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Tuesday April 27th 2021 -- le mardi 27 avril 2021

Consultez la version française de cette Infolettre ici.

Local Food Portal Launch Only Days Away!

Excitement is building and we hope that it is contagious throughout the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food community! Next week, the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network will open the Local Food Portal to the public, in partnership with Kitchener-based company, Local Line.

As outlined in the previous newsletter, this e-commerce portal aims to connect consumers and wholesale buyers with a collection of e-stores operated by farmers, food artisans, beverage makers, plus e-markets operated by the Farmers’ Markets in our area.

In addition, this platform will help EOAN members to market and showcase their products, all the while exhibiting available quantities with pickup and delivery options, and payment options. We encourage farmers and food producers to register here!

This portal will increase sales, offer some terrific visibility for producers, food artisans, and Farmers’ Markets alike, thus contributing to a strong local economy.

“Think LOCAL Food.”

EOAN AGM just weeks away

Your Network is working hard to encourage members and consumers to Think LOCAL Food and to spearhead a local food portal (see separate article), set to be up and running on May 1st. We invite members to attend our Annual General Meeting on June 17th 2021, from 5pm to 7pm.

Organizers will be keeping an eye on COVID-19 restrictions, but the plan is to host the event outside at a local farm. Thus, members will discover said food farm, participate in person in the AGM in order to influence the direction which EOAN should follow, as well as electing new members of the Board of Directors, and network with other members. Food and drink will be provided.

In Brief

 

Ontario beer allowed at Farmers' Markets

In its latest budget, the Province – through its Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario – is allowing Ontario beer producers to ask the AGCO for an occasional extension of their production site brewery retail store in order to sell eligible beer at Farmers' Markets. The regulation formerly applied only to Ontario wine, cider and eligible spirit producers to sell at Farmers’ Markets.

Ontario to boost health and safety through technology program

The Province of Ontario is following up with steps announced in last fall’s budget and is introducing a cost-share program to help producers and workers stay safe and healthy (COVID-19 concerns) thanks to new technology, all the while enhancing productivity.

The Agri-Tech Innovation Program is seeking Early Adapters (applications between May 17 and June 21, 2021) who will submit technological solutions to their farming operation and processor businesses, enhance protection for workers, and introduce state-of-the-art equipment.

The government is willing to invest up to 35% of the cost (capped at $100,000). For information: Agriculture Information Contact Centre at 877-424-1300 or by e-mail.

Local Line webinars yielded valuable information

Your EOAN team attended two recent online webinars presented by Local Line, our partner with the Local Food Portal.

Webinar 1, “Selling Online, in Person or Both: Doing Business as a Farmer in 2021” (April 14) touched on the importance of the producer/consumer relationship in order to tailor the online presence and product offerings. The three panelists also insisted on the importance of social media in a marketing campaign. Photos and a short welcome message are key as well as finding a brand for the business. The best advertising often comes from customers talking to their friends about your business. Above all, producers are encouraged to “stick to their purpose” (things they do well).

Webinar 2 (April 21) was called “The Digital Farmers’ Market: Tips and Tricks for Market Managers” and garnered about 40 participants. The guest market manager panelists (Stephanie Hayes from Vancouver, Washington and Reza Djalal from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) confirmed that their respective market had to “innovate” and embrace online marketing as the pandemic hit last year. Some customers no longer wanted to shop in person. Consumers now enjoy the convenience (and ample time) of being able to see products and place orders online, at the same time thinning out the waiting lines, hence their new motto “Skip the lines… Shop Online”.

These managers used some communications tools to inform market customers (social media, placards to announce “waiting (line) times”, information booth at the market, pamphlets). They also encouraged producers to advertise their “Top 10” best-selling products online to keep selection simple. Mrs Hayes also devised an information packet for vendors.

Both market managers successfully stressed to their respective city authority that market activity was an “essential” support to the community and encouraged local managers to partner with tourism organizations. Mr Djalal feels that local food has become a big trend which is likely to stay. To assist in communications, webinar host Local Line will distribute a “plug-and-play” Instagram template. Customer Success representative Jen Denault also works with Local Line partners in applying solutions. “We’re helping you support your community,” she concluded.

Ecology Ottawa offers first Spring Pollinator Garden Fundraiser

Ecology Ottawa is launching a fundraiser to attract the pollinators in your own garden by creating an inviting environment. Between April 22 and May 23, you may order some of ten (10) varieties of pollinating plants from reputed Ferguson Forest Centre for eventual pickup at a yet-to-be-determined Ottawa central location on May 29th and 30th. Read the details here.

Meet Your Members!

Every two weeks, we will feature two new or renewed members, specifically farmers and food and beverage enterprises. There are over 600 people receiving this newsletter. Your farm or food enterprise will also be featured in the upcoming newsletters when you join or renew your membership with the EOAN.

 

Hidden Trails Farm

Hidden Trails Farm in Hammond is a 60-acre farm operated by Benoit Jean and Kelsey Glandon and one or two employees depending on the season.

The enterprise describes itself as “a small-scale organic farm doing door-to-door deliveries weekly across Rockland and Ottawa” and “a happy producer and distributor of fresh wholesome regenerative local meats, produce and products.”

Like many EOAN members, the couple brings to their endeavours impressive backgrounds in other fields not directly related to agriculture. Ben had 12 years in the Canadian military as a Flight Engineer and a few years as a Technical Officer at the National Research Council’s Propulsion Laboratory in Ottawa. He now works as a real estate agent with Re/Max. Kelsey has many years’ administrative experience with the Department of National Defense in Ottawa where the couple met in 2008.

The couple actually decided to have a farm on their own when they were posted by the Canadian Forces to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories and became more aware of the importance of wholesome and nutritious food.

They started out with a two-acre property in Rockland and also worked as part-time milkers three evenings a week with Brabantdale Dairy Farm in Navan.

Then, in 2015, they bought the initial 10-acre property they named Hidden Trails Farm, which seemed totally suited for their aspirations, and also subsequently secured a long-term lease for another 40 acres of arable land just down the road.

Part of the key to their success is the diversity of their product range, much of which comes from fellow farmers: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, vegetables, grains, microgreens, honey, sips and now pre-made meals. These are marketed on their website and also actively promoted on their Facebook site with over 1,800 “followers” at present.

Ben credits the financial success of their operation to its diversity, noting that over the last three years, gross retail income increased from $7,700 in 2018, to $47,800 in 2019, and $119,000 in 2020.

Another key to their success is their complementary roles: while both have proved to be extremely capable and knowledgeable self-taught farmers in different sectors, Ben very much focuses on the business side of things, while Kelsey primarily stays on the farm looking after production and their three young sons.

The couple has also taken out a 50% stake in Maker Feed Co, a new local-food-based restaurant in Cumberland Ottawa with Chef Michel Gaumond, former Chef of St-Martha's Brasserie. Despite opening in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant is reportedly doing well.

Looking ahead, Ben and Kelsey see tremendous potential in joining forces with other local producers who share their values to create formal business corporations that synergistically leverage complementary products, abilities and efficiencies to take local food supply to a larger-scale level, while still preserving the values of a rural, family-based lifestyle.

 

Black Duck Farm

Black Duck Farm near Alexandria is a small-scale producer of “high-quality pastured poultry” that mainly markets its meat to online customers and at farmers’ markets.

Operated by Adrien and Marie-Rose Quenneville, the farm is totally committed to regenerative agricultural principles which are comprehensively described on the farm’s website and Facebook page.

Adrien owes his agricultural background to growing up on his father’s hobby farm in Gananoque, near Kingston where his father worked at the Royal Military College and where he and Marie-Rose met in high school.

The couple decided to go into regenerative farming when they were in Thompson, northern Manitoba where Adrien was starting out his career as a commercial pilot.

As Adrien tells it, he learned about permaculture from a fellow swimmer at the local pool in Thompson, and then took Geoff Lawton’s popular online course to become a certified permaculture designer.

When Adrien subsequently switched companies in 2014 to work for Sunwing Airlines flying out of Montreal, he and his wife had to be within a two hours’ drive of their workplace, so they bought their current property and began raising their first trial batch of 50 pasture-raised chickens.

They then signed up for the Chicken Farmers of Ontario artisanal chicken program, which allows production of up to 3,000 birds a year and have been with that program ever since.

 

In 2016, Black Duck Farm expanded to a nearby 20-acre property that where six acres of pasture are reserved for the chickens that are brooded in modified trailers, then pastured in chicken tractors.

Adrien intends to continue his career as an airline pilot, while continuing his farming activities. Most airline work is during the winter months when farm work is naturally much less, but considerably fewer flying hours during the summer when farming chores are at their busiest!

He says that he is starting the process of building a low-cost, eco-friendly house in a clearing on the wooded portion of the nearby 20-acre property in order to have more space and be closer to the poultry pasture. In due course, he will then probably sell his existing house and land, which is already becoming somewhat too small for the couple and their five children.

Adrien feels that he, Benoit Jean of Hidden Trails Farms, and a few other local producers are kindred spirits in terms of sharing the same values. He is one of the partners in the new joint enterprise that is being developed to leverage synergies and complementarities within the Eastern Ontario agri-food ecosystem.

 

 

Quote du jour

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

Wayne Gretzky

Newsletter credits

Let's recognize Jacques Des Becquets for the production of this newsletter. We thank Neil Macmillan from Cornwall, our reporter who completes the interviews and writes the stories about our members. We also thank Isabelle Masson for her proofreading.

Our Sponsors

The EOAN thanks its sponsors for their financial support to build the local food system in Eastern Ontario. Your business or agency can also join and earn visibility among our numerous members and readers.

Our Municipal Partners

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