Value Chain Innovation from Seed to Plate

Hoop House Hannah, Lisa Veronik

How do we innovate the value chain, from seed to plate, to achieve greater health and value of our food?  At the CSFS, research and innovation addresses the entire food system. As a working farm with connections to chefs, restaurants, food processors, community programs and regular farmer’s markets, researchers at CSFS have a unique opportunity to influence innovation in all parts of the food chain.

Shannon Berch, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany, Associate Member, Ministry of Forests

  • Health of containerized nursery seedlings
  • Long-term impacts of soil compaction and organic matter removal
  • Ecology and management of commercially harvested wild mushrooms
  • Use of molecular tools to identify and detect the presence of fungal species on mycorrhizal roots


Andrew Riseman, Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

  • Plant breeding
  • Intercrop interactions
  • Nutrient use efficiency
  • Root physiology
  • Biotic and abiotic stressor resistance
  • Edaphic selection


Hannah Wittman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Food, Nutrition and Health

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

Truffle establishment in British Columbia

Project leads:  Shannon Berch, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany, Associate Member, Ministry of Forests

Impact:Successful cultivation of Pèrigord black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) using English oak (Quercus robur) as the host tree to develop Best Management Practices for use in establishing a commercial truffle industry.

Project Partners: British Columbia Truffle Association, Investment Agriculture Foundation,

Additional Information:


BC Seed Trials: Supporting Regional Seed System Development through Community-Engaged Research

Project leads: Alexandra Lyon, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Land and Food Systems; Hannah Wittman, Academic Director, CSFS & Associate Professor Food, Nutrition, and Health; Mélanie Sylvestre, CSFS Perennial and Biodiversity Coordinator, and Chris Thoreau, Regional Coordinator – Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, FarmFolk CityFolk

Impact: Contribute to resilient agri-food systems in British Columbia through research that engages farmers in producing knowledge relevant to seed systems development. Participatory variety trials in selected crops at the UBC Farm and on farms in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island are helping farmers identify promising varieties for seed production by evaluating market characteristics, agronomic performance, seed yield potential, and adaptation to BC production regions and systems. In addition, seed grow-outs at the UBC Farm compare the quality of seed varieties produced by independent BC seed growers with that of commercial equivalents. Develop a case study of seed production and exchange systems in BC and their relationship to community mobilization for food sovereignty.

Project Partners: FarmFolk CityFolk, University of the Fraser Valley, BC Eco Seed Co-op. Funding: Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, Investment Agriculture Foundation, Whole Foods, SSHRC.


Farm to Institution: Exploring food literacy education and public procurement in British Columbia and beyond

Project team: Lisa J. Powell, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm and UBC Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability,  (BC study lead); Hannah Wittman; Jill Guerra, M.A. Student, UBC Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability (Brazil study); Chris Hergesheimer, Ph.D. Student, UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems (Ecuador study); Susanna Klassen, M.Sc. Student, UCBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Impact: Farm to Institution (FTI) efforts aim to increase both public understanding of and connections to food systems and the amount of locally produced foods served by public institutions such as schools, colleges, hospitals, community centres, and correctional facilities. Farm to Institution programs have the potential to achieve public health, education, community economic development, and environmental goals. FTI programs have a long history in many countries worldwide, and over the past decade in British Columbia (BC), many FTI projects have emerged in various communities across the province.

The CSFS Farm to Institution program’s objectives are to:

1) Understand and characterize the development and implementation of FTI programs in British Columbia, and the diverse motivations for the growth in FTI initiatives

2) Investigate and assess the particular role of mediated market interventions (public food procurement programs in Canada, Brazil and Ecuador) in meeting multiple social, economic, and ecological objectives while minimizing trade-offs.

3) Spur theoretical and applied innovation in the fields of food sovereignty and food systems governance, and develop a guide to best practices in food system transformation.

Partners: Farm to School BC/PHABC, State University of Sao Paulo (UNESP), Brazil, Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, Ecuador, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, University of the Fraser Valley.


Producing Carrot Seed in Isolation Structures

Project Lead: Chris Thoreau, FarmFolk CityFolk; Masters Student, Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Impact: Carrots are one of the more complex seed crops to produce. First, the crop is a biennial that requires two years to grow out and specific overwintering storage requirements. Secondly, domesticated carrot will readily cross with Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota var. carota), a progressively common weed in British Columbia. Complete isolation between the wild and domesticated varieties is necessary to produce true-to-type seed. Isolation structures also allows farmers to produce different varieties of carrot seed in close proximity.

The long-term objectives of this project are to:

1) Increase the viability of growing organic and ecologically-grown carrot seed in high-tunnel isolation structures. This approach is meant to eliminate cross-pollination with Queen Anne’s Lace.

2) In addition to addressing the reality of cross-pollination with Queen Anne’s Lace in British Columbia, the outcomes generated by this research will also point to best practices in increasing the yield of regionally-adapted seed through the potential of growing out multiple carrot varieties without cross pollinating.

This research complements the work of the BC Eco Seed Co-op, the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, and the UBC Farm Seed Hub to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of ecologically-grown vegetable seed in Canada.
More Project Information on the BC Seed Trials Website.

Partners: Dr. Martin, Entz, University of Manitoba; Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, Jen Cody and Craig Evans, Growing Opportunities Farm Community Co-op, Nanaimo, BC; Kristjan Johansson, Sharing Farm, Richmond, BC.