Local Food News — Ontario

Brock hosts cider industry boot camp

As more people raise a glass of craft cider as their drink of choice, Brock University is raising the bar on the beverage’s production. The Brock University Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) recently hosted Canada’s first and only internationally accredited apple and pear cider production program. The course, which ran last week, was an intensive five-day study of all aspects of making cider, covering fruit production, quality control, and how to turn fermenting apples and pears into a financially fruitful endeavour. Mostly, though, the intention of the program was to establish a benchmark of skills and knowledge for an industry exploding like a bottle over-fermented home brew on a hot day. St. Catharines Standard story.


Thunder Bay’s Good Gardening Box produces fresh crops in days

A gourmet mushroom starter kit is being added to the mix of seeds and seedlings in Thunder Bay’s Good Gardening Box. The box sells for $60, with $20 as a donation to the Good Food Box, a local food security initiative run by the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre. The box includes five heirloom tomato seedlings grown by local volunteer growers, vegetable seeds from Superior Seed Producers and heirloom seed potatoes and strawberry plants from Belluz Farms, along with the Northwest Gourmet Mushrooms starter kit. CBC News story.


Parks pop-ups feature Niagara tastes, sights

But last week, instead of telling me dinner was just around the bend, Mather Arch was where I ate my last meal of the day. It was the site of a pop-up dinner hosted by Niagara Parks, which put the invitation out by social media to eat, drink and be schooled in history and architecture at a spot many of us have likely only driven past en route to somewhere else. The dinner was part of Niagara Parks Commission’s Begin Here: Canada 150 at Niagara Parks celebrations. It was one of a series of meals Niagara Parks is planning in unexpected places this summer. St. Catharines Standard story.


Lunch served with Farm Feast Salad Bar at Oakville’s Oakwood School

Connecting schools to farms and children to their food is a simple idea that has inspired the spread of Farm to School activity across Canada, according to Nancy Rumple, communications director for Halton’s Food for Thought, which connected the program to the school. Oakwood Public School is the second Halton Food for Thought partner school to launch its healthy eating initiative. St. Dominic Catholic Elementary School launched the same program last fall. It’s aimed at getting more healthy local foods on the minds, on the plates and in the mouths of students by engaging students and communities in gardening, cooking, preserving, purchasing and serving healthy local foods at their schools, said Rumple. InsideHalton.com story.


Webinar: Community Egg Grading Stations, June 20

In 2016, Farms at Work published a great report on possible opportunities for community egg grading stations. Having access to nearby egg grading facilities allows Ontario producers with small flocks (up to 100 birds) to sell their eggs at farmers markets, and to retail stores off the farm.  This webinar will explore the research and may provide some ideas for your community! Cultivating Food Coops post.


Ontario Government funds poultry processing in Renfrew County

Among those chosen recipients is Pembroke’s Reiche Meat Products. The local agri-food business will be receiving $14,550 to support its mission to grow opportunities for local poultry. “The funds will cover about 30 per cent of the overall cost of adding a chicken processing line to our facility,” said Jeffrey Bennett, Reiche Meat Products owner. “Specifically, the funds will go towards the purchase of equipment along with training.” Pembroke Daily Observer story.


Four colleges launch pilot projects to bring more local food to campuses

Four Ontario colleges are launching pilot projects aimed at having more locally grown food available for students on campus. The pilot projects are part of a local food procurement initiative led by Mohawk College in Hamilton with financial support from the Government of Ontario, in partnership with the Greenbelt Fund. The initiative is aimed at encouraging colleges to buy their food from local suppliers in their communities. The initiative would promote healthy food options for students, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing transportation, and support local food producers. Canada NewsWire story.


Boreal launches local food project

College Boreal in Sudbury is one of four Ontario colleges launching pilot projects aimed at having more locally grown food available for students on campus. “Given the unique challenges our Northern sites face in regard to local food procurement, College Boreal is excited to be conducting a food origin audit as part of the local food procurement initiative led by Mohawk College,” Lyne Michaud, vice-president academic for College Boreal, said in a release. The Sudbury Star story.


Bring Home the World – Improving Access to Ontario’s World Foods

We know that local food has evolved to include a greater variety of products that speak to the diversity of Ontarians that call our province home. That is why as part of our Local Food Strategy, our government is putting a greater focus on helping expand consumer access and availability of locally-grown World Foods to make it easier for everyday Ontarians to Bring Home the World. I’m challenging all Ontarians to get involved and tell us how our government can help you Bring Home the World by reading our discussion paper and filling out a short online survey. Ontario Government (OMAFRA) post.


Local food love at Foodland Ontario Retailer Awards

Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs and the minister responsible for small business, was also on hand to congratulate this year’s winners for their creativity and commitment to Ontario food. “Ontario’s grocery retailers play a fundamental role in helping raise awareness and demand for local food,” he said. He continued to say that when consumers buy local, they help boost the economy, create jobs and strengthen Ontario’s agri-food sector. Ontario products, he remarked, were second to none, renowned for their quality.

Minister Leal personally awarded three Vision Awards, recognizing grocery head offices for their corporate commitment to local foods. Canadian Grocer story.




FreshSpoke is reshaping the future of food

Our local food marketplace is on the cutting edge of an economic revolution known as the “sharing economy”, making it possible for us to get what we need from each other instead of large food enterprises and for revenue to flow through the local ecosystem, directly to the wallets of farmers and other producers. So fasten your seatbelts! FreshSpoke is dreaming big and driving forward with new features connecting field and fork in more ways than you ever thought possible. Website.


Local Food News — Ontario

Abundance GTA

We are growing out of an ongoing dialogue among city and rural inhabitants who care passionately about food safety and access. This dialogue is excited by a belief that we can imagine diverse ways and means to care for the lands to ensure their potential. Over the weeks ahead, we’ll post stories about the Lands and its inhabitants, human and not-human, as well conversations with people who are coming up with innovative and exciting ways to re-envision how we produce food. Website.


Halton Healthcare Hosts Local Food Expo

Halton Healthcare is celebrating Local Food Week, designated from June 4th to 10th, by hosting a Local Food Expo. The Expo will be held on Thursday, June 8, 2017 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm in the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH) cafeteria. “We are very excited to be able to host this food expo at our new Oakville Hospital, and we hope it will be the first of many. We invite everyone from all our Halton Healthcare communities, as well as our staff, physicians and volunteers to join us,” explains Marianne Katusin, Manager, Food Services. “Come out and taste samples, purchase treats and talk to the growers and manufacturers themselves.” Halton Healthcare post.


Ontario invests in local food access to support agriculture and agri-food sector

Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, made the announcement along with Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Greenbelt Fund, at McLean Farms in Peterborough. This investment includes a $15,000 grant to Farms at Work to partner with Transition Town Peterborough to strengthen the impact and sustainability of Peterborough Local Food Month. Farms at Work’s project is one of 24 new projects across Ontario, totalling over $800,000 in new investments from the Greenbelt Fund through the province’s Local Food Investment Fund program. Eastern Ontario AgriNews story.


Land Over Landings

To oppose the irresponsible and politically motivated plans for an unneeded Pickering airport and urban/industrial development on the federally expropriated lands of Durham Region. To educate the public on transit and transportation options, on the importance of protecting watersheds, and on a viable agricultural alternative to the political plan to industrialize this area. Facebook page.


Sharing On-Farm Success: Great Lakes Goat Dairy

The Sjaardas operate Great Lakes Goat Dairy near Wyoming, Ontario. They milk 550 goats. And with additional milk from local farmers, they’ve built a successful goat cheese business that takes their products right to the consumer’s front door. Sjaarda says making great cheese is essential for their success. But they also need to get their product to market. See how the Sjaarda’s tapped into Growing Forward 2 to build an online ordering system. YouTube video.


Black Creek Food Justice Network

We are a working group of Black Creek residents and local community orgs working for food security and social justice in our community and beyond. Facebook page.


Say cheese – and deli!

The two culinary veterans will unveil new cheese recipes, exclusive local and international products and revamped catering options. “Our guests are always looking to discover and expand their tastes which is why partnering with Cheese Boutique was a natural progression … we are very excited to offer our customers new cheese and charcuterie boards, recipes and introduce them to new flavours.” Toronto Sun story.


Seed fund investment helps local gourmet food processor double sales in only one year

As the local food movement took hold, owner Will Rootham-Roberts started seeing increased interest in locally made and sourced small-batch gourmet condiments. He recognized an opportunity for the family-owned company to expand and offer Ontario farmers the possibility of creating and selling shelf-stable jams, jellies and sauces from their own locally grown produce. But he needed help turning that vision into reality – help he received from Bioenterprise in the form of a grant from the Bioenterprise Seed Fund. AgInnovation Ontario post.


Province Launching Consultations on Northern Livestock Pilot Project

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal met with Indigenous partners, local municipalities, livestock organizations and industry today in Timmins to discuss the Northern Livestock Pilot project and kick off consultations with stakeholders and communities on supporting viable agriculture in the North. Government of Ontario news release.


Northern Ontario the place to farm

When northwestern Ontario comes up in conversation, it’s usually mentioned in a story about an eight-hour, mind numbing drive through rocks, trees and more rocks. For Jason, the region is the undiscovered gem of Canadian agriculture. “This, in my opinion, is one of the best places to farm in Canada,” said Jason, cow-calf director with Beef Farmers of Ontario. “Before any young person buys a farm anywhere in Canada, take two weeks of holidays and travel across northern Ontario.” Western Producer story.




Lock up your manure!

Norfolk OPP is following up on a Radical Road, Woodhouse, manure theft reported Monday, May 15. Police say a man in a van visited the property that day and the day before and removed manure. The owner confronted the man, who then left southbound on Port Ryerse Road. The owner got the licence plate from the retreating ‘manure wagon’ and was able to supply it to police, who say they will be contacting its owner. Norfolk News story.

Local Food News — Ontario

Local Food Symposium, Wednesday November 8, 2017

Mark your calendars! On Wednesday November 8, 2017 the Greenbelt Fund will be hosting a Local Food Symposium at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The Symposium will explore everything local from the practical to the visionary, with engaging break out sessions and insightful, inspiring speakers. ??????


Reevely: Ontario’s vintage alcohol regulations have us subsidizing liquor now

Each kind of alcohol has its own rules. Beer has one set, wine another, apple cider a third, hard liquor a fourth. At the moment, the Liberal government likes artisanal alcohol in general: little breweries, wineries, cideries and distillers create jobs in rural areas and boost tourism, they’re hip and they have a dash of back-to-the-land romance. They buy local produce, too: “grain to glass” is the mantra for craft distillers, like “field to table” for locavore cooking. Cideries are really big on Ontario apples. Ottawa Citizen story.


Dryden Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op wins provincial award

Dryden’s Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op has been given a 2016 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. The award recognizes contributions to boosting economic growth in Ontario by creating new products that help to support job creation, add value to existing products and support a sustainable environment. Cloverbelt, who also won the award in 2014, was launched in 2013 to help bring food straight from the farm to the consumer. More than 100 producers of goods have since sold products through the food cooperative. KenoraOnline.com story.


Incubator uses Growing Forward 2 funding to give local food businesses a start

A not-for-profit food business incubator in Toronto is helping entrepreneurs get their fledgling food companies off the ground. Food Starter offers food prep, processing, packaging and storage facilities to industry entrants at a reduced rate, as well as courses to teach entrepreneurs about key aspects of the food industry, like food safety, regulatory compliance, labelling, accounting, marketing, business management and human resources. The Toronto Food Business Incubator partnered with the City of Toronto to access funding from Growing Forward 2 to develop and launch Food Starter in November 2015. AgInnovation Ontario post.


Government Invests in New Greenhouse Technology for Organic Microgreens

Local food is key to the Canadian economy. With the opening of our new 3.5 acre Woodhill Greenhouse facility, we are poised to supply a large part of this market with the most nutrient dense food. Our facility has been upgraded with the latest innovations in UV light transmitting roofing combined with automated soil and seeding equipment. Innovations, such as these, are allowing our company to produce the highest quality organic lettuce and microgreens right here in Ontario, year round. Marketwired press release.


Highview students feed their minds with Food for Learning

Renfrew County Food for Learning Student Nutrition Program provides funding for food and ongoing support to schools and community organizations who run healthy breakfast, snack and lunch programs for the children and youth living in Renfrew County. The program aims to educate students on proper nutrition and provide them with the best food for thought to take them through their school day. Pembroke Daily Observer story.


Growing Canada’s emerging sweet potato industry

Canada’s first sweet potato variety is expected for release next year. And now work is underway to ensure Canadian farmers can also access sweet potato cuttings – called slips – right here at home. To help meet booming Canadian demand for sweet potatoes, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) is developing new varieties that grow well in Canada’s cooler climate and shorter growing season. AgInnovation Ontario post.


North St. Lawrence Market dig delves deep into Toronto’s foodie history

A new four-storey building is set to replace the demolished farmers market at Front and Jarvis Sts. But first, an archeological excavation is shedding light on the history of food in Toronto. Toronto Star story.


New loan program for young ag entrepreneurs

Recently young entrepreneurs in the agriculture retail, manufacturing and food processing sectors have had access to a new loan program. Farm Credit Canada announced the Young Entrepreneur Loan last month to provide financing up to $1 million per qualified applicant, under age 40. “By providing specialized loans for young farmers and entrepreneurs, we are helping the next generation get established and contribute to Canada achieving its full potential as a leading food supplier worldwide,” says Michael Hoffort, FCC president and CEO. FCC Express story.


Green Certificate Program lets students gain agricultural, on-farm experience

The Green Certificate Program offers Alberta high school students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 the opportunity to earn up to 16 of their Grade 12 diploma credits through training in some aspect of agricultural production, such as in cow-calf, dairy, feedlot, field crop, irrigated crop, sheep or swine production. Agriculture Canada post.




Massive chicken egg cracked open to reveal another egg inside

A giant chicken egg that made national news has been cracked open to reveal another perfectly formed, normal-sized egg inside. The 180-gram egg — which is heavier than a Major League baseball — was discovered by Echo Bay, Ont., hobby farmer Dennis Goslow last month. His hen managed to lay an egg more than three times the size of an average large chicken egg. CBC story.

Local Food News — Ontario

The Greenbelt: Protecting and Cultivating a Great Ontario Treasure

This beautiful coffee-table book is a portrait of Ontario’s Greenbelt and the people who nurture it. Stretching from the Niagara Peninsula to Tobermory – with farmland, forests, and watersheds – the Greenbelt is the largest and most protected peri-urban landscape in the world. The book also celebrates the people who live in the Greenbelt—artists, farmers, entrepreneurs, cyclists, mountain climbers, and so many others who have been enriched by what makes us quintessentially Canadian: our land. Book to be released April 17, 2017. Greenbelt post.


Harvests of Haldimand sheds new light on evolving local food scene

The guide includes a variety of sections, including culinary adventures, farm country tours, exploring and learning about how to grow food, a history of local farming and restaurants. “Our previous Harvests of Haldimand Map & Guide listed our farmers who sell direct to the public and restaurants that sell locally produced food, but we felt that there was a bigger story to tell about local food and the wonderful relationship that local producers have with other businesses to offer tourists and residents unique food experiences,” said Lidy Romanuk, manager of Economic Development and Tourism in Haldimand County. “This new guide is a reflection of the evolution of food in Haldimand County.” Grand River Sachem story.


Agricultural ‘speed dating’. That’s a thing

A collection of local producers, agriculture experts, funding agencies, tourism representatives, and restaurateurs gathered at the Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre Thursday for the Sault Ste. Marie-Algoma Forum on Food, Farms and Tourism. Facilitated by Tourism Northern Ontario with the Algoma Country Travel Association, Tourism Sault Ste Marie, the Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce, the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), Take a New Approach, and Buy Algoma Buy Fresh, the forum spoke of the potential for culinary tourism in the region and the importance of pairing area producers with vendors. SooToday.com story.


Culinary exchange identifies room to grow

The Haliburton Highlands has plenty of potential, but is still missing out on opportunities to capitalize on the local food movement, stakeholders and councillors heard last Wednesday at county council chambers in Minden. Representatives from Prince Edward County, who had been in the Highlands last October as part of a culinary exchange, presented their findings about the area’s offerings, knowledge, marketing and attitudes to local food. They found there is still much to be done. Haliburton County Echo story.


Online marketing opens consumer doors for Ontario beef farmers

Farm to City, a new marketing model with a web-based ordering system, is opening up direct-to-customer marketing opportunities for beef farmers such as Rob and Maryjo Tait, of Celtic Ridge Farms. The young farm family recently launched the online ordering system and was thrilled by the response from customers. AgInnovation post.


Good Food Box program continues to expand in Barrie

And under the Urban Pantry Project, a partnership between the Good Food Box and FruitShare Barrie funded with a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Barrie’s Good Food Box has grown and expanded considerably over the past year, and may now be just what you need to ease your grocery budget woes and boost your healthy diet. All you do is order and pay for your box by the second Wednesday of the month, and then pick it up on the third Wednesday. The Barrie Examiner story.


The City Farmer

From “green roof” to Community Garden, urban agriculture has been experiencing a boom.

Over the past 7 years, “urban agriculture has really infiltrated our culture,” says Lorraine Johnson, author and editor of Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly. It’s nothing new: during World War II, homeowners in cities were encouraged to transform lawns and flowerbeds into “Victory Gardens,” augmenting the food supply. The growing interest today comes from a greater interest in fresh, local food, issues of food security, and changing esthetics. Bradford Times story.


Moving toward more local food

News that Thunder Bay’s urban farm group, Roots to Harvest, will partner with the public school board to develop a training farm in the middle of the city is a welcome extension of an aggressive move to embrace local food. The farm will teach city kids the rudiments of farming, a throwback to the days when farming was a way of life for most families. The urban farm will also feature demonstration and training plots for groups seeking to establish their own community gardens, a section to develop regionally adapted seeds, a section for fruits and berries, a bee hive, and a rabbit hutch to teach students about animal husbandry and humane raising of animals for food. Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal story.


Chef plans lineup of free learning sessions in Northumberland

Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre innovation coordinator and chef, Emilio Ojeda, has a lineup of free cafe chats in Northumberland County about different aspects of developing local food businesses. Grants and loans for expanding and starting food businesses was the focus of the first of the series and it was scheduled for earlier this week, Ojeda said in an interview.

The next one which interested people can either turn up to, or register in advance through http://www.oafvc.ca, will be held at The Dreamer Cafe on Queen Street in Port Hope. Northumberland Today story.


The London Brewing Co-operative opens up its new digs – and Old East celebrates

London Brewing Co-operative opened its doors to the public Saturday, and judging by the large crowd that lined up for draft or to buy one of the six beers made on site, there is a lot of appetite for local organic beer and local organic growth.  “The idea is that this building is about local agriculture. This building and all the activity therein is about local, sustainable agriculture. It is, by definition, a local food hub,” he said. The micro-brewery is anglophone Canada’s first worker-owned co-operative, Pastorius said. It is partnered with On The Move organics and shares a common philosophy to use and promote local food. London Free Press story.




Love animals and hard work? You could take over this Smiths Falls, Ont., farm — for free

If you love animals, are prepared to work hard and long for the bucolic lifestyle, Stephen Overbury has a proposition for you. Overbury is looking for someone to take over his farm near Smiths Falls, Ont., as he prepares to return to Japan, where he had lived for about 15 years. But instead of selling it or renting it out, the 62-year-old is offering it up to the right person, in perpetuity — and it won’t cost a dime to take it over. CBC story.

Local Food News — Ontario

The Future of Local Food

Local food in Ontario is thriving with increased investment in production, expanded distribution and greater consumer awareness. It all adds up to a solid foundation that the local food sector can build upon in the months and years ahead. By increasing the awareness, access and supply of local food, the Ontario government will help to continue to grow the sector, create more jobs and ensure more Ontario consumers are eating fresh, high-quality local products. Excerpt 2015/16 Ontario Local Food Report.


GHFFA Meets Local Food Entrepreneurs at Toronto’s Food Starter

Last year, the GHFFA provided $10,000 in funding to the incubator as part of our Action Plan to Foster Innovation, so it was fitting for the Alliance to get a first-hand look at what’s happening within their entrepreneurial walls. Essentially, Food Starter helps drive food entrepreneurs’ ideas from concept to shelf, offering the intricate support, tools and equipment needed along the way. Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance post.


Fighting GTA’s sprawl with urban farms

Ran Goel is a farmer — an urban farmer, that is. As founder of Fresh City Farms, he left the law profession to do something he considered more meaningful. And in urban farming, he’s found a way to “reconnect people with food in a way that is very positive,” he said. Toronto Star story.


Ontario farm family builds premium local food brand

Persall got his start cold-calling influential chefs in Toronto hoping to get them interested in his cold-pressed virgin oil products. It was a nerve-wracking experience for him, but one that ultimately paid off. His products are now sold through two larger food service distributors, as well as online at foodiepages.ca and penguinfresh.com and in some retail locations. And his efforts have not gone unnoticed. Pristine Gourmet was awarded a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence several years ago and was selected by Toronto Life as one of the 100 Must-Try-Before-You-Die Tastes of Toronto. Ag Innovation Ontario post.


Thunder Bay residents encouraged to be ‘local ambassadors’ this summer

If you’re well acquainted with the local food scene, or know the region’s hiking trails like the back of your hand, then Thunder Bay’s manager of tourism says you could be an asset when it comes to selling the city to visitors. “We’re seeing a shift in consumer demographics globally, where there are more visitors that are looking for something authentic when they travel,” said Paul Pepe. CBC News story.


A New Urban Agriculture Resource from DIG

DIG (Durham Integrated Growers) just released a new urban agriculture resource, Digging for a Just and Sustainable Food System: A Scan of Municipal Policies Influencing Urban Agriculture Projects across Durham Region. The report investigates urban agriculture as it relates to the Durham region food system. Using a broad definition of policy, the report surveys official plans, by-laws, strategies and municipal planning documents that relate to land use decision making. Digging for a Just and Sustainable Food System aims to identify policies in support of and acting as barriers to urban agriculture in Durham region. Gaps where policy could create a more supportive environment for urban agriculture are also highlighted. Sustain Ontario post.


Ontario Public Institutions and On-site Food Production: Visualizing the Future for Health Care

Project SOIL (Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands) is a feasibility study that explores the potential of on-site food production for public institutions through arrangements with local producers, particularly where access to land for food production is limited and/or expensive. Funded by the New Directions Research Program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the project builds on emerging production models that can flexibly adapt to institutional resources, as well as land tenure models that could contribute to community food production. Project Soil website.


Mohawk College looking for food partners

Mohawk College is spearheading an endeavour that is aimed at getting more locally grown and produced food into the hands of students at Ontario’s 24 community colleges. The college, in a partnership with the Greenbelt Fund and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, recently published a report of the current food procurement situation and examined potential opportunities for getting more local fare onto the campuses. Now, according to Alan Griffiths, manager of sustainability at Mohawk, they are looking to turn those opportunities into action. Hamilton News story.


Growing Local Food Literacy, Wednesday April 19, 2017, 3:30 – 4:30

Webinar will focus on how to teach local food literacy while engaging students in developing gardening skills in various educational settings. Packed with hands-on tips and resources, our speakers are Ecosource (Region of Peel), Growing Up Organic (Ottawa), and the Kids Can Grow Program (Manitoulin Island). Sustain Ontario webinar.


Farmland is for Farmers

Emery Huszka, NFU-O President, presented at the Ontario Farmland Trust forum on March 30 about the impact to farmland when farmers no longer own it. “The NFU has been calling for farmland to remain in the hands of farmers since its inception. There are protections for farmland in other parts of this country but not in Ontario. If legislators in Ottawa and Queen’s Park refrained from eating for a few days prior to debating agriculture laws, I’m pretty sure we would have better legislation in favour of farmers,” Huszka noted. National Farmers Union – Ontario release.




Little Brick Pastoral celebrates story of Australian agriculture with Lego farmer minifig

A tiny plastic farmer wearing a wide-brimmed hat and green overalls is doing his bit to raise awareness of Australian agriculture. He is the Lego Farmer, 4.5cm tall and becoming quite a national, if not international, celebrity as he sows the message of agriculture in schools and via social media. The farmer spends his day working hard, fixing machinery, baling hay, checking the harvest, planting crops or hanging out with his working dog. And his ‘home’ is with Little Brick Pastoral, a blog started by agribusiness graduate Aimee Snowden, who lives on her family’s irrigation farm at Tocumwal, in the southern Riverina in New South Wales. ABC News story.

Local Food News — Ontario

Opportunities for Growth: An Urban Agriculture Toolkit

The toolkit is now available online as a resource for municipal governments, urban growers, planners and organizations to help advocate for policies that support urban agriculture. With examples of different forms of urban agriculture, case studies from municipalities around the province and tools for enacting change in communities, the toolkit prepares readers to take positive steps toward creating communities that support and incorporate urban agriculture practices. Sustain Ontario post.


Innovative tech helps Holland Marsh growers protect crops

Weekly photos are taken of the vegetable fields in the Marsh using an octocopter drone. Lead researcher Mary Ruth McDonald and her team at the University of Guelph’s Muck Crops Research Station run the IPM program and use the images for early detection of diseases and insects so growers can take appropriate measures to protect their crop and prevent or minimize damage. “The technology we are able to access through this project makes our crop scouting program more effective and lets growers be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to crop protection,” explains Sheppard. “It’s very quick for a grower to have a problem area identified early and then decide how to treat it correctly to keep the crop healthy.” Food in Canada story.


New College Boréal agricultural technician program will train the next generation of farmers

The program is unique in Northern Ontario, and will have two focuses: animal sciences and plant sciences. Students will have to choose one to specialize in, although they won’t specialize too narrowly. The students will be learning a variety of growing methods including traditional, hydroponic, and sustainable methods that are adapted to modern agricultural and environmental trends. Management courses that cover finances, human resources and labour will accompany more hands-on courses in plant and animal management. The school is hoping to have a rooftop greenhouse built for the project, similar to the existing greenhouse the college’s forestry program uses. Northern Ontario Business story.


Sudbury food strategy consultations hear from local restaurateurs

The Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council is in the midst of putting together its food strategy for the city, which is expected to propose solutions to issues surrounding food that Sudbury residents think are important. Some of the input is being taken through a series of short, lunch-hour submissions called “4-minute foodie” presentations, which give stakeholders the chance to pitch why their organization matters to Sudbury’s food landscape. CBC News story.


Humber offering courses and workshops on Sustainable Urban Beekeeping

The Humber Arboretum is now offering a series of courses and hands-on workshops on Sustainable Urban Beekeeping. The program takes a look at the opportunities and challenges associated with running a small-scale urban apiary, with a focus on native bees and sustainable hive management practices that build resilience in the colony. Sign up for individual courses or complete all eight required courses and two electives to earn a Certificate of Participation in Sustainable Urban Beekeeping from Humber College (sign up for the full certificate in advance and you’ll save over $300!). The first round of one-day core courses will run in winter 2017, preparing learners to get hands-on at the Humber Arboretum hives beginning in the spring. Sustain Ontario post.


Dairy Goat Farm Management Program

Ontario dairy goat producers looking to improve or expand their operations, increase their business management skills, and boost their bottom lines are invited to take part in the Dairy Goat Advanced Farm Management Program.  The program is offered through a partnership between the Agri-food Management Institute and Ontario Goat and is designed for licensed dairy goat farm owners and managers. It will consist of five, one-day intensive sessions starting in March, 2017. Agri-food Management Institute post.


Ontario Local Food Report

Ontario is an agri-food powerhouse. Our farmers harvest an impressive abundance from our fields and farms, our orchards and our vineyards. And our numerous processors — whether they be bakers, butchers, or brewers — transform that bounty across the value chain into the highest-quality products for consumers. Together, they generate more than $35 billion in GDP and provide more than 781,000 jobs. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food post.


Ontario Public Institutions and On-site Food Production: Visualizing the Future for Health Care

Project SOIL (Shared Opportunities on Institutional Lands) is a feasibility study that explores the potential of on-site food production for public institutions through arrangements with local producers, particularly where access to land for food production is limited and/or expensive. Funded by the New Directions Research Program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the project builds on emerging production models that can flexibly adapt to institutional resources, as well as land tenure models that could contribute to community food production. Report summary.


Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy

The strategy was developed by a dedicated group of key actors with the goal of strengthening Ontario’s food systems and improving the health and well-being of Ontarians. Vision: Productive, equitable and sustainable food systems that support the wholistic health and well-being of all people in Ontario. Mission: To develop a cross government, multi-stakeholder coordinated approach to food policy development and a plan for healthy food and food systems in Ontario. Strategy.


Ontario’s Good Fortune: Appreciating the Greenbelt’s Natural Capital

A new report from Green Analytics and Sustainable Prosperity finds that in addition to storing over $11.17B of carbon, the Greenbelt provides $3.2B annually in ecosystem services to the region. The report, commissioned by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, assessed the value of final services provided by the Greenbelt that Ontario residents benefit from. The report uses the National Ecosystem Services Classification methodology to identify a series of ecosystem service accounts that directly benefit residents – for example bird watching, flood protection, and clean air to breathe. Greenbelt Foundation post.




Province approves boundary deal

The provincial government has approved the Brantford-Brant County boundary adjustment. Approval of the deal, which will transfer 2,719 hectares of county territory to the city as of Jan. 1, 2017, was announced by city and county officials Tuesday. It brings to an end more than a decade of negotiations. Brantford Expositor story.

Local Food News — Ontario

Economics of Local Food in Ontario

Our agri-food sector generates $63 billion in sales to consumers each year, and employs 767,000 people. In this double-page Toronto Star feature, read about the financial benefits of fresh, homegrown food; farmers’ stewardship of the land; overcoming the challenges of bringing food from the farm to the table; and why fostering food literacy at the grassroots level benefits the province and Ontarians at large. Greenbelt Foundation post.


Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food

2017 Kenneth R. Farrell Distinguished Public Policy Lectureship. Distinguished Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center Director, Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, University of California, Davis. Thursday, February 16, 2017. 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Delta Hotel and Conference Centre (John McCrae Room), 50 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario. Free admission, all welcome. To register for this event, please RSVP by February 9 to Debbie Harkies at dharkies@uoguelph.ca. Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Guelph post.


My Sustainable Canada’s Local Food and Ontario’s Long Term Care Sector Report

This report documents the current state of local food usage in Ontario’s long-term care sector. Greenbelt Foundation post.


Linton Pasture Pork

Jeffrey Linton has been in the pig business all his life working with his parents on their farrow to finish operation in Huron County, Ontario. In 2010, Linton spent 3 months in Scotland working on an outdoor sow farm with 500 animals. During this time, he developed and refined his husbandry skills and learned how to raise pigs outside and work in close contact with them. He then returned to Canada where he utilized his skills and started Linton Pasture Pork. Linton pasture pork is a small farrow to finish family run farm located in Walton, Ontario. Website.


New program combines cooking and commerce

In what is being called a first for Canadian post-secondary education, George Brown College is launching a bachelor of commerce program with a specialization in culinary management to better prepare chef school students to succeed. The program, officially known as honours bachelor of commerce (culinary management), intends to provide a four-year degree tailored towards management and operations in the food and beverage industry, a niche previously neglected in Canadian schools. The Dialog, George Brown College post.


Fence row farming: Uncovering the secrets in the soil

DEAN GLENNEY PLANTS his corn and soybeans on exactly the same rows, drives on the same tracks, and never tills his fields. It’s a farming method he has used for nearly 20 years now; and it has given him corn yields averaging 275 bushels an acre (bu/ac) and soybeans averaging around 60 bu/ac. In 2012, Glenney’s highest corn yield was 301.88 bu/ac. Ontario Grain Farmer story.


Certificate in Food Security

The certificate explores the challenges of creating sustainable food systems based on social justice and democratic decision-making that will ensure the right of dignified access to healthy food. The program’s perspective on food security is local and global covering both rural and urban situations. Participants will learn how to strengthen the sustainability of city food systems through the development of innovative urban agriculture policy and practices.  They will also learn the challenges facing rural farming communities worldwide and explore the possibilities for supporting farming livelihoods and rebuilding local food systems for the public good. Ryerson post.


Farmland Health Incentive Program Tightens Focus For 2017

Changes to the 2017 Farmland Health Incentive Program (FHIP) will create an even greater focus on managing water quality in the western and central Lake Erie basin. For the past two years, FHIP, part of the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI), has focused on supporting and funding Ontario farmer stewardship efforts in an area that extends anywhere south of a line from Tobermory to Niagara Falls. Margaret May, regional program lead with Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (which administrates the program), explains that the target area has now been narrowed to anywhere south of Highway 402 with a jog north to the Stratford area, then south to Lake Erie. Real Agriculture story. Program.


78,000 Ontario farmers call for an end to urban sprawl

Over 52,000 farms and 78,000 farmers have a united message for the Provincial Government: freeze urban boundaries now and stop urban sprawl to protect farmland in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). This includes Melancthon farmer Ralph Armstrong who says, “It is important to keep the message out there that farmland is limited. If we protect it, the land will feed us every year.” Ralph Armstrong is a sixth generation farmer who was one of the first to sound the alarm regarding the manoeuvres of the Highland Companies’ land acquisitions of Honeywood farmland as the hedge fund corporation prepared to apply for a 2,400 acre open pit mine on the headwaters and first class prime farmland. Shelburne Free Press story.


Teaching Local Food Literacy in Ontario Schools

Did you miss our Teaching Local Food Literacy webinar? It’s not too late! The recorded webinar and presentation slides are now available for you to view. This webinar was the first in our Local Food Literacy in Ontario Schools webinar series.  Recorded on November 30, 2016, this webinar provides tangible lessons for how to bring local food literacy education into the classroom. Sustain Ontario post.




Rural SMEs, Innovation and Ontario’s Community Colleges

In 2002 the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act was updated, providing an official and clear mandate for colleges to engage in applied research and encouraged colleges to enter into partnerships with business and industry, creating new opportunities for establishing relationships with SMEs and opportunities for partnering in innovation. However, there is little empirical research that has been conducted on these new opportunities in Ontario (1 study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada, 2010), and no rural empirical research. This research offers a rural perspective, focusing on the rural context. LinkedIn post.