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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 18, 2017
Canadian Excellence
Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer

Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer

Associate Professor

Contact Information
Email: |
Phone: 519-884-0710 ext.2604

Office Location: 3E5, Arts

Personal Website:
Languages Spoken


Alison Blay-Palmer ( is an Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University where she does research in alternative food systems and sustainable economic development. Her book, ‘Food fears: From industrial to sustainable food systems’, will be published by Ashgate Press in the spring of 2008. Her most recent journal papers are published in Economic Geography, Environment and Planning A and C, and the Canadian Journal of Regional Science. Alison is a former Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, and has received awards for teaching and faculty activism. Her most recent projects include work to develop a Report Card for sustainable food systems in Canada and a food re-localization study. She teaches courses in Global Food Security, Globalization and Research Methods.

Dr. Blay-Palmer has over a decade of research experience related to sustainable food systems.  While her early research focused on innovation and policy in sustainable food systems, more recent work uses the broader lens of food systems as a vehicle for building healthy communities.  The last three projects she completed were directly related to healthy food systems.  In the first research project Drs. Donald and Blay-Palmer conducted research to explore clustered innovative activity in the Toronto alternative food and beverage industry.  As part of a multi-year SSHRC MCRI this project revealed gaps in networks for alternative food producers, processors, distributors and retailers as well as social cohesion opportunities.  In the second project conducted for the Prince Edward, Lennox and Addington (PELA) and Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDC), Alison identified food re-localization opportunities for communities in eastern Ontario. The research points to differences across space and the positive social, economic and environmental synergies that can emerge from the re-localization of Canadian food systems.  In her most recent project, Dr. Blay-Palmer’s SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship, interviews were conducted with food experts as the starting point for the creation of a Sustainable Food Systems report card.  Dr. Blay-Palmer’s current project ‘Capitalizing on connections: Building stronger networks for PELA and beyond’ explores social and professional connections in PELA and beyond. This research project was undertaken in conjunction with PELA CFDC and the Moneison Research Institute at the Queen’s School of Business. 
Alison was the academic coordinator for the spring 2007 workshop at Queen’s University entitled, ‘Critical Spaces of Food’.  The workshop attracted scholars and practitioners from across Canada and Wales. The May 7-9 2008 ‘Imagining sustainable food systems’ workshop will build on the synergies established in the 2007 workshop.


Dr. Blay-Palmer’s teaching expertise is in human geography and environmental studies.  Her focus is on sustainable development, economic development, rural and agrarian systems and public policy.  She draws teaching examples from economies around the world, although my emphasis is on North American and UK contexts.

Alison teaches courses in Economic Geography, Global Food Security, Research Methods, Introductory Human Geography, and Agrarian Transformation.  Dr. Blay-Palmer won the Teacher of the Year Award in the School of Environmental Sciences at Queen’s University in 2004-2005. 

Publications and Conference Presentations

Blay-Palmer, A. (forthcoming) Food Fears: From Industrial to sustainable food systems.  Submitted under contract to Ashgate Publishing, publication scheduled May, 2008.

Donald, B. and Blay-Palmer, A. (forthcoming) The Toronto creative-food economy. In R. Dennis (ed.) The Canadian Metropolis.  Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, School of Advanced Study.

Blay-Palmer, A. 2007. Relational Local Food Networks: The Farmers’ Market @ Queen’s. In M. Koc and K. Bronson (eds.) Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Food Studies, McGraw Hill, Toronto, pp 111-120.

*Blay-Palmer, A. and Donald, B. (2007).  Manufacturing fear: The role of food processors and retailers in constructing alternative food geographies.  In M. Kneafsey, L. Holloway and D. Maye (eds.) Constructing ‘Alternative’ Food Geographies: Representation and Practice, Elsevier Press (accepted).

*Blay-Palmer, A. (2007) Who is minding the store? Innovation Strategy, the social good and agro-biotechnology research in Canada Canadian Journal of Regional Science. 30(1): 39-56.

*Betsy Donald et Alison Blay-Palmer. 2007. Manger biologique a l'ére de l'insécurité. Lien social et Politique- RIAC, 57, Printemps 2007, pages 63-73.

Blay-Palmer, A. 2007. The Farmers’ Market @ Queen’s: Building relational networks. Guelph Organic Conference University of Guelph, January.

*Blay-Palmer, A. and B. Donald. 2006. A Tale of Three Tomatoes: the new food economy in Toronto, Canada Economic Geography, vol. 82 (4): 383-399.

*Donald, B. and A. Blay-Palmer. 2006. The Urban Food Economy: cultural consumption for the urban elite or social inclusion opportunity? Environment and Planning A, vol. 38 (10): 1901-1920.

Blay-Palmer, A., Dwyer, M. and Miller, J. 2006. Sustainable communities: Building local foodshed capacity through improved farm to fork links.  Report prepared for Frontenac and Lennox-Addington Community Futures Development Corporations, 73 pages, available online at:

*Blay-Palmer, A. 2005. Growing innovation policy: the case of organic agriculture in Ontario, Canada Environment and Planning C, vol.  23(10): 557-581.

Donald, B. and Blay Palmer, A. 2004. The Greater Toronto Specialty Food and Beverage Industry, report for the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, 14 pages

*Smithers, J. and Blay-Palmer, A. 2001. Technology innovation as a strategy for climate adaptation in agriculture.  Applied Geography 21(2): 175-197.

A. Blay-Palmer and J. Smithers. 2000. Technology Innovation and the Management of Climatic Risk in Soybean Production in Ontario.  Report prepared for the Atmospheric Environment Service, Environmental Adaptation Research Group, Environment Canada, 17 pages.

Invited (*) / accepted paper presentations

Blay-Palmer, A. 2008. Structural and regulatory reform: Lessons from the UK.  Association of American Geographers Annual Conference.  April 15 20, Boston.

Blay-Palmer, A. 2007. Relational Local Food Networks: The Farmers’ Market @ Queen’s. Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, San Francisco,

* Blay-Palmer, A. 2006. Growing opportunities?: The Guelph-Toronto Food Innovation Corridor, Invited Speaker: International Food Health and Innovation Conference, Malmo Sweden, October 25-27.

Blay-Palmer, A. 2006. Growing opportunities: Food re-localization strategies in Kingston, Ontario.  Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society Conference: Place, Taste, and Sustenance: The Social Spaces of Food and Agriculture, June 7 - June 11, Boston University, Boston.

* Blay-Palmer, A. 2006. Sustainable Communities.  Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Frontenac – Lennox Addington Sponsored Growing Opportunities Conference.  Napanee, Ontario, April 5.

Blay-Palmer, A..2005. Spaces of fear and hope in North American food Systems, Royal Geographic Society Annual International Conference, London UK, August 31 – September 2.

* Blay-Palmer, A. 2005. Invited Postdoctoral Participant. 2005 Canada-UK Colloquium: ‘Cities and National Success.’ Cardiff, Wales. 

* Blay-Palmer, A. 2005. Renewing an old cluster in a transforming region: the case of Toronto’s food industry.  PROGRIS seminar, University of Toronto, Munk Centre for International Studies, March 3, 2005.

Blay-Palmer, A. and Donald, B. 2003. The Specialty Food Case Study in the GTA: Provincial Policy Implications.  Presented at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade/ Ontario Network on the Regional Innovation System/ Cluster Development: What are the Policy Implications for the Provincial Government? Workshop, October 30, 2003, Toronto, Ontario.