Planning a 2-day regional local food event is no easy task, especially when it includes:
- three separate culinary tours
- a local food reception, and
- a full day program that with a dozen sessions and thirty-seven speakers
The planning process takes time, an incredibly skilled and committed team, and fantastic host communities.
Luckily, this year’s Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference had all these elements, resulting in an ambitious, inspiring program that was delivered to over 200 attendees. The event took place on November 13 and 14, and was co-hosted by the City of Cornwall and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. The theme, “Growing Communities Together”, was demonstrated through the program, which included French and English resources, and topics that integrated Canadian-newcomer and Indigenous perspectives.
Here are some highlights from this year’s conference:
- Three sold-out tours on November 13th gave businesses a chance to showcase their products to out-of-towners. One of the tours included stops in the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne. Local guide and Environmental Science Officer, Abraham Francis, coordinated an informative and inspiring experiential view of the community.
- Day two opened with a Thanksgiving Address delivered by eleven-year-old Tehohahiio Pyke-Rowe, which was introduced by Abraham Francis. This address, also called “words that come before all else”, (Ohenton Karihwatehkwen) is an important Haudenosaunee teaching that is recited before and after all important meetings or decisions. The Thanksgiving Address acknowledges the interconnectedness and interdependence of creation, with the intension of fostering respect for all of earth’s beings.
- A keynote speaker that every Canadian needs to hear, Tareq Hadhad of Peace by Chocolate, recounted his journey from Syria to Canada as a refugee. Settling in Antigonish, NS, the Hadhad family now operates a thriving chocolate business that has created over 50 new jobs and inspired people across the country. His message of entrepreneurship, welcoming communities and global peace was meaningful and moving.
A lasting impact
The Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference is more than an enjoyable time talking about food. It creates connections that benefit the participants over time.
Participants counted a total of 225 new or renewed connections/partnerships that will benefit their business or organization, resulting from the conference.
Attendees anticipate additional investments of $386,000 and 69 new jobs, due to new or expanded initiatives that began at the conference.
When it was over, we all made many new friends. And that’s an outcome that lasts.
Learn more about the Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference here: http://www.eastontlocalfood.com/