Local Food News — Ontario

When these Ontario dairy cows see spring pasture for the first time, they jump for joy

It has been an extra long, brutally cold Canadian winter and “the girls” are twitchy. The May air is finally warm and scented with fresh pasture. There is human movement at the gate. The girls — who are dairy cows — surely must remember the 155 acres of paradise that lie beyond the barnyard? “Once the cows get out that gate,” says farmer Deb Vice, “they’re like kids at recess — pushing and shoving.” Have you ever seen a dairy cow run? Jump for joy? Kick up its hooves? Buck like a rodeo bull? Toronto Star story (includes video).

 

We could learn from France

Last week’s unanimous decision by the country’s government to have grocery stores reduce food waste by either donating it to the needy or providing it to farms and composters (for food that is not safe for human consumption) is more than just an example of smart thinking, it’s a prime example of humanity. The law means supermarkets will have to sign food donation contracts with charities or risk fines of up to $100,000 or two years in jail. Steep penalties, but necessary to address both growing food wastes in the country and to feed those who are less fortunate. The Quinte region, and Canada, could learn a lot from the move and should be examining ways to imitate the move. Belleville Intelligencer editorial.

 

Farm To Table: Bringing home the bacon

Two inescapable facts stick out about Brantford-Brant: The area is emerging as one of Ontario’s quickly growing food processing clusters; and agriculture is still its largest industry. The region of Brantford and the County of Brant is attracting ever more companies, from small family operations serving a growing local region, to multinational firms making world famous brands and products. And it’s one of the area’s most profitable and job-generating sectors. Brantford Expositor story.

 

First ‘Farm to School Salad Bar’ in NL

When a group of students approached teacher Chris Peters at St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s, asking for a wider variety of healthy options in the cafeteria, he knew who to ask for advice. Sarah Ferber from the Food Security Network of Newfoundland & Labrador (FSN) had recently spoken at the school about food security issues in the province. She had mentioned that Farm to Cafeteria Canada was looking to start a program in NL. After a year of planning, applications and teamwork between the school, FSN, Lester’s Farm Market and Chartwells Food Services, the Farm to Cafeteria Canada salad bar program was launched this week. The self-serve all-you-can-eat salad bar allows students to pick from a variety of vegetables and fruits. The produce is locally sourced (as much as possible) and changes with the seasons. Atlantic Farm focus story.

 

Urban Orchard Revival: San Romanoway Towers

San Romanoway community garden will provide 63 accessible raised-bed plots for residents who want to grow their own fresh healthy food. Complementing this physical space, the project offers ongoing sessions for Basic Fruit Tree Care, where resident volunteers learn the essentials of caring for an urban orchard. Community members learn about tree selection, grafting, pest control, disease prevention, soil management and more. The urban gardeners can then share their knowledge with others in the community as a way to keep the orchard healthy. As a capacity building measure, graduates of the program will be matched to potential employers in the neighbourhood. Food Share post.

 

Community Garden Council of Waterloo Region

In 2013, Region of Waterloo Public Health completed a Community Gardening Storytelling Project  that demonstrated how community gardening is a valuable health promoting and community building activity. Community gardens contribute to creating high quality urban and rural gathering spaces and they support people’s efforts to stay healthy. This stoytelling project interviewed 84 gardeners in an unstructured format to learn about the meaning of gardening in their lives. The stories shared by these gardeners revealed eight main reasons for gardening which were grouped into three themes: health, inclusion, and learning. Website.

 

It’s strawberry time at The Local Dish!

Win a $100 gift certificate to Hawthorne Food and Drink – find and share your best recipes for a chance to win! If you love local food as much as we do, you’ll probably want to share your recipes just because you can, and because you understand the health and environmental benefits of locally-grown food. But we’re throwing in some rewards and prizes for good measure, because, well, we think you’ll like them! You’re welcome to submit a recipe for any of The Local Dish all-stars at any time – the more the merrier. Each month, we will announce a new Ontario-grown fruit or veggie that’s abundantly available at that time and the list of all-stars just keeps growing. Toronto Local Dish post.

 

How Farmers Markets are Getting it Right

“Like in Alberta, conference attendees were concerned with the proliferation of new markets in British Columbia and many expressed doubt that there are enough farmers to fill these markets,” says Melisa Zapisocky project support, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Edmonton. “Yet, many markets were thriving and did not appear to be hindered or upset by this growth.” She says the conference showed some of the ways these markets are getting it right. “Markets are finding ways to stand out from the crowd by focusing on their personality, and what is unique or different,” explains Zapisocky. “Examples include operating a 100 per cent certified organic market, working with food and concession vendors to increase use of local ingredients (and promoting this), and providing more services in the market like knife sharpening, bike repair, or a market-run coffee booth.” Alberta Agriculture and Forestry post.

 

Foods of the Forest: Ontario Nature’s Forage North Program

Summer 2014 was busy for Ontario Nature’s Boreal Program staff located in Thunder Bay. As part of a new two-year pilot project named Forage North, staff members have been working to strengthen the local food economy, community health and environmental sustainability in northern Ontario by increasing the appreciation, supply and distribution of edible wild plants. The project began last year with a survey of northern Ontario residents’ awareness, consumption and opinions of forest and freshwater foods. From the hundreds of responses across northern Ontario, it was determined that the majority of residents would be willing to purchase locally-harvested forest and freshwater foods if they are more widely available. Stewardship Network of Ontario post.

 

Creating a local food buzz in Attercliffe

Roy and Karen Graystone are big supporters of local food who are looking to take that support one step further. The owners of the Attercliffe General Store support the local economy by serving locally-sourced foods in the restaurant portion of their rural business. The bacon is purchased in Beamsville, the eggs from Dunnville, the home-fried potatoes are Ontario grown. For dinner they serve Lake Erie perch and Smithville chicken. Niagara This Week story.

 

AND IF YOU HAVE TIME

 

Food Fighters at Female Eye Film Festival

Food Fighters, screening at the Female Eye Film Festival, follows food activists who work together to build food security in urban settings. Taking a close look at small-scale farmers, Food Fighters highlights the challenges and risks involved in urban agriculture while sharing success stories. The documentary screens on June 19th from 5-7pm at The Royal Cinema. Tickets. Vimeo trailer.

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