Developing solutions to food insecurity and food waste through application of computer science.

Farm To Fork began in early 2012 as a conversation between co-founders Dr. Daniel Gillis and Danny Williamson as a means to demonstrate the ability of average citizens to make social change possible.

Working with the University of Guelph’s Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship/Research Shop, the Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table, and local Emergency Food Providers (EFPs), the conversation evolved into a project framework.

In September of 2012, Dr. Gillis presented the project to his 3rd year Computer Science students. Normally tasked with developing a computer game, the students immediately saw the benefit of working with the community on Farm To Fork. Attendance rates for the class averaged 96%. Students were passionate, engaged, and committed to the project.

During the winter semester of 2013, several students continued developing the Farm To Fork project. At that time, a social media campaign was launched to spread awareness of Farm To Fork within the Guelph Wellington region. Beyond expectations, the Farm To Fork project immediately drew interest and praise from across Ontario, Canada, the United States, and even Europe. The students had struck a chord; everyone who heard of the project knew that it was bigger than Guelph-Wellington.

Between January and October of 2013, senior undergraduate students (Corey Alexander, Lee-Jay Cluskey-Belanger, Oliver Cook, Benjamin Katznelson, Justin Tempelman, and Jennifer Winer) continued development on the website. During this time, they also presented the work at several conferences and community events (e.g. DemoCamp Guelph, IgniteGuelph, Guelph-Wellington Poverty Task Force, Community University Expo, Teaching & Learning Innovations Conference, and the Hillside Music Festival to name a few), and produced one poster and two peer-reviewed papers. Dr. Gillis has also been invited to speak at several events to describe the project.

The website (Farm-To-Fork.ca) officially launched on October 3rd, 2013. To celebrate, the Farm To Fork team hosted a launch event at Innovation Guelph. More than 120 people attended the event, including Guelph’s Mayor Farbridge, and MPP Liz Sandals. The night included a keynote presentation by University of Guelph’s Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production Ralph Martin, as well as presentations by various community groups. The TasteReal organization also presented the Farm To Fork team with a $1000 donation from proceeds raised at this year’s Field Dinner.

Since launch, the project has expanded into the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Further expansion is expected through 2017. A mobile app is currently under development, with expected release in early 2017. The project has also been awarded over $12000 from the Elevator Project, over $9300 from the Better Planet Project, and over $40000 in community donations. Funding has been used to support students through stipends, and summer internships.

Dr. Gillis, Danny Williamson, Corey Alexander, Lee-Jay Cluskey-Belanger, and Oliver Cook were all awarded the Guelph Mercury’s 40 Under 40 award in 2014, and 2015. Corey, Lee-Jay, and Oliver were also awarded the University of Guelph Student Life’s Be a the Change Award in 2015. Our community partners – Kate Vsetula and Lisa Needham – also received the Emily Hayes Community Partnership Award for their work on the Farm To Fork project. 

For more information, click here.


Related Publications, Posters, and Presentations

  • Gillis, D. 2014. Fostering Innovation for Food Security via Computer Science and Community Engaged Scholarship. 4th Annual Knowledge Exchange Share Fair, Guelph. (contributed presentation, presented by Anne Bergen)
  • Gillis, D. 2014. How Can Computer Geeks Bridge the Gap. Bigger Picture Series, Guelph. (invited talk)
  • Gillis, D. 2014. Computer Science and Community Engaged Scholarship. Dalian Nationalities Seminar Series, Dalian, China. (invited talk).
  • Gillis, D. 2014. Food Insecurity: How Computer Science Can Help. NRC and OPHA’s 2014 Annual Conference, Ottawa. (contributed poster – did not attend)
  • Gillis, D. 2013. KTT: How Community Engagement in a 3rd Year Computer Science Class Addressed Food Insecurity. The Knowledge Transfer & Translation Community of Practice. September 2013. (invited presentation)
  • Alexander, C., Cluskey-Belanger, L., Cook, O., Tempelman, J., Winer, J., Gillis, D. (2013). Developing an Online System To Facilitate Community University Engagement. CPES Undergraduate Poster Session. (contributed poster)
  • Alexander, C., Cluskey-Belanger, L., Cook, O., Tempelman, J., Winer, J., Gillis, D. (2013). Farm To Fork: A Community Engaged Project. CPES Undergraduate Poster Session. (contributed poster)
  • Cluskey-Belanger, L-J., Alexander, C., Katnzelson, B., Williamson, D., Gillis, D. (2013). Farm To Fork. Hillside Festival, July 2013. (contributed presentation)
  • Cluskey-Belanger, L-J., Katznelson, B., Alexander, C., Vsetula, K., Williamson, D., Gillis, D. (2013). From Farm To Fork: Community Engaged Scholarship in the Classroom. CUExpo13, June 2013. (contributed presentation)
  • Gillis, D. (2013). Alternative Pedagogies: Learning through Community Engaged Research Partnerships. Community Engagement: Pedagogy, Partnership & Practices Conference, University of Guelph, May 1, 2013. (invited panel)
  • Cluskey-Belanger, L-J., Katnzelson, B., Williamson, D., Gillis, D. (2013). Community Engaged Scholarship: The Farm To Fork Project, or How a Third Year Computer Science Class Took on Food Security. Community Engagement: Pedagogy, Partnership & Practices Conference, University of Guelph, May 1, 2013. (contributed presentation)
  • Williamson, D., Gillis, D. (2013). How to Save the Universe. IgniteGuelph 2013, April 23, 2013. (contributed presentation)
  • Cluskey-Belanger, L-J., Katznelson, B., Williamson, D., Gillis, D. (2013). Farm To Fork: DemoCamp, Guelph, ON. (contributed presentation)
  • Cluskey-Belanger, L-J., Katznelson, B., Williamson, D., Gillis, D. (2013). Farm To Fork: An Overview of a Community-Engaged Project to Address Food Security in Guelph. Guelph-Wellington Food Round Table. (invited presentation)

Farm To Fork Team Members

  • Dr. Daniel Gillis (School of Computer Science, Co-founder)
  • Danny Williamson (Co-founder)
  • Corey Alexander (Senior Developer)
  • Lee-Jay Cluskey-Belanger (Senior Developer)
  • Oliver Cook (Senior Developer)
  • Chris Katsaras (Junior Developer)
  • Dominic Gagne (Junior Developer)
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