An interview with Bishop’s University ecologist Vivian Valencia
By Douglas Nadler
Last November I attended a presentation by Vivian Valencia entitled “Socio-ecological perspectives on food system transformation: how can we move together towards a more sustainable future?” There was a large and enthusiastic audience.
I have long believed that showcasing positive transformational initiatives in world food systems is what is needed to inspire new and traditional farmers to take the lead in protecting biodiversity as well as to target and diminish climate disruptions. It was at Vivian’s talk that I learned that she was going to begin teaching at Bishop’s University this winter. We welcome her to the community and we are excited to have her “lighthouse farming” research and experiences permeate the rich humus of the Eastern Townships and beyond.
Vivian, can you please tell us what brought you recently to teach and do research at Bishop’s?
My two passions: family and research. My family is Canadian—my husband, a Canadian diplomat, grew up in Quebec City. Both my children (2 years old and 10 months old) were born in the Netherlands, but they too are Canadian. (Maybe one day I’ll be Canadian too!) After the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of the war in Ukraine, we decided it was time to go home, so we relocated to Canada from the Netherlands. Over there I was an assistant professor at Wageningen University, one of the largest agricultural and life sciences universities in the world. It so happened that timing was fantastic: as we were moving back, Bishop’s University were inaugurating their Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program and along with it they were recruiting a Research Chair in Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. It was a perfect match! They wanted someone who could push the research frontiers in sustainable agriculture, and my vision to search for inspiring examples to guide the way forward in transforming our agri-food systems “intrigued” them (as expressed later to me in their own words).