A western Ontario cheese and butter co-op that recently took a hit from fire at its facility plans to take its curds on the road, as one of three new recipients of funds for local-food projects.
The province on Friday announced three separate grants for companies and groups in the Bruce County area — including $54,500 from the Ontario Market Investment Fund for Pine River Cheese and Butter Co-operative’s investment in a refrigerated van.
The Kincardine-area co-op’s van is expected to travel the province, allowing consumers to sample Pine River’s cheese curds and to take in demonstrations at local grocery stores, malls and food-related events.
The co-op’s processing plant was damaged in a fire in early September. The company said in October it would move its cutting and packing work into its retail space and find a temporary retail site while restoration work was underway.
Pine River then announced in November it would use Kincardine’s Hive n’ Hoe store, owned by honey producers Guy and Gail Anderson, as a storefront for its products during the winter months.
The Andersons’ own honey company, Anderkin Foods, also got a pledge Friday of provincial funding, worth $44,585 from the Rural Economic Development program for upgrades and expansions at its plant.
The program funding will go toward new processing equipment and an updated bottling system, which in turn are expected to allow the company to create two new jobs and retain six others.
The funding is “also supporting local farmers who house Anderkin hives,” the province noted.
“Having the provincial support to seize new market opportunities beyond specialty stores in Ontario, (the U.S.) and overseas, has been key in our continued success,” Guy Anderson said in the province’s release.
A third pledge was made Friday worth $13,200 to the Grey Bruce Agriculture and Culinary Association for its its Grey Bruce Local Food Project.
The funding, coming also from the Ontario Market Investment Fund, is to go toward marketing materials profiling area farmers, plus a new mobile display and “tasting units” to promote local farmers and food products at community events.
The association also plans to work with the local health unit to run a series of 10 cooking classes aimed at helping consumers use seasonal vegetables and local foods.