Volume 2 - Issue 1 - January/February 2022
|Message from the President - Here's to a great 2022!|
As we enter 2022 we are able to reflect on what we have achieved these last two years. Adversity and struggle are nothing new to us. Unfortunately this time it was a struggle that we shared with everyone in our community and the world at large.
As agricultural entrepreneurs we only know one way to do things; adapt and overcome. I truly believe we have finally pushed past this obstacle called COVID-19. It is not going away, just sadly becoming part of everyday life. A life without restrictions and lockdowns. A life with community and family celebration together in person. A life with education and sports for our children. A life with travel and relaxation to help recharge our minds, bodies, and souls. I pray I am right!
The elimination of many restrictions is perfectly timed for this year’s Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention (OFVC) being held next week in Niagara Falls. It will be a wonderful change to gather in-person with friends, colleagues, and peers as we network, learn and laugh.
To celebrate this return to a more normal way of life, we are going to kick things off with an exclusive Farm Fresh Ontario event Tuesday night.
Not only will we enjoy great food, drinks, and a presentation by marketing expert Joel Noden but your ticket price also includes tokens for the arcade and a ride on the sky wheel! It doesn’t matter what age you are; everyone loves the arcade and a ride on the sky wheel. Especially a sky wheel that provides you with a glorious view of the Falls.
Our executive director Kevin Vallier along with input from our board members has put together a great lineup of speakers and panel discussion at this years OFVC that we think will provide a variety of relevant topics that will inspire and educate. Personally, I am excited to hear the great Allan Cross (radio station CFNY / host of “History of New Music”) and his presentation on how music influences customers buying behavior and mood. A big shout out to member Karen Whitty of the 13th Street Winery for that great topic suggestion.
We are also preparing for our Annual General Meeting that will be held virtually in mid-March. More details along with an AGM package will be distributed to members in the very near future.
I have every faith that 2022 is going to be a great year for our sector, our association and most importantly for you, our members. I hope to see many of you next week in Niagara Falls!
|Getting Farm Fresh at OFVC|
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention will be back in action and in-person next week. After being forced to go virtual due to the pandemic the vendors, speakers and attendees will once again be walking the hallways and filling the meeting rooms at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre Feb. 23 and 24.
Farm Fresh Ontario has lined up a great list of speakers and panel discussions that we hope will provide great content and networking.
For FFO members the conference unofficially kicks-off Tuesday night when members will gather at Boston Pizza for great food, drinks, and fun as well as a chance to hear marketing expert Joel Noden. Tickets are just $65 each and can be purchased at the event website.
Noden is an entrepreneurial executive with over 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, retail and food operations as well as corporate communications and government relations. He’s shared his expertise over the years, leading organizations as well as teaching and training institutions and students around the world. Noden will focus on how to harness the power of social media to increase your brand and bottom line.
This year’s Farm Fresh Ontario awards will also be handed out Tuesday night. All three recipients have confirmed their attendance. Join in the celebration and get your tickets today!
The speakers and panels on Wednesday and Thursday will cover a wide array of topics including: planning for your expansion and new build; how music influences your customers’ buying habits; the process of selling and making alcohol on your farm; members’ success stories; and of course our keynote speaker, Freshii founder and CEO Matthew Corrin.
Corrin’s talk, entitled, Building Your Omni-Channel Arbitrage, will touch on several topics relative to Ontario’s farmers who operat in the diversified farming space. His fireside chat is tailored to our members and will look at how to diversify to your business and get your product(s) in multiple markets for success.
|Member Spotlight: Leading Lady - Hollis English and Murphy's Farm Market|
Farm Fresh Ontario’s own Hollis English of Murphy’s Farm Market and Bakery will be the keynote speaker for the Women in Agriculture Breakfast at the OFVC happening next week.
Those in attendance should listen closely because as far as women in ag goes; they will be listening to one of the best. “It’s wonderful to get the opportunity,” said Hollis who will be speaking at the conference for a third time.
Her talk will focus on her many experiences and lessons learned over the years. Hollis said that she’s recently invested a lot in leadership coaching. “It’s helped with the mindset of how to approach challenging times.” She said one of the key things she’s learned over the years is building a team that shares the same values.
The oldest of five children, Hollis grew up with the farm experience. Her mom and dad operated a farm market since the 1980s. “I was around it all the time. I grew up with having it in my life,” she explained.
As her parents expanded the potato farming business the farm market was scaled back. After graduating from the University of Guelph with a degree in Landscape Architecture and returning from England where she worked as a nanny, Hollis saw an opportunity to rejoin the family business.
“I decided to return and reenergize the farm market,” she said. In 2010 the market reopened with significant renovations including the addition of a bakery. She said her brother had a passion for the farming side and so it became a good fit with each having their own parts of the business to focus on.
Like a lot of business owners, Hollis wasn’t sure what to expect when the global pandemic arrived in Ontario and things began shutting down. However, with Ontarians new-found appreciation for shopping local and eating locally grown produce and baked goods, business was steady. Hollis said there was more traffic and an increase in sales during the past two years. “People wanted to stay local and have outdoor experiences,” she explained.
Murphy’s employs about 30 staff both full and part time during the peak season. And while business is good there is still uncertainty with the pandemic as it continues down a path of an open, close, open, close pattern. “It’s still one day at a time. As things open up we will plan more for the future. We certainly think bigger picture but it is tough when things are so inconsistent.”
What’s her advice to women getting into the ag sector? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I learned a lot through the sharing of information. Things like the FFO bus tours - my dad said those were mandatory,” she said with a laugh.
“This industry is so supportive of each other and it’s important to connect with others.”
With key public health and health system indicators continuing to improve, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, moved to the next phase of reopening yesterday.
Last month, Ontario released its plan to follow a cautious and phased approach to lifting public health and workplace safety measures if health indicators continued to remain stable and improve. Positivity rates have fallen and new admissions to hospital and ICU have been declining week over week, signalling that the Omicron peak is behind us. Over the coming days and weeks, these trends are expected to continue, allowing the province to safely accelerate its timelines.
Effective February 17, 2022
Ontario will further ease public health measures, including, but not limited to:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
- Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
- Removing capacity limits in the following indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to:
- Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
- Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
- Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
- Allowing 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas
- Allowing 50 percent of the usual seating capacity for concert venues and theatres
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs
- Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.
Capacity limits in other indoor public settings, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail and shopping malls, will be maintained at, or increased to, the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance.
In addition, as of 8:00 a.m. this morning (Feb. 18), Ontario is expanding booster dose eligibility to youth aged 12 to 17. Appointments can be booked through the provincial booking system and the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, as well as at select pharmacies administering the Pfizer vaccine. Appointments will be booked for approximately six months (168 days) after a second dose. To book an appointment online, individuals must be 12 years old at the time of appointment.
Effective March 1, 2022
Ontario intends to take additional steps to ease public health measures if public health and health system indicators continue to improve. This includes lifting capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings.
Ontario will also lift proof of vaccination requirements for all settings at this time. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. Masking requirements will remain in place at this time, with a specific timeline to lift this measure to be communicated at a later date.
To manage COVID-19 over the long-term, public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local context and conditions.
Businesses that have questions about public health and workplace safety measures can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Editor: Kevin Vallier, Executive Director, Farm Fresh Ontario
What do you want to see in this newsletter? Do you have any news or stories to share? Please provide your feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org