Category Archives: Agricultural Development

Getting Ready for Ag Week – Know your regional stats!

October 7-13 is Ontario Agriculture Week; a time dedicated to celebrating the abundance of food our farmers produce, the people our industry employs, the rural communities we support and the economic engine we fuel. Many communities recognize that agriculture benefits regional economies, however, clearly communicating the contributions of the sector can be challenging. Presenting data in a compelling way and bolstering community-agriculture relations is helping communities draw attention to the crucial role agriculture plays in local economies.

Regions of Peel and Chatham-Kent offer examples, illustrating how communities can leverage data and improve the regional understanding of agriculture.


Continue reading Getting Ready for Ag Week – Know your regional stats!

Celebrating the Cultivation of Agri-food Innovation in Ontario

The 2019 Excellence in Agriculture program is open to receive applications until October 11, 2019.

The Excellence in Agriculture program recognizes agri-food innovations and advancements that demonstrate leadership, product development or technology advancement that will benefit the sector. The innovations recognized will be those that have potential to help move the agri-food sector forward, so it is better positioned to thrive here at home and on the global stage.

In addition to primary producers, processors, agri-food innovators and agri-food organizations, the 2019 Excellence in Agriculture program has a new category to recognize outstanding youth leaders in the agri-food sector. Youth under 29, who are residents of Ontario and have an innovation with a direct link to the agri-food sector, are encouraged to apply.

Application criteria can be found at ontario.ca/agrifoodinnovation.

The top innovation in each of the five categories will receive a plaque in recognition of their achievement and will be featured in a promotional video. All recipients will have access to the Excellence in Agriculture wordmark to be used for marketing and promotional purposes, and up to 15 honorable mention recipients will receive a certificate.

For further information please contact the Agricultural Information Contact Center at 1-877-424-1300

Place to Grow Guide for Applicants

Ontario’s government is helping to grow the province’s agri-food and agri-products sectors by launching the Place to Grow: Agri-food Innovation Initiative – a program which will help drive innovation, reduce red tape, and address industry priorities. This new initiative, which is comprised of ‘Funding for Sectors‘ and ‘Strategic Solutions‘, will support agriculture and food value-chain partners address emerging sector challenges and opportunities to create sector wide benefits.

Funding for Sectors

Programming Overview

Funding will support agriculture and food value chain partners by offering cost-share funding opportunities to address identified industry priorities and outcomes for Ontario in the following areas:

Protection & Assurance Environmental Stewardship Economic Development

How to Apply

Eligible applicants can apply for Funding for Sector programming beginning August 15th at which time all program details and forms will be available through the CAP website at: ontario.ca/agpartnership. This cost-share intake will remain open until Sept. 27, 2019.

Strategic Solutions

Continue reading Place to Grow Guide for Applicants

Do You Have a Water Contingency Plan?

In 2016, many areas of the province saw very warm and dry conditions. In 2017, the opposite occurred. Many areas of the province experienced excessive amounts rain, leading to saturated soils and flooding. There are many resources, including publications from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), that can help farmers manage water during low or excessive situations:

Continue reading Do You Have a Water Contingency Plan?

Become a Local Food Broader Public Sector Champion

Ontario’s local food industry impacts our economy, our environment and our culture. The local food value chain includes farmers, processors, distributors, retailers, restaurants, other food service organizations like the broader public sector, who are working to provide quality products to Ontarians.

In March of 2019, the Government of Ontario established the final goal of the Local Food Act, 2013: to remove red tape barriers and open the door for using more local food across the broader public sector (BPS). To support the goal’s success, the government developed many tools and resources including the Broader Public Sector Champions Program. Organizations are encouraged to share their local food procurement baseline with the province. Then create and track targets for increasing local food purchases, and voluntarily report back to the province how they are meeting their local food goals.

 

Certificates of Recognition from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will be awarded to participating institutions each June during Local Food Week.

What Does This Mean for you?

Broader Public Sector organizations receive funding from the Government of Ontario but are considered outside the governing body. BPS organizations that can participate in the local food Broader Public Sector Champions Program are hospitals, municipal long-term care facilities, school boards, universities or colleges, school boards, and child care centers.

As a BPS organization, you can get started today! Click here to fill out the baseline survey, or visit the Broader Public Sector Champions Program page on the OMAFRA website for more information.

Knowing where our food comes from makes it easier to support those who grow, harvest and make it, we strengthen our communities, support a sustainable environment, create jobs and boost the economy.

Let us know what local food options are available at your local healthcare centre, university, school, or childcare centre in the comments below or on Twitter @RegionalEcDevON.

 

 

Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario –Excellence in Agriculture Award Recipient

The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) was recently presented with an Excellence in Agriculture Award. Chosen from more than 100 innovative project submissions, EFAO won for their Farmer-led Research program,

The Excellence in Agriculture Awards recognize agri-food businesses, individuals and organizations that have raised the bar for agri-food excellence, demonstrated leadership in their field, undertaken strategic product development benefiting their sector, or advanced technological innovation.

The EFAO is a membership organization that was established in 1979 and is located in ag_awards2Guelph.  Their main mission is to help and support local ecological farmers by creating a strong knowledge sharing community. EFAOs Farmer-led Research program allows farmers to conduct studies on their own land and then share their finding with other Ontario farmers. This helps to spread knowledge about the benefits of ecological farming practices and provides an opportunity to learn about ecological challenges facing farmers. There are four farms currently working through the Farmer-led Research program to conduct over 60 on-farm trials.

ag_awards5Ali English, Executive Director of EFAO said that she feels this award recognizes the hard work the 500+ farmers across Ontario who have been working to help make farms more profitable and foster environmental sustainability. Currently at the Ignatius Jesuit Center, a partnership with the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, is undertaking a pepper breeding project. The goal of the project is to produce high quality peppers using ecological farming methods, then share the outcomes with farmers across the province.

The Excellence in Agriculture Awards recognize agri-food businesses, individuals and organizations that have raised the bar for agri-food excellence, demonstrated leadership in their field, undertaken strategic product development benefiting their sector or advanced technological innovation.

ag_awards43Ontario is home to  25.3% of all farms in Canada; more than any other province. The Excellence in Agriculture awards helps to recognize hard working producers, processors and agri-organizations across the province.

What’s up Next?

If you are interested in keeping up with the Excellence in Agriculture Awards, make sure keep you eyes on Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Twitter @OMAFRA. There is more good news to come.

Agricultural Advisory Committees – Positively Impact Your Community

Agricultural Advisory Committees (AAC) are made up of community stakeholders such as Councillors, municipal staff, farmers, farm stakeholders or organizations, and other bec-ritchie-358371-unsplashinterested residents within the community. The purpose of the committee is to help shift the lens towards agriculture when it comes to deciding upon new policies, plans and processes. AACs are tremendously important because they form a direct link to the farming community, which in turn gives farmers a voice. The farming community within regions aren’t as large as they once were, so an AAC allows their thoughts and opinions to be taken into consideration when decisions are being made that may impact them.

On May 23rd, 2019, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs along with representatives from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the University of Guelph hosted an informational webinar on AACs. The webinar focused on the lessons-learned from the results of a recent a case study report. With panelists from the Halton, York, Kawartha Lakes and Durham Regions own AAC Committee members giving first hand examples and stories of their own experiences.

Farmers, municipal staff and Councillors from across the Golden Horseshoe Region all had input into the report. It reviewed committee agendas and minutes, terms of reference and future work plans; this gave a large amount of detail regarding what each committee was seeking to accomplish. Many of the panelists described their experiences with their AAC as extremely positive and stated how imperative the committee was to the success of farms and other agricultural businesses within their region.

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 Golden Horseshoe Region Map

 

All in all, the webinar succeeded in providing a greater understanding of the importance that AAC’s play in regions across Ontario. With 100% of participants stating that this webinar improved [their] understanding of Agricultural Advisory Committees.

One participant stated: “[The webinar was a] Great opportunity to share information and connect with other jurisdictions. It was great to show how research can improve practice. Quite often academic research can be difficult to apply. This a challenge/barrier. Great job!”

A special thanks to Dr. Sara Epp for hosting the webinar and to the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance and Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation for their support with the report.

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Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance
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Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

Growing Local- How Two Farmers Facilitated Economic Growth in Their Community

As the summer season begins, one thing you can always count on are on the opening of local farmers’ markets. These markets are filled to the brim with an abundance of farm fresh produce ready to bring home and share with family and friends.  As you look forward to your weekly farmers’ market, you can be assured that you know where your food is coming from and that you are supporting your local economy.

Two farmers you might spot this summer are Jeffery and Lesley Lucassen, the owners of Victory Veg located in Oxford Country. Three years ago, they quit their jobs and decided v_v_tomatoe_26to move back to Jeffery’s families retired dairy farm. They began to renovate and revitalize the farm by transforming it into a modest vegetable farm. However, this year they have added a major upgrade; a 6,800-sf hydroponic tomato greenhouse. This greenhouse is home to 700 individual tomato plants ranging from cherries to cocktails to beef steaks. The Lucassen’s credit the knowledge and support they received from OMAFRA as vital to them. If they had any questions or concerns there was always someone to lend a helping hand. When it came to the growing of their plants OMAFRA Greenhouse Specialist Shalin Khosla played a key roll in helping them succeed with their new endeavor.

Jeffery warmly remarked that “He [Shalin Khosla] was like an advisor, so to speak. I could take a picture of an issue I had and send it to him and he would tell me exactly what it was. He was really knowledgeable.”

Before Jeffery and Lesley started Victory Veg, the old farm wasn’t really contributing to the economic development of the community. The Lucassen’s have really turned that around, the hustle and bustle that was once seen on the farm has returned. Although germination_smalltomatoes are their main product, they also have fields filled with beets, onions and all different kinds of lettuce – as well as broccoli, carrots and peppers, to name a few. They germinate these plants from seeds for months before planting them, so you know they are extremely fresh and tasty.

v_v_sign_3This summer when you go to your local farmers’ market, keep your eyes peeled for the Victory Veg stand. They are currently located at the Ingersoll farmers’ market and are also planning to be in Stratford and Cambridge. Or, if farmers’ markets aren’t your thing you can visit their store front in Beachville, they are listed on the Tourism Oxford ‘Growing Fresh map’.

NEW Agriculture Economic Development Training

If your community is looking for ways to support your local agriculture sector; plan on attending the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) online Agriculture Economic Development Training.

The course is split into two sessions (March 26, 10am- 12pm and April 16, 10am-12pm). Click here to register. COURSE NOW FULL – WAIT LIST AVAILABLE 

This interactive training will: Continue reading NEW Agriculture Economic Development Training

Performance Measurement for Agricultural Societies

OMAFRA is offering a workshop on Friday, February 15 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the 2019 Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies Convention for the Measuring Your Societies Performance to Tell Your Story Workshop. The conference is taking place at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites, in Richmond Hill, Ontario from Thursday February 14th to Friday February 15th.

Helen Scutt, Agriculture Organization Specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, will be presenting on how to use performance measures to increase accountability, support evidence-based decision-making, and keep your society focused on continuous improvement.

Continue reading Performance Measurement for Agricultural Societies