While our main focus is our online ordering system, there are other projects the CLFC is involved in! The projects we get involved with are to help achieve our goals of expanding local food production, and finding ways to increase distribution of goods produced here in Northwestern Ontario. These include:
Leveraging Local Food Purchases in Northwest ON 2017-18
Leveraging Local Food Purchases in Northwest ON, will increase the amount of Ontario food products purchased by Ontario’s wholesale distribution, foodservice and retail markets; and enhance the capacity of small and medium sized regional Ontario farms and processors to access mainstream markets. Utilizing our current online farmers’ market, and interactive food map, we will streamline local product purchasing and distribution to area retail and wholesale markets, while simultaneously strengthening local policy to support Ontario food purchases. We also plan to expand our transportation network, which currently services Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Kenora, Ignace & Upsala, to serve more communities.
In partnership with Lakehead University’s Food Security Research Network, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Northwestern Health Unit, municipalities, and other key partners across the region, we will lead the development of a food charter for the Kenora & Rainy River Districts, to encourage policy and commitment to support local foods. This Charter will emphasize a collaborative, regional approach to collectively address challenges and leverage assets. Local policy is needed to align municipal level commitment with provincial objectives for increased Ontario food sales. Strengthened policy is critical to ensuring continued support for local foods in our district, and to overcome key barriers to growth in the agricultural sector.
A food charter is a value, vision, or principle statement, and/or series of goals, written by a city, town or region that has a broad base of support and describes what a community wants their food system to look like. It is a “reference document” for municipal decision makers. A food charter raises awareness and education about food issues, and forms a basis for action. A regional food charter can provide a platform for connecting existing local food projects across municipalities. (North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, 2014)
A regional food charter can highlight collective goals of the municipalities within a region, which can lead to a regional collaboration in identifying strategies to address the issues regarding local food production. (Best Practices in Local Food: A Guide For Municipalities. p 39 )
Agricultural Co-ordinator 2016-17
From May 2016-17, CLFC hired Andrea Habinski to complete a one year internship with the Co-op in the role as the Agricultural Co-ordinator. Andrea was born and raised in Sioux Lookout and completed a Bachelor and Masters of Science in Animal and Poultry Sciences before returning to Northwestern Ontario. The goal of the internship was to increase the use of local food by institutions in the region and to help farmers access programming and grants to increase their capacity to serve these larger markets.
Over the course of the year, our intern successfully completed projects to increase the purchase and production of local food in the area. Click here to learn more about this project.
On December 18, 2014, Kenora MP and Minister for FedNor, the Hon. Greg Rickford, announced $50,000 in federal funding to develop an online local food mapping and distribution network. The goal of which is to increase the visibility and accessibility of local foods, and identify opportunities for business growth in the regional food distribution system. In February of 2016, www.nwofoodmap.com was made live, and it showcases local food production, and availability, all across Northwestern Ontario.
So what does that mean for you? If you’re a farmer looking to expand, it means you can able to go online and see what other producers in Northwestern Ontario are already doing – so you can identify underserved markets. If you’re a consumer, you will be able to look at our map and see just how much is being produced right in your own back yard! You can also find restaurants that serve local food!
The Community Greenhouse- 2014-15
Started with an Indigogo crowdsourcing campaign, the Community Greenhouse is a way we can extend the growing season and increase local supply. Construction began in late 2014, with operation beginning late in the spring of 2015.
The greenhouse features a number of community plots – available to local schools, clubs, and co-op members for an annual rental fee. The rest of the greenhouse will be dedicated to production by the CLFC to increase the amount, and variety, of produce available to our members each year. Local schools, with help from our staff, have been using their garden plots to teach grade school students about planting methods, and how things grow. Sharing knowledge is another big part of our mandate!
What’s next for the Community Greenhouse? We’re working on securing funding for a full hydroponic system. It’s a very efficient way to grow, and the results can be phenomenal. As a bonus, our members will be able to see how it works, and it will give us another opportunity to share knowledge of this unique way to grow food.