) of local birds with those in more distant study areas. We are then able to learn about the causes of geographic variation in bird species as well as what causes a single species to split into two over time.