Ont. pledges $714K to “local food” projects

A market research project to better serve Toronto’s ethnic food demand and a promotion for two new Ontario apple varieties are among 12 “local food” projects seeing provincial funding.

The provincial government on Tuesday pledged a total of about $714,000 to a dozen projects in the third round of funding from its Ontario Market Investment Fund, a four-year program that has so far backed 35 projects with over $2.1 million.

The fund, part of a larger provincial “buy local” strategy, is meant to help develop economic opportunities through trade events, marketing campaigns and industry research initiatives that foster partnerships and collaboration to promote Ontario foods.

Funds invested in this round include:

  • $50,000 for a publicity campaign for Honeycrisp and Ambrosia apples at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and grocery stores, through the Ontario Apple Marketers’ Association;
  • $55,500 for a University of Guelph/Toronto Food Policy Council project in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), to help farmers determine what ethnic foods are in demand among 34 specific ethnic groups, whether those foods can be adapted for production in Ontario and how;
  • $100,000 for a Farm Share Canada/Ontario Association of Food Banks project to increase accessibility of Ontario produce at food banks in the GTA; research distribution logistics throughout the province; and educate food bank users about the valuable nutrition in Ontario fruits and vegetables;
  • $65,000 for a new Ontario Tender Fruit Marketing Board media campaign, including kits, farm visits and educational materials, to promote fresh Ontario peaches, pears, plums, prunes, sweet and sour cherries this summer;
  • $25,000 for Ontario Pork to produce targeted consumer communications marketing materials, such as recipes, identifying logos, and information for health care providers;
  • $75,000 to the Toronto Environmental Alliance to develop a web-based information portal to help connect Toronto area growers, distributors, food service providers and others who grow or purchase local food;
  • $45,000 for a new map and website developed by the Brant County Federation of Agriculture, the County of Brant and Wilfrid Laurier University to include recipes, a local event calendar, and other marketing and tourism information, as well as culinary tourism activities and local-food promotion by a local group, “Bounty of Brant;”
  • $100,000 toward the Ontario Wine Awards and Sip and Savour events, which last year brought out 250 industry representatives and 450 consumers, and is to be promoted throughout the GTA in electronic and print media, radio, posters, interviews, websites and other events;
  • $40,000 for a “focused” marketing campaign by the Fresh Grape Growers’ Marketing Board to boost awareness and sales of the new table grape variety through consumer and retail promotions;
  • $89,325 for the Perth County Visitors’ Association’s project to promote the entire Stratford area as a prime culinary destination, working with farmers, restaurateurs and other tourism destinations to promote the area’s high-quality dining opportunities;
  • $35,054 for the CURD Festival at Prescott-Russell, which in August will expand to include a “wide variety” of local food, beverages and crafts at an event that already attracts more than 20,000 visitors a year and has invited 30 local producers to set up booths; and
  • $34,250 for a project conducted by the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, to make fresh vegetables more readily available to northern Ontario residents by way of a small-scale commercial greenhouse, securing agreements for cost-effective freight charges to distribute the vegetables, setting up a distribution network, getting grocery retailers to commit to carrying the produce on their shelves, and conducting research on consumer preferences for local food.

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