Hidden Harvest's Transformative Potential: An Example of 'Community Economy'
Keywords:Social Enterprise, Urban Foraging, Gleaning, Community Economy, Social Return on Investment, Fruit Rescue
Drawing on an in-depth case study of Hidden Harvest Ottawa—a for-profit social enterprise that aims to legitimize and support the practice of harvesting fruits and nuts in urban areas—this article explores the transformative potential (both realized and unrealized) of place-based urban foraging. It briefly delineates the organizational model employed, including its innovative practices and strategic 5-year vision. It then explores Hidden Harvest’s transformative potential realized: notably, it reconceptualizes surplus (and thus profit); makes visible a nonmonetary social return on investment (SROI, defined as substantive contributions to building community, adaptive capacity, prosperity, social capital, and community-based food security); normalizes access to public space for food provisioning; and, finally, frames Hidden Harvest as an illustrative example of Gibson-Graham’s (2006) notions of community/alternative/ethical economy, an initiative that destabilizes dominant economic assumptions while fostering meaningful interconnection. Throughout this article, we argue that only through collective resignification of our economy can initiatives such as Hidden Harvest adequately receive the support warranted by its impact and outcomes to fully realize its potential and achieve long-term viability.
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