Tara has worked to enhance urban food systems and regional food economies in both Canada and the United States since 1995. As Director of Community Economic Development Programs at LIFE*SPIN in Ontario, Canada and, later, as Executive Director of SEEDS, Inc in North Carolina, USA, Tara led these organizations to develop innovative social enterprises that integrate and meet their members’ needs for food self-sufficiency, employment and neighborhood improvement, while also strengthening local food supply chains.
Since 2005, Tara has led the Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) in Vancouver, Canada as Executive Director. With a mission to “transform our global food system by creating and nurturing a local, sustainable and vibrant marketplace for our community, environment and economy”, VFM is best described as a community-controlled local food distribution system: a multi-market network that produces powerful impacts for Vancouver’s regional food and social economy. After a decade of growth, Vancouver Farmers Markets’ 9 weekly markets now support over 200 farmers and value-added food processors – some of which are also social enterprises and cooperatives, sees 20 000 customers each week, generates $13M for the local economy and contributes to the viability of 16 000 acres of regional farmland.
Tara holds a Master’s degree from the University of Western Ontario and serves on numerous boards, councils and action groups focused on enhancing local, sustainable food systems and people’s access to them.