April 7, 2011
Agricultural research and knowledge networks leader Professor Ralph Martin has been appointed the Loblaw Companies Limited Chair in Sustainable Food Production at the University of Guelph, following a year-long international search.
The chair — funded by a $3-million gift from Loblaw— will form the foundation of the university’s research on strengthening food production systems. A Canadian first, this position will lead change in food production systems through education, research, practice and outreach within the context of the essential elements of sustainability, the environment, communities and the economy.
"This is a very important and distinctive position, and far from a traditional academic chair," said Alastair Summerlee, president of the University of Guelph. "It was designed to be a portal for knowledge on the complex and diverse topic of sustainable food.”
Martin, a plant and animal sciences professor at Nova Scotia Agricultural College, will begin advancing sustainable food production education and practices this month.
"Our goal is to establish a global centre of excellence, bringing the best ideas and minds together to make Canada a world leader in sustainable food production," said Galen G. Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw. "We are excited by Ralph's appointment as we continue to support partnerships like this, in order to develop long-term solutions to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for Canadians."
Martin has been a professor at NSAC since 1990 and is director of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada. Founded in 2001 and the only institution of its kind in the country, it is a leader in organic research and education. In 2010 he launched Canada's Organic Science Cluster, the first federally funded program of its type.
As chair, Martin will also lead a national program in sustainable local food production, organize roundtables on the topic and create an industry advisory group to guide novel curriculum development. He is also expected to coordinate researchers in agriculture and food production, and lead public and private sector collaboration.
GRD Views: Looks like Loblaw is putting their money where their customers' mouths are with this meaningful funding initiative. The research done in this program will serve the consumer, the academic community and ultimately Loblaw.-- John Failla for Green Retail Decisions