RECIPE FOR GROWTH
Money and members are being sought to continue the groundwork started by a group promoting local food production.
A minimum of $125,000 would be required to implement the recommendations of the Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and Akwesasne Food and Agricultural Advisory Council (FAAC).
The funds would be used to employ two full-time staff who would help develop better support for local farm and food businesses, address gaps along the agri-food value chain, and promote food literacy and culinary tourism across the region.
“Having synthesized a list of recommendations, the FAAC is now seeking new membership, sustainable leadership, and the necessary funds to begin work. Several presentations to municipal councils, businesses, and community partners have been scheduled for March, with the primary goal of establishing a permanent Food and Agriculture Advisory Council for this region,” says the organization.
The FAAC was established in June 2017 as a short-term initiative under the All Things Food (ATF) and Social Development Council (SDC) umbrella to investigate opportunities for strengthening our local food economy and community. Initial funding for the work was secured through the Eastern Ontario Development Fund with leveraged contributions from several community partners.
Major elements considered by the FAAC included increased support for small-scale producers and farmers, the need for increased infrastructure for processing and distribution, regional branding and marketing strategy, integration of agri-tourism into regional tourism efforts, local food purchasing by the broader public sector, development of local post-secondary curriculum for agri-food businesses, and data aggregation on employment, business, and training for the sector.
“The FAAC stems from years of work, research, and partner recommendations from the ATF network and community partners,” says Carilyne Hebert, Executive Director of the SDC. “We were very excited to incubate the project and see it develop into an incredible strategic working group for our community.”
The FAAC connected with a diverse group of local stakeholders employed in the food production and processing, retail and hospitality, and tourism sectors. The work included focus groups, pilot projects, educational cer-
tification seminars, and networking events centred on food sector priorities for the region. Some unexpected highlights from the project include the Sprouting New Connections workshop series, a visit by Jim Kelly, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada in September, the first regionally hosted Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance networking event in October, and a new partnership with Agri-East Lowlands which aims to advance agri-technology, tourism, and education in Eastern Ontario.
“I attended several of the events hosted by FAAC and was impressed with the excellent guest speakers, general organization, and professional atmosphere,” says Tamara Lang of Langview Farms. “This project has made great headway for the region by helping our area make strides into emerging markets. I look forward to seeing the FAAC fulfill its future goals.” To get involved, contact Carilyne Hébert at [email protected]ccornwall.ca, or 613-9300211.