I am a rural geographer at the University of Guelph in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Geomatics. My primary research interests relate to how various types and processes of change are altering rural places and spaces in Canada and elsewhere. While it might have been clear at one time that the purpose of the countryside was for primary production, today that is no longer so clear. Many of the changes that have affected society as a whole in recent decades have imprinted themselves on the rural landscape and have altered the nature of economic activity, the demographics of rural communities and the composition of “influential voices” in the governance of rural affairs. In some respects the contemporary countryside has become a canvas on which a wide variety social, economic and governance issues are playing out.
Over the past several years I, along with talented graduate students with whom I've been privileged to work, have been investigating how various food initiatives are forming and redefining producer-consumer relations and even the purpose of rural space. My collaborators and I have been looking at the Farmers’ Market as a site of local food trade, the formation of local food networks, the re-orientation of rural space around amenity and consumption, and the emerging environmental importance of re-localizing food (e.g. carbon costs and food miles).