Generation of a Business Model to Help Address Food and Nutrition Security in the Baie Verte Peninsula

Lay Summary 

Food and nutrition security (or lack thereof) has many implications for the physical and mental health of people who live in communities where access to sufficient nutritious food is inadequate. The Project aimed to address local food production by generating a business model for a commercially viable social enterprise, which could help provide a scalable and transferable solution to food and nutrition security in the Baie Verte Peninsula. The Project used two different but interrelated methodologies to complete the Project’s deliverables. To design the business model for the social enterprise, the Project used the lean start-up methodology. The lean start-up methodology prescribes an iterative process by which the Project formulated and validated the different problem, product, and customer hypotheses throughout the Project’s lifecycle. The lean start-up methodology is becoming a pervasive part of entrepreneurial communities although its application for social innovations has been sporadic. The Project was among the first to try this approach in the context of food and nutrition security. To help develop the proposed solution to the aforementioned problem, the Project employed the translational research & development methodology. The translational research & development methodology is a structured framework based on best practices that greatly improves the likelihood of delivering a product in time, within budget, and to specification. It explains how to initiate, plan, execute, and close a translational research & development project conducted within an academic institution with the intent of bringing a product to market.

At the heart of the business model is the value proposition, which comprises the benefits that the community can expect from the social enterprise, i.e., products and services that will help address the need for adequate and reliable access to quality and healthy produce. To help deliver the value proposition to the community, the Project designed and proposed an offering based on the urban farming solution developed by Greenspace Urban Farms—an award-winning student-operated social enterprise that offers lowest-cost alternatives to urban farming initiatives by building systems from upcycled industrial materials. These systems are highly customizable, allowing for the design of very efficient units that can use hydroponic or soil-based alternatives to provide a rich variety of crops. To help scale and transfer the proposed solution to the entire Baie Verte Peninsula (and beyond), the Project designed a path to commercialization by following an ecosystem approach. Sequencing the commercialization of an innovation based on this strategy involves three components: minimum viable footprint, staged expansion, and ecosystem carryover. The Project designed but did not implement the staged expansion and ecosystem carryover phases. These will be part of the social enterprise’s future activities.

Food and nutrition security in rural Newfoundland and Labrador is a very difficult problem. The problem has persisted over the years precisely because it resists easy solutions. The Project does not claim to have solved the problem of food and nutrition security in the Baie Verte Peninsula, far from it! The Project attempted to “make a dent in the universe” of the problem by employing and proposing new, alternatives ways of confronting and dealing with food and nutrition security in the Baie Verte Peninsula. The main contribution of the Project is the framework that it leaves behind so that the community of the Baie Verte Peninsula can start implementing alternative methods for local food production. Furthermore, this report has been written as a comprehensive guide for other communities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador to follow suit and explore this “path less traveled” that could provide the desired results where other methods have failed.

The Project Team
August 2019

See the full report here.

Civil Engineering
Thriving Regions Program
Baie Verte
Newfoundland and Labrador
Start date 
1 Sep 2018
End date 
31 Aug 2019
Support Organization 
Centre for Social Enterprise