Serving Up Local

The Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA) has been studying and practicing local food procurement in municipally operated facilities and long-term care homes. They will be sharing results of their most recent work on Tuesday December 7, 2021 at the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice.

The first phase of their Serving Up Local project resulted in a combined increase of 23 per cent in local food purchasingin 9 long-term care homes.

With an estimated $745 million dollars spent by Ontario’s Broader Public Sector institutions annually on food and beverages, there is much opportunity to tap into the purchasing power of public institutions to help strengthen Ontario’s agricultural sector.

A second project by GHFFA, Serving Up Local II, is an economic analysis research project by the GHFFA exploring the economic impact on long term care homes who increased their local food purchasing. Research results are intended to assist the province in setting realistic goals for Broader Public Sector local food procurement under the third pillar of the Local Food Act and to shape recommendations to the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care.

Toolkit & Resources

Local food procurement reports, farm-to-fork Entrée Systems Maps, Local Produce Posters, Long-Term Care Case Studies and a Mealtime Engagement Toolkit can be found on their website: Food and Farming – Working in partnership for a vibrant food and farming cluster Food and Farming Tune in, Tuesday December 7, 2021, 10 am – 11:30 am to learn about opportunities to bring local food producers and processors together with your municipally operated facilities. We also have a Contract Specialist from MEALsource and an Ontario abattoir sharing their on-the-ground experience and recommendations. Join us by REGISTERING HERE for the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice discussion on Serving Up Local.

Teeny Tiny Summit: Resurgence Webinar – Dec 1st @ 10 AM

If there is a bright spot to be found in the COVID-19 story, it is that a foundation has been laid for a rural renaissance. As a result of shifting societal norms, we might just be able to fundamentally pivot the future of rural communities that have been plagued by outmigration and exclusion from significant economic development activity for decades. 

Geographic boundaries have essentially been erased, employers and employees alike are embracing new work models that allow job functions to be done remotely. Technologies exist in many areas to facilitate this new norm and quality of life has been widely redefined using characteristics that are uniquely suited to rural communities. Although COVID-19 may appear the perfect storm, there are opportunities as well. The question is, will rural areas take shelter from the storm or dance in the economic rain? 

The second Teeny Tiny Summit “Teeny Tiny Resurgence”, will discuss just this…how have our rural communities adapted to dance in this economic rain? Peter Kenyon, world renowned and much sought-after social entrepreneur, and rural community enthusiast will be our keynote. Peter has worked with over 1500 communities in Australia and around the world to facilitate fresh and creative ways to stimulate community and economic renewal. He has been a regular speaker at Teeny Tiny Summits and brings an inspiring approach to community economic development. He is motivated by the desire to create healthy, caring, inclusive, sustainable, and enterprising communities. 

The program will also include success stories from small places throughout the province, and opportunities to share and learn from other community leaders. The Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) has committed to multi-year support of the Teeny Tiny program allowing high quality keynote speakers to be secured for this year’s webinars, including Peter Kenyon.  

Immediately following the webinar, be sure to join our chat by searching on Twitter for #TeenyTinySummit to connect, network and share ideas on the Teeny Tiny Resurgence.  Register today on the Teeny Tiny Summit website. If you attended the October Welcoming Newcomers Teeny Tiny Summit, you will be automatically registered for the December 1st Teeny Tiny Summit webinar.

Webinar: Exporting to Mexico for Ontario Food and Beverage Manufacturers

Join OMAFRA in collaboration with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Services in Mexico on December 1st at 10 am for a one-hour webinar to learn about exporting to Mexico.

The webinar will provide interested food and beverage companies with an overview of the Mexican market, trends in the retail industry, the impact of e-commerce in retail as well as tips for exporting to Mexico and future events. The webinar will allow participants to better understand the Mexican market, the opportunities it presents, as well as learn about local resources and future trade activities in Mexico.

Mexico, a CUSMA partner, is one of Ontario’s top trading partners. Ontario exports close to $180 million to Mexico.  Sugar and confectionary, red meats and animal feeds account for close to 80 per cent of agri-foods exports from Ontario to Mexico. This growing market with a population of 130 million people is the 9th largest importer of agri-food products in the world.

Speakers will include: Trade Commissioners from the Embassy of Canada in Mexico and a local business development expert.

Food and Beverage manufacturers looking to export to Mexico can register for the webinar here:

Teeny Tiny Summit Recap – Series 1: Welcoming Newcomers

On October 13thOMAFRA partnered with the Rural Ontario Municipal Association to present the first of a series of 3 Teeny Tiny Summits.  This session featured fantastic speakers telling their experiences as newcomers in rural communities, and about tactics communities were using to welcome newcomers to their community. The speaker line up included: 

  • Don DeGenova, a very active community volunteer who was twice a newcomer to rural towns 
  • Karen Oldroyd, the Settlement Services Manager with Oxford Community Employment Services 
  • Jeff Kinsella, an OMAFRA Advisor sharing 5 ideas to welcome newcomers from SW Ontario 
  • Trevor Crowe, an OMAFRA Advisor sharing Haliburton’s experience welcoming a Syrian Refugee family, and 
  • Tareq Hadhad, our keynote speaker and founder of Peace by Chocolate, who shared his experiences coming to Canada as a refugee from war-torn Syria to the small community of Antigonish, NS. Antigonish’s welcoming attitude enabled him to re-establish the family business and become an engaged and entrepreneurial force in the community and beyond. 
Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit Recap – Series 1: Welcoming Newcomers

Upcoming Webinar: Rural Ontario’s Population Growth During COVID-19: Fad or Trend?

Join other Ontario economic development and planning professionals on Wednesday, October 27th, 2021 from 1pm to 3pm for a webinar to discuss the rural economic development impacts of the pandemic with a focus on population and housing trends.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in rural migration, demand for rural housing and rural house prices. The trend is not unique to Ontario and there are reports of similar trends occurring across Canada and the United States. While this migration has resulted in population growth and new economic development opportunities, it has also created pressures for existing rural infrastructure, housing affordability and municipal service delivery with the long-term outcomes of this migration unclear. This workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss and better understand these trends and their economic development implications.

Continue reading Upcoming Webinar: Rural Ontario’s Population Growth During COVID-19: Fad or Trend?

Register today for the Agri-Food Forum 2021 – Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector

Join us virtually on November 3 & 4th, 2021 for the 13th annual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development & Planning Forum – Agri-Food Forum 2021– Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector, co-hosted by The Regional Municipality of York and OMAFRA.

Continue reading Register today for the Agri-Food Forum 2021 – Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector

Teeny Tiny Summit

Welcoming Newcomers to Teeny Tiny Places

Key Note Speaker: Tareq Hadhad

Many of our small rural communities’ struggle to attract new residents to fill their workforce gaps and support ongoing community investment. This Teeny Tiny Summit will feature Tareq Hadhad. Tareq was once a displaced refugee who immigrated to Canada in 2015, as war gripped Syria and his home city of Damascus. Supported by a small town in Nova Scotia upon landing, Tareq and his family built an internationally successful chocolate manufacturing business called Peace By Chocolate. Tareq will share his insights on how the community of Antigonish worked together to make him and his family feel welcome, and the meaningful supports they received as newcomers to a small rural community. His story will highlight the importance of bringing newcomers to a rural community, who bring with them new skills, determination and in his case, a thriving business. Tareq will provide additional perspectives on what it’s like building a business in a small rural community and the importance of community in job creation.

Continue reading Teeny Tiny Summit

Business Retention + Expansion Program

Introducing the Refreshed OMAFRA BR+E Coordinator’s Manual

The Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) is an action-oriented and community-based program that aims to support local business growth and community development through identifying challenges and opportunities. The Program’s Four Stage Process helps to:

  • Prepare the groundwork and project team
  • Collect and analyze immediate concerns and opportunities
  • Develop goals, action plan, and data analysis
  • Implement the plan and track progress
Continue reading Business Retention + Expansion Program

Regional Economic Development blog focusing on agriculture and rural economic development for Ontario