Guest blog written by Emily Potter, Executive Director, NOFIA
With the current COVID-19 situation changing daily, challenges that farmers were facing prior to the outbreak have escalated, and new challenges are being presented week by week. While the general public are expressing concerns about the food supply, farmers want the public to know that they will not stop producing safe and healthy food for them to consume. Despite mounting challenges, Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food industry is resilient and innovative.
Industry organizations everywhere have been working hard to provide up-to-date information and create tools to ensure farmers and producers can continue to meet the country’s demand. Whether this be releasing practical tools and information, developing support programs, or working with the government to ensure the supply chain is maintained.
Continue reading Growing in a COVID-19 World
The Rural Ontario Institute has created a Young Rural Change Makers pilot program that invites young adults to develop their community leadership capacity to make a difference in their rural community. This program is open to individuals ages 18-29 that currently reside in rural Ontario.
Up to 30 motivated young adults will be selected by application to join the program. The chosen individuals will participate in a series of developmental training webinars that will foster online connections for a customized, experiential event. This will support them to take action on a challenge/opportunity that they have helped their community to select. Additional personalized coaching will take place, as-needed, either in-person, phone or via email.
Continue reading Young Rural Change Makers Program
On March 5th, 2020, the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice hosted a webinar on planning for agriculture. This webinar fostered a discussion between the audience and the speaker, Dr. Wayne Caldwell, on the impact and opportunities for land use planning and near-urban agriculture. Potential challenges and opportunities were addressed, along with ten methods to create a more viable agricultural sector through planning practices.
As Ontario’s population grows, urbanized and highly populated areas are expanding into agricultural areas. While there are certainly opportunities for agriculture in proximity to urban markets, it can also pose some risks and challenges.
Continue reading Planning for Agriculture Requires Balancing Growth and Compatibility
Developing new markets closer to home can add value and cut costs. Beef Farmers in Northern Ontario working with Local Food and Farm Co-op Ontario developed a new brand called Northwest Beef, focused on accomplishing those two objectives and adding value to the agriculture industry of Northwestern Ontario.
With some aid from federal and provincial funding, The Local Food and Farm Co-op was able to bring together beef farmers from Thunder Bay, Rainy River, and Kenora districts to look at producing and marketing beef in a new, innovative way. Consumers in the three districts were surveyed to find out what the determining factors for purchasing beef were. The results provided a basis for the farmers from the Northwest. Collectively, the farmers agreed on a brand, production practices, and a marketing strategy. A co-op of participating farmers from the three districts was formed. Each district has a processing facility for harvesting the animals and storing the meat.
Continue reading Building the Brand Northwest Beef
UPDATE: SIAL Canada has recently released the following about this event: “SIAL Canada, as an industry leader, has been following the evolution of the COVID-19 crisis very closely. In light of recent developments in the ordinances announced in Quebec, we have decided to postpone the event to August 5-7 at the Palais des Congres.”
SIAL Canada is an annual international food and beverage trade show that offers a complete range of products, equipment and technologies designated specifically for the food industry. This year, SIAL Canada will be held in Montreal, Quebec at the Palais des Congres, on April 15-17, 2020.
SIAL Canada will feature an Ontario pavilion, presented by OMAFRA comprised of Ontario food and beverage processors. There are still limited spots left to exhibit with the Ontario pavilion. With over 25,000 visitors, SIAL Canada is the perfect springboard for your product. Booth spaces are limited and filling up fast! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to meet the industry’s major players!
Why exhibit at SIAL Canada?
- There will be 25,000 visitors from more than 60 countries. Your clients will be there! And if not, you will receive free invitations for your clients as part of your exhibitor package.
- An average of 350 contacts per booth which offers you the opportunity to develop your business around the world.
- Attend exclusive conferences to keep you informed of the biggest market trends, food innovation and growth opportunities.
Continue reading Exhibit with the Ontario Pavilion at SIAL Canada 2020!
The Restaurants Canada (RC) Show is Canada’s largest annual foodservice and hospitality trade-show held in Toronto, Ontario. The RC Show is dedicated to creating networking and sales opportunities between vendors and buyers within the food service industry. The RC Show is being held on March 1-3 at the Enercare Centre, Toronto starting at 10am.
The show will offer three days of non-stop business-building action including a dynamic trade show floor with seven stages hosting over 150 speakers, six competitions, three leadership conferences and four networking events. With 20,000 industry professionals in attendance, this annual event provides thought leadership and education, boasting 250,000 square feet of the latest product innovation and culinary events designed to inspire and motivate by showcasing cutting-edge products, pioneering influencers and transformative ideas.
Continue reading RESTAURANTS CANADA SHOW 2020
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 (April 8, 10am- 12pm and April 22, 10am-12pm). Click here to register.
This interactive training will:
- Share key agriculture economic development concepts
- Introduce the range of agriculture economic development activities your community can explore
- Give you tools to develop a plan for agricultural economic development in your community
- Provide an overview of the Agriculture Economic Development guide and its three stages: plant, grow and harvest.
Continue reading Online Agriculture Economic Development Training
I started 2020 by doing something I never thought I would do: travelling to Spain to learn about agriculture and rural communities. This once-in-a-lifetime learning experience from January 7-18 was a part of the Advanced Agriculture Leadership Program (AALP), offered by the Rural Ontario Institute. AALP is an executive professional development program for those working in careers related to agriculture, food and rural communities.
Our trip began in Madrid, then did a circle around the southern half of the country, hitting eight major cities and several smaller communities along the way. The history, culture, music and architecture were fascinating parts of the trip, but for today, I want to focus on the agriculture.
Continue reading A First-Timer’s Guide to Agriculture in Spain
According to this article published in 2016, 1 in 5 Ontario residents live in rural communities. As with larger urban areas, the health of residents in these rural areas is becoming more important as the population ages. Increasingly, municipalities, planners, and public health professionals are understanding that there are clear linkages between the built environment and the health of a community. So, how does the rural built environment and land use planning affect quality of life and health outcomes? This question is answered through first recognizing what rural planning is and the importance of rural health.
The Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) defines rural planning as planning to improve quality of life and promote economic vitality in areas of low population density, with an expansive rural landscape and dispersed population. Planning for rural communities presents unique challenges not necessarily experienced in urban communities. Continue reading Planning Principles for Creating Healthy Rural Communities
On December 12, 2019 the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice hosted a webinar on the future of the agri-food workforce. This webinar focused on workforce challenges in the agri-food sector and methods in which economic development organizations and practitioners can use data and strategies to address these challenges.
Cassi Brunsveld from AgScape spoke on the challenging issue of how to engage youth in the agricultural sector. Here are some of the key highlights:
- Students often believe the misconception that the only job in the agriculture industry is farming.
- Integrating youth into the agri-sector is crucial for Ontario as 37% of the agriculture workforce is expected to retire by 2029.
Continue reading The Future AgriWorkforce – Data, Strategies and Opportunities