Bakers Journal

News
Sustainable food cluster pilot project launched in Ontario


April 15, 2014
By Bakers Journal

April 15, 2014, Elgin County, Ont. – Elgin
County in southwestern Ontario is planning the first sustainable food cluster
in the region. A team of local producers, processors, and commercial and industrial
food purchasers shared their expertise and identified steps to enhance the
local food distribution system.

April 15, 2014, Elgin County, Ont. – Elgin
County in southwestern Ontario is planning the first sustainable food cluster
in the region. A team of local producers, processors, and commercial and industrial
food purchasers shared their expertise and identified steps to enhance the
local food distribution system.

Elgin is the pilot community for the
Sustainable Food System project undertaken by the Southwest Economic Alliance. The
intent of this regional project is to develop a food cluster in each county in southwestern
Ontario to sustainably grow, process, aggregate and distribute as many
different types of food as possible, for consumption within each local food
shed. The Elgin pilot initiative aims to enhance local capacity, create jobs
and serve as a template for other counties in the region.

The pilot project is a collaborative effort
involving the County of Elgin, the Elgin Federation of Agriculture, Elgin-St.
Thomas Public Health, and SWEA. A team of local producers, processors, and
commercial and industrial food purchasers shared their expertise and identified
steps that will build local capacity and enhance the local food distribution
system.

Advertisment

Many institutional organizations and the
general public alike are looking for year-round sources of minimally processed
local produce. One of the tasks identified was to look at ways to process fruit
and vegetables in Elgin County while adding value to local products. Determining
ways of addressing unused agricultural capacity was also considered to be an
important goal.

“Ontario imports $20 billion of food every
year, much of it processed,” said Tom Schell from the Centre for Sustainable
Food Systems. “Replacing these imports with sustainably produced local food will
not only create jobs in farming and rural communities, but it will also result
in a system that operates within the carrying capacity of the environment and improves
health and well-being.”

As the project planning moves ahead, broader
value-chain input will be sought. The group has established a Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/elginsustainablefoodcluster .

More information on the regional project is
available at www.sustainablefoodsystems.ca .