The first Northern Ontario Forum for Food, Farms and Tourism was held on December 7th in Kenora at 7 Generations Education Institute. The event was planned and sponsored in partnership by CLFC, the Northwest Business Centre, the Lake of the Woods Development Commission, and Tourism North Ontario.
The event was well attended despite the weather and we saw all sorts of participants come through the event. Institutional representatives, restaurants, chefs, small business owners, farmers, producers, processors, and distributors alike were in attendance. The event was also attended by government officials who offered insight into support and financial assistance programs.
In all, 55 people were in attendance where they were given talks on topics pertaining to developing food tourism in our region and the economic benefits of showcasing unique local ingredients/foods and locally produced goods. CLFC was able to give presentations which introduced participants to the Co-op and the benefits of becoming a member, our recently completed mapping project and how CLFC can play a role in the local food movement in our region, as well as our newest role with SNAPP funding.
CLFC worked with the culinary program at 7 Generations to provide meals made primarily with ingredients sourced locally through the Co-op. It was an excellent opportunity to highlight our producers and their high quality products to show the potential of local food.
The event also hosted a discussion panel on local food and tourism. The panel included CLFC producers/ members that were able to provide insight into the role of local food in our region. Participants heard from Deb Zimmerman of Rainy River Meats, Roger Griffiths of Robin Hill Farm & Cloverbelt Country Meats (abattoir), as well as Del Schmucker from Wickens Lake Sunshine. The event ended with an extremely productive networking session where institutions were able to connect with producers to forge relationships to better incorporate local products in restaurants and institutions in the area.
All-in-all the event was found to be a huge success and CLFC was happy to have been able to be a part of such a key event for the region. We would like to thank all of our producers/ members who made the trip to Kenora to participate in the event and especially to those who gave their time to sit on the panel. We would also like to thank all of our producers who worked hard with us to provide their products for the event. It was such an amazing opportunity to prove what we here in NWO are capable of producing!
The event certainly sparked interest in expanding the use of local food in restaurants and in tourism in the area. Its unique marketing qualities and its ability to complete the local experience for tourists makes local food a key element to promoting tourism in our area. We hope that this event has helped to open the door for local food and for our producers and that you’ll soon be seeing more local food available in the area! We are looking forward to next year’s event!