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Volume 2 - Issue 4 November/December 2022
Message from the Chair - Family, Friends, Future
Message from the Chair - Family, Friends, Future
The end of year holidays are about reflection and celebrating with family and friends.

When we talk about the “Farm Fresh Family” we don’t say it in jest. Many of us have grown up in this industry together. We’ve struggled to get through tough times together. We’ve celebrated each others’ successes together. Most importantly, we’ve sought advice and guidance from fellow members and and offered the same when it’s been asked of us.

As a family we have come through what will no doubt be the most difficult time in our association’s history. We are stronger for it and future challenges and obstacles will pale in comparison to the hurdles we faced over the past two years.

Our association has found a new direction and purpose thanks to the input our members provided during the strategic review process which has helped guide us through these challenging years. Thank you all for your trust and faith in your directors.

As my time as your board chair nears its completion, I reflect fondly on what we have accomplished over the past couple of years despite the challenges of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and global instability. We have added new members, got our bus tour up and running again, held a summer social event, brought back in-person professional development sessions, and made great strides in working with stakeholders to tackle important issues like reducing red tape in the planning and building processes, liability and rising insurance costs.

I want to thank my fellow board members for their time, energy and commitment these past two years. Their support and advice was greatly appreciated. It’s not easy to volunteer your time while owning a business, raising a family and other volunteer commitments in the community. We are stronger and better positioned as an agricultural association than ever before. As a family we have supported each other and lifted each other up.

It’s been an honour and a pleasure to serve as your board chair. I am excited to see the association continue to grow and thrive in 2023 and beyond. We hope you will renew your membership and participate in the many events we are planning for the upcoming year beginning with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention being held in Niagara Falls, February 22 and 23. We’ve put together a diverse and interesting lineup of speakers that covers topics like marketing, navigating red-tape, motivation, inspiration and social media. I hope to see you there!

In the meantime, on behalf of the entire board, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays and may you enjoy them with family and friends. Here’s to good health and happiness!

Thomas Wilson
Board Chair
Farm Fresh Ontario announces speakers for OFVC
Farm Fresh Ontario announces speakers for OFVC
The lineup is set and it's a good one!

Farm Fresh Ontario will have seven interesting and diverse sessions at the 2023 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention. From experts in marketing and planning to inspiration and leadership, there is something for everyone.

Leading off will be Dr. David Posen, a family and emergency physician for 17 years before devoting his time exclusively to stress management, lifestyle counseling and psychotherapy. As both a keynote speaker and seminar presenter, David has spoken widely to education, government, business and professional groups across North America and parts of Western Europe. His areas of expertise include Stress Mastery, Work-Life Balance, Workplace Stress, Resilience & Mastering Change.

Dr. Posen will be followed by a panel of experts providing advice on Navigating the Red Tape Roundabout. The afternoon sessions include Food Trends and How to leverage them in on-farm Markets presented byJo-Ann McArthur, President of
Nourish Food Marketing. Closing out day one will be Emily Sousa and Pam Duesling as they present their research findings on Guidelines on Permitted Uses as a Tool to Achieve Farmland Protection, Farm Diversification and Economic Benefits: Assessing effectiveness and identifying best practices.

Day two of the convention will feature the inspiring and heart wrenching story of singer/song writer Carl Dixon who survived a near death experience in a horrific car accident only to return to the stage to perform.

Is Facebook dead? Is Tiktok just for kids? Nicole Marenick
Managing Director, Maren Marcoux Marketing Inc. will tell you. She'll provide all the latest stats and strategies to help you improve your social media game.

The session everyone has been talking about, Farming for our Grandchildren: Leadership in the Military and Farming Communities in times of Chaos by keynote speaker LGen (Ret) Michael Day will close out the convention. He has commanded at every level and rank in a variety of units and deployed around the globe. In addition to having the privilege of serving and commanding within his Regiment, the majority of his field and command time was as an Operator within Canada’s Counter Terrorist and Special Forces community commanding both Joint Task Force Two (JTF 2), Canada’s Special Operations Forces Command, the latter during Canada’s hosting of the Winter Olympics, as well as a variety of other command assignments.

We hope to see you there! Register at ofvc.ca
State of Ontario Tourism Report released
State of Ontario Tourism Report released
Earlier this week, the Tourism Industry of Ontario (TIAO) and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the inaugural State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report, a blueprint for the growth and recovery of the sector.

Ontario’s tourism industry is a vital contributor to the economy, representing $36 billion of the province’s GDP. While domestic and inbound travel improved in the latter half of 2022, the industry is not expected to recover from the pandemic until 2025.

This report calls for a comprehensive strategy that addresses workforce development, regulatory burdens, infrastructure deficits and regional disparities. Recommendations were informed by two policy roundtables held in the Summer and Fall of 2022, bringing together tourism operators, industry experts, associations, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade from across the province.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Benjamin Tree Farm - All about growth
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Benjamin Tree Farm - All about growth
Photo from left: Sarah, Gerald, Leon and Heather Dematier of Benjamin Tree Farm.

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

Located in Waterloo, the Benjamin Tree Farm story is that of family and growth.
Bill and Doris Hartman, with daughter Heather and her husband Leon started the seasonal business on their home farm in 1986. Thousands of seedlings were planted for harvest as Christmas trees.

In 2009, Bill and Doris retired and Gerard (Leon and Heather's son), along with their nephew, Patrick Doyle, took over the management and day-to-day operations. Gerard’s wife, Sarah, also plays an instrumental role on the management side.

What started out as a hobby farm expanded in 2010 with the addition of a nursery. The business grew to the point where Sarah decided to join the team full time, handling the scheduling and administration. There are about 2,000 trees available to cut, standing between six and seven feet tall. Premium trees are brought in for sale as well.

The entire farm is about 45 acres.

Not only did the farm expand outdoors with the addition of the nursery, but the gift shop inside expanded as well. This expansion, allowed for a dramatic increase in vendors going from what was about 35 a few years ago to 80 vendors today. There is a distinct local flavour to the gift shop as all of the vendors are all within about an hours drive of the farm.

Starting in April, Benjamin Tree Farm is open five days a week. The operation is closed from January to March.

In 2020 they decided to sell pumpkins as well. That same year they also opened a playground and sandhill for the kids visiting the farm.

While the day-to-day operations are run by Pat, Gerard and Sarah, both Heather and Leon help out during the busy times. Leon is an engineer and runs a successful consulting firm.

Sarah says it’s been a learning curve with the growth in business and expansions into a nursery, pumpkins, larger gift shop and children's play area. “Farm Fresh Ontario has been a great resource. We’ve learned so much from the farms around us and other members. It’s been very helpful,” Sarah said.
Sold out bus tour rolls through Collingwood, Barrie
Sold out bus tour rolls through Collingwood, Barrie
56 people. 6 farms. 1 bus. 2 days. That's the box score for Farm Fresh Ontario's bus tour 2022 as the popular event it made a triumphant post-pandemic return in November.

With the beautiful Blue Mountain Resort providing home base for Farm Fresh Ontario members, the tour started off the evening before with keynote speaker and author Neil Thornton. Providing insight, real life examples and humour, Thornton had the audience engaged from the start.

Day one on the tour featured Barrie Hill Farms, Heritage Estate Winery and Cidery, Nicholyn Farms and then a delicious dinner at Georgian College prepared by their culinary students.

The second day featured more great farms including Goldsmith's Farm Market and Bakery, Georgian Hills Vineyards and Sheldon Creek Dairy.

A big thank you to our host farms! Each farm offered a unique experience and the tours and insights provided by the hosts were both educational and interesting.
Funding Announcement - Grow Ontario Strategy
Funding Announcement - Grow Ontario Strategy
As part of the government’s Grow Ontario Strategy, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has launched the Food Security and Supply Chain Fund. The targeted initiatives support economic recovery and resiliency of the agri-food sector in two critical areas:
  • Supply Chain Stability and Adaptability Program
  • Expanding Job Entry Pathways
The Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) is administering the $9.8 million Supply Chain Stability and Adaptability Program on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

The application intake has now opened for the Supply Chain Stability and Adaptability Program. The program consists of two streams: the Agri-Food Supply Chain Resiliency Analysis Stream and the Agri-Food Supply Chain Infrastructure Investment Stream.
Eligible applicants include:
  • Ontario Agri-Food Organizations (for the Agri-Food Supply Chain Resiliency Analysis Stream only); and,
  • Ontario Agri-Food Businesses, including Farms and Food Processing Businesses
Application deadlines are:
  • Agri-Food Supply Chain Resiliency Analysis Stream, Thursday, January 26, 2023
  • Agri-Food Supply Chain Infrastructure Investment Stream, Thursday February 9, 2023
The Program guide and application materials can be found on the AAC website or register here to join the upcoming virtual information session:
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. EDT
Editor: Kevin Vallier
Contact: kevin@farmfreshontario.com
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