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

Tips for Completing your Rural Economic Development (RED) Program Application

The Rural Economic Development (RED) program supports activities that create strong rural communities in Ontario and opens doors to rural economic development. The program is now open and will accept applications until September 9, 2019.

Applicants are required to read the program guidelines before completing an application form. The program guidelines provide detailed information on eligible applicants, project types, and costs, as well as the process for submitting an application and the process that will be used to assess the application.

In advance of the intake closing, the slide deck below is focused on providing some helpful tips to consider in completing your application.

The tips noted above are meant to support you with the development of a complete application.

If you missed our program webinars earlier in August, you can access a recording of one of the sessions here (please note, you may need to install Adobe Connect to view).

For more assistance on designing your project, assessing eligibility, and working through the final checks before submission, contact your Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor. For more information on the program including guidelines, applications, and approved projects, please visit Ontario.ca/REDprogram.

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

Location, Location, Location!

Choosing a location is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs make when planning or relocating their business venture.

Here’s a request we received from a retail client: “I might have an opportunity to move on to the main street, but I need more information for my business partner. He doesn’t seem to think it will make that much of a difference.”

Here is our advice:

Know your customer

Continue reading Location, Location, Location!

The Rural Economic Development (RED) is Accepting Applications

What is the RED Program?

Rural Economic Development (RED) is a cost-share funding program that supports projects that remove barriers to economic development in rural communities.

What are RED Outcomes?

RED applications are assessed on their ability to result in one or more of the following:

  • Jobs retained or created
  • Investments attracted or retained
  • Businesses attracted, retained and/or expanded
  • Enhanced strategic economic infrastructure
  • Regional partnerships that drive growth

Who is Eligible for RED?

Continue reading The Rural Economic Development (RED) is Accepting Applications

Learn the fundamentals of BR+E on September 19, 2019 in Blyth, Ontario

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) Business Retention and Expansion program (BR+E) is a structured, four-stage approach focused on ensuring that local businesses in rural communities survive and thrive.

When communities take on a BR+E project, they take meaningful steps towards retaining and expanding businesses by getting a clear understanding of issues facing local businesses and then capitalizing on opportunities.

As part of the program, OMAFRA offers comprehensive BR+E training to:

  • individuals who are interested in managing or coordinating a community level Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) project.
  • economic development professionals who will be involved in the implementation of a BR+E project.

Continue reading Learn the fundamentals of BR+E on September 19, 2019 in Blyth, Ontario

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?

Recap: June Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice on Addressing Seasonality

We recently held our fourth online community of practice for Ontario’s downtown revitalization community. The session focused on events, promotions, and other activities communities are using to address seasonality, and to keep their downtowns a destination beyond traditional summer and winter peak seasons. Here’s a quick summary of the session:

Sue Nicholson, General Manager of the Downtown Collingwood BIA provided an overview of the current landscape in Collingwood, the resulting focus of the BIA inCollingwood-BIA-Logo promoting the downtown (e.g. authenticity, arts, walkability), and the full range of initiatives used to even out resident and tourist visitation in the downtown throughout the year. Some of these initiatives include self-directed walking tours, various arts-based events from May to October, and mid-week events in the summer. Overall, Collingwood has been able to work with partners across the region, including “cooperative/competitors” like Blue Mountain, to build a vibrant calendar of events and initiatives that reduce traditional shoulder seasons outside of summer and winter in Collingwood. Click here to download the presentation.

Susan Carradine-Armstrong, Manager of the Downtown Goderich BIA focused in on a key event the community uses to promote the downtown in the winter, the ICEtacular goderich_BIAfestival. Over four years the BIA has been able to successfully build ICEtacular into a key event on the Town’s calendar and a prime opportunity for downtown businesses to see notable activity in a traditionally slow season. The event has been able to attract an estimated average of 3,000 people per year for the weekend and has resulted in average increases in sales for retail and food service providers in the downtown each year over the course of the event. Click here to download the presentation.

Continue reading Recap: June Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice on Addressing Seasonality

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.

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