Through our series of Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice events, we are continuing to build a network of practitioners with an interest in economic development and downtown revitalization across the province. Given the challenges that have emerged over the last several months across the globe related to COVID-19, particularly for small businesses in downtowns and main street areas, building those networks and sharing leading practices has taken on an even more important role. As part of that work, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is pleased to facilitate the next session in its downtown community of practice event series, to be held on June 1st, 2020, from 10:30-12:00.
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.
The Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice held a webinar on April 15, 2020, to discuss issues in the agriculture and food sector due to COVID-19 and how to help communities during these difficult times.
One concern expressed is the lack of agriculture labourers. The agricultural community is worried that they will not get their full complement of temporary seasonal workers, and that would impact their ability to plant and harvest this season. The goal of the Community of Practice it to help find local and regional solutions to address these types of issues.
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.
As a continuation of a previous blog post on tips to support your business community, this blog offers mental health strategies on navigating through COVID-19. Due to the uncertainty business owners are currently facing, it can be extremely difficult to manage stress levels while working through economic setbacks. Although, there are several significant unknowns, it is important to ensure that mental health and self-care is a top priority for yourself and your business community during these challenging times. It is not uncommon to experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and stress.
Below are some key insights from mental health experts on practicing good self-care for yourself and your employees.
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.
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.
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
Downtown Revitalization is a four-stage initiative focused on providing communities with the resources and knowledge needed to stimulate investment and reinvestment in traditional downtown districts.
Since 2005, over 70 communities across rural Ontario have used and been supported by OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization program and resources. Continue reading Snapshot of 2018 Downtown Revitalization Community Report Card
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. Continue reading Food, fun and friendship at the 2019 Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference