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Photo taken in 2017.

Food Justice & Sustainability Hub

Community-based Methodologies for Local Food Systems: a Toolkit

How can communities use research to develop more resilient and equitable food systems? This is one of the key questions driving the work of the Dawson’s Food Justice & Sustainability Hub.

From 2018 to 2020, we worked closely together with neighbourhood food organizations to develop research tools to improve their goals and mission. We are pleased to present the results of this community-based research project in a new report, Community-based Methodologies for Local Food Systems: a Toolkit.

The tools developed by each of our community partners can be used and adapted by organizations and researchers. We hope that it can inspire ideas for community-based methodologies for resilience and equity in local food systems, and help document successful interventions.

Who can use the toolkit?

The toolkit is for community organizations, local government, researchers and citizens.

Who made this toolkit?

The toolkit was put together by the Dawson’s Food Justice & Sustainability Hub in collaboration with community groups throughout Montreal.

How do I use the toolkit?

Read through the case studies to learn about the different strategies used by community groups in Montreal. All tools are available online. You are welcome to adapt the tools to your needs.

Who we are

Dawson’s Food Justice & Sustainability Hub is a team of researchers and faculty who are working with grassroots community organizations to build more resilient and equitable food systems in Montreal. Dr. Anna-Liisa Aunio, a Sociology professor at Dawson College and Concordia University, is the project Director.

Dawson’s Food Justice & Sustainability Hub specializes in three main areas of research and action:

  1. Connection: Data and information to support both activities and provide both researchers and community organizations with the information they need to plan, produce, and promote their work in transforming the food system towards just, sustainable, and healthy food options for all.
  2. Collaboration: events and initiatives to support sharing information, ideas, and perspectives among and between local initiatives in Montreal.
  3. Community-driven research: research by and for local communities to support their needs.

What we do

Building local capacity to improve local food systems is the heart of this multi-year initiative. Research topics are established by the community, research methods are developed with the community, research is carried out by the community and the results are shared with the community to develop and implement strategies for local food systems.

Between 2016 and 2020, the Dawson’s Food Justice & Sustainability Hub received two consecutive grants from SSHRC and NSERC (CCSIF) to conduct applied research on food justice with community partners using digital technologies. We also hosted events and educational workshops.

The ultimate result of this phase is a food map 2.0 and set of tools for assessing the local food landscape and the work of local food organizations. These tools were developed with neighbourhood-based community food groups.

Read our report

In the spring of 2021, we released a report entitled Community-based Methodologies for Local Food Systems: a Toolkit. You can read it here.

Select quotes and photos

“We hope that these interviews will enable us to build relationships with local food business owners, and consequently to reach out to the vulnerable and isolated populations that visit these businesses regularly.”

-Projet en sécurité alimentaire de développement social de LaSalle

“This study allowed us to identify different categories of eastern Montreal food system map users. For example, we found that community organizations and neighbourhood roundtables, which are food network partners, have used the map.”


-Anaëlle Lecorgne
Réseau alimentaire de l’Est de Montréal

“All of this knowledge will allow us to better align ourselves with the projects that are emerging in eastern Montreal.”

-La Table de quartier Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

“[Dawson’s Food Justice & Sustainability Hub] has spent a large amount of time orienting the CRC in the right direction, and providing a wealth of information and resources in order to better construct a picture of our food system.”


-West Island Community Resource Center

“The Urban Agriculture team grows every year, especially in the summer with seasonal jobs. Data is handled in different places and at different times. The work achieved by this project will facilitate better data management.”


-Héloïse de Bertoli
Ville en Vert

“This protocol will allow us to quantify our food waste reduction efforts. It will also have a positive impact on food insecurity in our neighbourhood. In the future, we will use the data generated by the tool as indicators to set food waste reduction objectives.”


-Catherine Cyr
Comité des Organismes Sociaux de Saint-Laurent


Additional Documents

Community based tools / Outils communautaires Saint-Laurent – USER’S GUIDE TO THE TOOL [English] Saint-Laurent – GUIDE D’UTLISATION DE L’OUTIL [Français] Bordeaux-Cartierville – USER’S GUIDE TO THE TOOL [English] Bordeaux-Cartierville – GUIDE D’UTLISATION DE L’OUTIL [Français] West Island – Food Producer and Distributor Survey Methodology [English] L’Ouest-de-l’Île – Technique d’enquête pour les travailleurs et travailleuses...


Building a data collection plan for urban agriculture activities Several commercial and community-run urban agriculture initiatives have recently been created in Bordeaux-Cartierville. The network sought to create a set of indicators and data collection mechanisms to better understand their activities across the neighbourhood. Existing tools were adapted and simplified for their context, resulting in a...

Eastern Montreal

Assessing the reach and relevance of an online mapping tool in the East End The East End of Montreal is diverse and industrialized, has a high prevalence of poverty, and poor access to food and mobility. The Réseau alimentaire de L’Est was created to address the need for greater communication and coordination between community groups...

Food Map

A major contribution of Dawson’s Food Justice & Sustainability Hub is the construction of a database which includes approximately 14,000 food-related points across the entire Montreal food system. This database feeds directly into the Food Map of Montreal, which provides interactive information regarding food accessibility and availability for local communities and individuals. This map is...


Creating local synergies for community food procurement Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is a historically working-class neighbourhood with an established community network. To address food insecurity and align initiatives, the community partner wanted to create an inventory of existing infrastructures managed by the community sector: kitchens, trucks, storage. In this case, the roundtable reviewed and vetted an existing survey....


Engaging with food store owners from culturally diverse communities LaSalle is a historically working class, highly industrialized, and isolated borough in the south-west of Montreal. Gentrification is leading to exclusion and disparities. The community partners determined that there is a need to assess how food retailers could engage underserved immigrant communities in the area. Dawson’s...


Creating a protocol to measure food recovery and meal preparation To address poverty and food deserts, community groups in Saint-Laurent are working around a shared vision of an inclusive, sustainable, and solidarity-based food system. New food production and recovery initiatives needed to be streamlined and lacked data about their operations. A management tool was created...

West Island

Learning about commercial food production and distribution This large territory consists of low-density suburbia interspersed with farmland and pockets of poverty. Local groups wanted to understand how food is grown in the West Island, how it is transported and sold to West Island grocery stores and consumers, and how this food is disposed of. Existing...

Last Modified: August 1, 2023