Come to the 8th annual Food for Thought!

Sample delicious local food and drinks from more than 20 vendors on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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Living Locally

Building the Local Economy - One Connection at a Time

July 27, 2017

Calgary is a resilient city. Our western heritage, “can-do” attitude and entrepreneurial spirit make the fabric of our city strong.

It is this resiliency that has seen Calgary through a number of tough economic times, and the last couple of years have been some of the most challenging to date. True to our roots, Calgarians have risen to the occasion - stepping up and stepping forward to push through one of the city’s most challenging times, support each other, and find paths toward a new, thriving, and more sustainable economy. We’re thrilled to say that REAP has been part of the evolution.

REAP was founded with a vision for a localized economy that would foster community connections and generate positive impacts both socially and economically. Ten years into our journey, and with greater verve and expediency than ever, we are seeing that founding vision become reality. We’ve done it through innovative programming that’s been tested and tweaked, continually evolving year over year, for maximum impact.

The economy as it’s been the last few years is a natural catalyst for change, and we’ve been at our work long enough now to make real strides toward building a strong local economy that also has incredible power to create social change. For an entire decade, we’ve been building a network of local businesses owned by socially mindful entrepreneurs, and in that time we’ve seen our membership grow exponentially - from a founding group of just three businesses to a conglomerate of more than 150 - entrepreneurs who are as conscientious about community as they are about profitability. We believed when we started that Calgarians were ready for a movement toward a more local economy, and today, we know they are.

We know because we know the numbers, and as the facts of our accomplishments have tallied up, we’ve grown even more confident in our values and what we stand for. Being local matters. Being local makes a difference. Being local means advantages to our economy, our communities, and our planet. REAP programming is all about connecting local, socially-minded business owners with each other, and with customers who want to support them in their business and their cause.

REAP fosters connections in many ways, not the least of which is through meaningful conversation and a celebration of shared values at our events. Sustainability for Breakfast brings Calgarians together each month for learning and networking on a variety of topics related to growing a local, sustainable economy. Our Meetup page has more than 2,200 people subscribed and our average rating over the past year of events is 4.9 out of five.

Down to Earth Week is REAP’s annual spring festival, which helps Calgarians create more positive impact through food, finance, and social innovation. We’re still compiling data from Down To Earth 2017, but in 2016, the series increased awareness of local business among attendees by over 20%, and generated more than 1,600 new business connections across four events. The mean average revenue of REAP-related business connections for our members is $34,543 - which means REAP events do a lot to help boost bottom lines.

Food for Thought is our fall harvest celebration where local restaurants are paired with local food producers in a delicious showcase of talent and dedication. This year it takes place on Wednesday, September 13th at Hotel Arts as the opening reception for a national conference on building strong local economies: EconoUs2017.

At last year’s Food For Thought event, 290 guests enjoyed food and beverages prepared by 44 paired-up local restaurants and food producers. For every ticket sold, our member Mealshare provided one meal to a child in need, which means 290 children were fed as a result of the event. Volunteers intercepted guests with surveys, and respondents almost unanimously said they came to eat delicious local, organic food and to learn about local businesses. Overall guests rated the event 4.5 out of 5 for inspiring them to buy more local food, and 3.4 out of 5 for connecting them with businesses they didn't already know.

REAP’s events are intentionally designed to create organic opportunities for connection and help local business owners work collaboratively - brainstorming, sharing information and creating positive momentum. At Food For Thought, for example, we pair chefs and producers that aren’t already working together to help spark new relationships. These introductions turn into ongoing business relationships about 50% of the time. World Café techniques, PechaKucha presentations, DialogLoop and facilitated networking helps even the most introverted of guests to connect with like-minded people to share ideas, learn together, and make meaningful connections to advance their work.

If you’d like to be part of a community that employs 5,500 Calgarians, contributes $17 million annually in charitable donations, and generates $21 billion in revenue each year in support of the Alberta economy, our next event is just around the corner!


Buy a ticket to Food for Thought on Wednesday, September 13 from 5:30-8:30 pm at Hotel Arts and experience firsthand how delicious meaningful connections can be.
Own a local food business? Email for information on how to register a sampling station at this year’s Food For Thought event.
Attend EconoUS 2017 for a better understanding of the local economy movement and make new connections among business owners from across the country.
Join our Sustainability for Breakfast Meetup page to get notifications when registrations open for our fall events.
Email Stephanie Jackman, REAP founder and president, at  for more information on what REAP can do for your business.

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Did you know?

85% of Albertans are happiest when they have supportive relationships & time to do things they enjoy