Lobby Gallery Exhibition – Nature & Nourishment: The Agrobiodiversity and Food Security Nexus

Friday September 20, 2019

A Colourful Display

A COLOURFUL DISPLAY, Negros Occidental, Philippines, by Amber Heckelman

Drop by the Liu Institute Lobby Gallery between now and September 20th, 2019 to enjoy our latest Lobby Gallery exhibition, Nature & Nourishment: The Agrobiodiversity and Food Security Nexus.

Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm
Diversified Agroecosystems Cluster
Photo Gallery Team Members: Amber Heckelman, Matthew Mitchell, Laura Morillas, Hannah Wittman

We are what feeds us…

Agrobiodiversity includes all of the genetic, species, ecosystem, and cultural diversity, and associated local knowledge, that occurs within agricultural landscapes and food systems. Food security is the condition where all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their cultural food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy lifestyle. Food sovereignty brings these together – as a set of practices, processes, and policy frameworks that ensures the rights of Indigenous peoples, farmers, fishing communities, urban dwellers and regional governance bodies to foster ecologically and socially just food systems. This exhibit tells this story. Worldwide, agrobiodiversity plays a critical role in the production of food, maintenance of human livelihoods and biocultural traditions, and is essential to protect the resilient ability of communities to sustain culturally and ecologically diverse landscapes for food sovereignty.

The exhibit takes you around the world through the eyes of food systems researchers to explore the agrobiodiversity-food security nexus. In photographs from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, two key messages emerge from the images. The first is one of concern and warning. Agricultural biodiversity is critical to food production and the ecosystem services that agricultural landscapes provide, and loss of this diversity will have significant and far-reaching negative consequences. The second is hopeful and courageous. People globally are working diligently and enthusiastically to understand, conserve, and increase agrobiodiversity to create a more resilient and food sovereign future.

The images presented here demonstrate the inextricable role humans play in stewarding and augmenting agrobiodiversity. From farmers and researchers nestled in diversified farming systems, to colorful markets in city and rural landscapes, the diversity of images is deliberate and intentional. Viewers will see mosaic landscapes, field-level cultivation of multiple crops, innovative urban agriculture initiatives, cultural traditions, and ceremonies associated with agricultural diversity, along with examples of participatory methods to increase crop diversity. Other images highlight specific aspects of agricultural biodiversity – including key groups of species such as pollinators, beneficial insects, birds, and mammals that are significant to maintaining healthy agricultural ecosystems.

What are the relationships between agrobiodiversity and food security? This critical question is central to and motivates each of the photographs in this exhibit. Each image illustrates a different link between the organisms that makeup agricultural systems, the people who live and work in these landscapes, and the food that they coproduce. The exhibit conveys the diversity of interconnections between people and nature that are embodied in the food that each of us consumes every day.


SUNSET OVER UBC FARM. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm

Gallery Contributors

Aerin Jacob is a conservation scientist at the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Based in Canmore, Alberta, she conducts and communicates applied research to inform conservation that helps people and nature to thrive.

Amber Heckelman is a Ph.D. Candidate at UBC’s Faculty of Land & Food Systems and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. She is committed to creating sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems through public scholarship and knowledge mobilization. Her dissertation research centres on exploring pathways and barriers to smallholder resilience in the Philippines.

Amy Panikowski is an American freelance researcher and consultant (B.S. Biology; M.A. Geography) currently living in South Africa. She focuses on human-environmental interactions, conservation development, gender development, and participatory science.

Andrea Reid is a Nisga’a fisheries scientist and conservation biologist, and Ph.D. Candidate affiliated with the Department of Biology at Carleton University and the Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences at UBC. As an Explorer with the National Geographic Society, a Fellow of The Explorers Club, a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Aboriginal Ambassador, and the 2019 Partners in Research Young Researcher Ambassador, Andrea has significant experience leading community-engaged research and outreach around the globe.

Aspen Ono is a Masters Student at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, researching environmental justice and immigrant populations. Aspen’s past research allowed her to live, work, and engage with local communities around the world, including India and Kenya on issues of community resilience and environmental justice.

Barbara Gemmill-Herren (Ph.D. in Ecology, University of California) served as Manager for Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Within FAO, she built and coordinated a global project on pollination services, implemented in Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Nepal and contributed to FAO’s new focus on agroecology. She has been a contributor to the UN initiative “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food” – exploring True Cost Accounting in Agriculture – and led the “Beacons of Hope” initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

Chris Hergesheimer holds a Ph.D. from the Faculty of Land & Food Systems at UBC and a M.A. in Sociology from Simon Fraser University. His Ph.D. work revolved around the relationship between food sovereignty and fair trade in high value fruit chains. These days he is busy performing economic development services as Program Manager for the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization.

Colin Shanley is a wildlife biologist in Alaska. His research broadly explores the intersection of applied ecology and natural resource conservation utilizing geospatial tools and quantitative modeling. Colin’s science and art are inspired by wild landscapes and cultures of place.

Dana James is a Ph.D. Candidate at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. She is also a UBC Public Scholar using transdisciplinary research methods to investigate the enabling and constraining factors for agroecological transitions in Brazil.

Danny Karp is an Assistant Professor at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on harmonizing conservation and food production across working landscapes, both in temperate and tropical agroecosystems.

Devon Sampson is an agroecology researcher and community organizer based in Oaxaca, Mexico who is fascinated with the complexity and beauty of diverse farms. His research explores the many ways farmers use agrobiodiversity to build food security and healthy nutrition outcomes. Devon is a principal researcher at Polyculture Research and Media and co-producer of Delicious Revolution, a radio show and podcast about food movements.

Evan Bowness is a Ph.D. Candidate at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability studying urban agriculture and food movements in Canada and Brazil. He is a UBC Public Scholar who uses visual methods, including video-making and photography in his research. He is also an instructor at the University of Manitoba where he teaches courses in visual sociology and film.

Ilyas Siddique is Professor of Agroecosystems at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil, teaching agroecology, agroforestry, ecological weed management, research synthesis, epistemology, science methods and communication. Active engagement in knowledge systems dialogue among ecology, social science, technical practitioners, and indigenous/peasant knowledge encouraged Ilyas to promote synergies among food sovereignty, on-farm conservation of agrobiodiversity, and productive tropical forest restoration, most recently as coordinator of the Network of Agroecological Agroforestry of Southern Brazil.

Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) of Jambi branch is an organization of peasants in the Jambi provinces. SPI Jambi is part of a nationwide peasant organization focused on agrarian reform, peasant rights, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture. Currently, SPI is active in eleven provinces in Indonesia, including North Sumatra, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Jambi, Lampung, Banten, Yogyakarta, Central Java, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara. The SPI is also a member of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina. 

Maayan Kreitzman is a Ph.D. candidate at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability. She studies the agronomic and environmental outcomes of woody perennial food production and the role of perennial staple crops in the current and future food system.

Matthew Mitchell is a postdoctoral research fellow at UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. His research focuses on how to manage human-dominated agricultural and urban landscapes for ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Sean Kearney studied ecosystem service synergies and trade-offs resulting from agroforestry and organic management of smallholder maize and bean production in northern El Salvador. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Integrated Remote Sensing Studio at UBC, where he is analyzing the effects of landscape change and anthropogenic activity on grizzly bear behaviour and health in western Alberta, Canada.

Sean Smukler is Associate Professor in Applied Biology & Soil Science and the Junior Chair of Agriculture and the Environment for UBC’s Faculty of Land & Food Systems. His research is focused on working with farmers, and other managers of agricultural landscapes to find ways to better monitor, protect and enhance biodiversity and the availability of ecosystem services.

Sieglinde Snapp is Professor of Soils and Cropping Systems Ecology at Michigan State University, and Associate Director of the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations. For over two decades she has conducted action learning with farmers and interdisciplinary students and scholars, from Malawi to Michigan. Sieglinde is deeply committed to agroecology education and extension, integrated with adaptive research for sustainable lands and livelihoods.

The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm is a research centre and local-to-global food hub working towards a more sustainable, food-secure future. Photos of activities at the farm were taken by various contributors, including Duncan McHugh, Martin Dee, the BC Association of Farmers Markets, and others.

Yudi Bachri is a Ph.D. Student at the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Bern. He is also a lecturer in the History Department at the University of Indonesia and a researcher at the Agrarian Resources Center in Bandung, Indonesia.

Zulfi Saeful graduated from Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Sunan Gunung Djati Bandung, majoring in Islamic History and Civilization. He is currently an active researcher at the Agrarian Resources Center (ARC) Bandung, Indonesia.


Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies; the Liu Institute for Global Issues; the UBC VPRI Research Excellence Cluster Program; Emily Amburgey and Rosaleen McAfee for help with curation; and Lindsay Marsh for promotion. We also thank the numerous people, farmers, organizations, and funding agencies who made the research projects displayed here possible.


GOGO & UMUTHI (GRANDMOTHER & MEDICINE), Mbonglowane, South Africa, by Amy Panikowski

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