Harvest season – a time to reflect, celebrate and promote Ontario’s agri-food sector, By Tracey Arts, Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

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Ontario’s agri-food sector has navigated a challenging year as a result of COVID-19. Nevertheless, our industry continues to prove its resiliency, strength and an unshakeable devotion to provide Ontarians and the world affordable, nutritious, high-quality food.

Since 1998, our province has recognized Ontario Agriculture Week as the perfect opportunity to celebrate our dynamic industry and the abundance of food our farmers produce, the Ontarians our industry employs, the rural communities we support and the economic engine we fuel.

This year, Ontario Agriculture Week runs October 5-11. Traditionally, the week falls close to Thanksgiving as it intends to celebrate the bountiful harvest and encourage consumers to source local produce and meats for their Thanksgiving dinners. OFA’s food literacy initiative, Six by Sixteen, has partnered with Farm & Food Care Ontario, Turkey Farmers of Ontario and Apple Growers of Ontario for ‘Thanksgiving 101’. The pandemic will restrict traditional holiday gathering sizes resulting in many more first-time people cooking Thanksgiving feast. The virtual event will walk viewers through the process of sourcing and making their own turkey dinner.

As we steer into the heart of harvest, it is the perfect time to reflect, acknowledge and give thanks to all of the farm families that dedicate their livelihoods to driving our economy forward and providing Ontarians with safe, fresh, high-quality products. Your hard work, passion and dedication are second to none.

For our industry to fully flourish, the agri-food sector needs to continue to garner consumer and stakeholder support. Earlier this week, OFA’s Always in Season initiative launched the “I ♥ Local Social Media Planning Kit”. The kit, which includes templates for community groups to initiate support for agriculture, local food and beverage producers, has three main goals:

  1. Support municipalities and community organizations with communications materials that increase public knowledge of Ontario Agriculture Week and other awareness events.
  2. Make it easy for municipalities, community organizations and the general public to think of Ontario agriculture, food, beverage and other agricultural products year-round.
  3. Boost support for local producers by increasing local food sales and encouraging Agri-tourism.

The agri-food sector is a powerhouse of possibilities, that has the potential to singlehandedly jumpstart economic recovery in Ontario. Contributing more than $47 billion to Ontario’s annual GDP, agri-food generates over 860,000 jobs and supports more than $8.1 billion in annual wages and salaries. Our industry is a valuable homegrown resource, positioned for growth, and all involved should be extremely proud of its economic contributions and potential.

A sliver of positivity that has come out of the pandemic situation is that it has showcased consumer interest and demand for locally grown and produced food. So let’s all do our part this Thanksgiving to support our farm families by filling our plates with an array of fresh, local Ontario grown products.

As an industry, we have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for this agriculture week.

For more information, contact:

Tracey Arts
Director
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-521-0747

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