Research & Learning


The Food Security Research Network reports to the Lakehead University Office of the Vice-President (Research) which facilitates a research approach to many of the student engagement activities.

The reciprocal nature of the learning relationships between students and the community provides a two-way conduit, enabling students to share the latest academic information with the community and also to bring knowledge back to the classroom for sharing, consideration and further application in the individual pursuits of faculty members. Our Community Service Learning courses provide excellent opportunities for trialing and experimentation, with the results benefiting the community partners, the students involved and the supervising faculty members. Below are some highlights of FSRN research projects


Research Project highlights

Northern Ontario Case Studies

FSRN has been exploring the work and innovation of northern Ontario local food initiatives since 2011. In 2015, FSRN completed profiles of ten local food initiatives in northern Ontario. These initiatives are collectively emerging as a connected and resilient Northern Ontario food hub. Learn more at




Community Service Learning: What is CSL?

Community Service Learning or “CSL” is a mutually beneficial learning program which broadens and enriches the university experience, allowing faculty and students to engage with the community. At Lakehead University, our CSL Community Involvement with FSRN focuses exclusively on food security and our knowledge sharing supports community leadership in building a social environment that nurtures local food systems.

Our vision of CSL is interdisciplinary. We seek to integrate ideas about food security through diverse subject areas such as Biology, Forestry, English, Social Work, Outdoor Recreation, Political Studies, Psychology, Sociology and Cultural Studies in courses such as: Food Issues in Northern First Nations, Mapping of Agricultural Land in Northwestern Ontario, Field Studies in Sustainable Northern Agriculture, Plant Propagation Techniques, Water Security and Resource Management, Food and Writing, Northern Food Issues, Pollinator Studies and Community Soil Analysis.

Through CSL experiences, we aim to build long-lasting connections in our communities with others who are working on local and regional food issues. To this end, we welcome discussion with faculty and community groups about the diversity of courses and opportunities available to students.

FSRN community service learning from Shebafilms Kelly Saxberg on Vimeo.

If you are a Faculty member or Community Agency interested in getting involved in CSL, please contact Marietta Buzzie at


Benefits & Vision of CSL

The CSL learning experience has reciprocal benefits to students, faculty and community groups. Students learn about food security issues from a community perspective, and the classroom is subsequently enriched by knowledge that the students gain from the community and bring back to the classroom. This nexus of engagement contributes to ongoing research by all involved partners.

Students exposed to CSL experiences through credit university courses are eager to extend their civic engagement into food security themes. A theme-focused CSL means that there is a broad base of community interest bringing in stakeholders that have never before had much contact with a university and offering rich opportunities for field practicum, undergraduate honours theses, master’s research projects and theses and Ph.D. dissertations.

We believe that giving students opportunities for community engagement in food security within academic course requirements will establish life-long learning skills to build the capacity of civil society and enhanced community well-being.

We see that the melding of academic and community goals provides a medium for a growing shared knowledge base and the practical application of research. We envision the Food Security Research Network in Northwestern Ontario as providing a model for growing vibrant local economies.


CSL Projects

Classes in our CSL program support a variety of projects designed to educate and engage the members of our Northern communities and provide new information and insight into the functions of different parts of the region’s food system. Many of these have a direct and beneficial effect on the local food supply. All of our projects integrate community groups and private individuals and expose CSL students to practical applications and expertise through hands-on learning, information-gathering and field-testing.