CFN – The Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed Bill 36 Local Food Act, 2013 on November 5, 2013. The purposes of the Act are to foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems in Ontario, help increase awareness of local food in Ontario and develop new markets for local food. $30 million has been pledged over three years to support innovative new local food projects and create jobs.
Reg and I attended the Local Food Conference in Kingston this week. What we saw was very encouraging for the health of the Ontario food Industry. Be prepared though, it seems that the business model for food processing is undergoing a revolution or a tear down and rebuild from the same motivation that sprouted Walter Bick’s, Bick’s Pickles and Ernest D’Israeli Smith’s, E.D. Smith strawberry jam. That is, lack of local processing customers to turn their crops into retail products.
The conference was organized by KEDCO (Kingston Economic Development Corporation) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs and was sponsored by local farmers and green houses, meat processors, bakeries, dairies and honey producers with donations for snacks and meals. Exhibitors included Homestead Organics, Foodland Ontario, and Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance and many others. Speakers from Limestone Organic and Kawartha Country Wines spoke on their experiences in developing their local business. Sessions were held on available funding how to market and discussions on food hubs, best practices and lessons learned from cases studies by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The first day of the conference was dedicated to a tour of three examples of local food hubs.
First, Limestone Creamery http://www.limestonecreamery.ca/about_limestonecreamery.asp
Limestone Creamery is family owned and operated. They are certified organic, raise and milk about 30 head of Holstein and Jersey cows. They have a small processing plant where they High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurize the milk and bottle it in glass bottles. The really unique and back to the future part of their business is that they do home deliveries to about 240 families in Kingston. Each home has an insulated Porch Box where the milk is placed on delivery.
They have a beautiful shop where you can buy organic butter and cheeses in addition to the organic milk in a glass bottle. Check out their website to see the other wonderful organic and locally grown foods that they offer.
The second stop was at Sun Harvest Green Houses. http://sunharvest.ca/
“Greg and Allison Shannon, after two years of research, began growing hydroponic pesticide – free tomatoes, with the vision of being a local grower of great tasting, fresh produce and selling it directly from their greenhouse store and supplying local grocery stores in the Kingston area.”
They have succeeded. In addition they also grown cucumbers and greens that they supply to local restaurants as well.Check out their web site for their additional offerings.
Unfortunately all the plants had been removed from the green house because it was getting too cold and not enough sun due to the short days. Allison Shannon still took us into the empty green house anyway to describe their operation.
The third stop was at Wendy’s Country Market http://www.wendysmobilemarket.com/index.htm
Wendy began with their own farm vegetables and beef and in researching other local food found they were able to source locally, eggs, bread and chickens and the store grew. Inside the store you can find locally baked goods, candy, frozen dinners, fruits, vegetables, locally written books and hand knitted mittens among other locally made items. They added the home delivery hence the “Wendy’s Mobile Market”.
Perhaps the closing of large food processing plants and moving to the USA, Smuckers, Heinz , Hershey, just to name three, is just closing one door and opening the door to a whole new local economy. These examples are all from the Kingston area , but why not here? One of the presenters used the phrase R&D to mean Rob & Duplicate. SD&G could duplicate what has been done in Frontenac.