Recap: Always in Season Community of Practice Session

On August 20, 2020 the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice webinar highlighted the new Always in Season Toolkit. Participants heard how different communities have introduced initiatives to help strengthen their agri-food sector.

The Always in Season toolkit is designed to help guide communities through potential activities, key performance metrics, funding opportunities, and ways to collaborate to support the agri-food sector. The toolkit is available in both French and English and provides resources for community organizations and municipalities to help them strengthen the role of local food in the community. The toolkit shows users how to:

  • Identify useful tools for supporting and promoting local food
  • Identify sources of funding
  • Understand important policies
  • Identify and measure success

5 initiatives from across Ontario were discussed in the webinar:

1. Northeast Bites. The Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance developed the Northeast Bites initiative to create taste experiences featuring Northern agri-food products. The program consists of developing unique recipes and showcasing these recipes at local events to help connect consumers with local products and to help boost sales of Northern Ontario processors.

2. Town of Georgina – Field to Table. The Field to Table event pivoted to a virtual experience this year. The virtual event allowed viewers to see behind the scenes access to farms, interact live with farmers and view farm tours. This event proved to be a great educational experience for both the participants and the farmers; boosting local food sales and encouraging farm organizations to expand their online presence.

3. Kawartha Lakes – Kawartha Farmfest. Kawartha Farmfest is an annual one-day, self-guided driving tour of farms and rural attractions throughout Kawartha Lakes. Kawartha Farmfest is planning a shift to a scheduled visitation model through online registration controlling the number of persons at each site at a time, some reduction the number of sites and hands-on activities plus enhanced safety measures to continue to allow participants to enjoy the event while practicing social distancing.  

4. Farm & Food Care Ontario – Farm to Facebook. A series of virtual real-time farm tours are facilitated through Facebook to encourage consumers to interact with local farmers. These farm tours allow participants and farmers to engage in a Q&A session and learn more about local food production.

5. Ontario Federation of Agriculture Feeding Your Future. This project toolkit helps agri-food employers and job seekers connect through a job matching concierge service, free virtual career fairs, a webinar series discussing specialized training opportunities. This project is rapidly developing a support system for employers, while creating new job prospects for Ontarians.

If you would like to learn more about the Always in Season toolkit, the initiatives discussed, or access a recording of the webinar, please visit this Webpage.

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