Elora and Fergus Tourism, together with key tourism stakeholders, has been awarded $98,500 through the Ontario Market Investment Fund as part of the Ministry of Agriculture initiative in the Ontario 2008 budget.
The announcement was made Jan. 16 and the program is designed to create links that connect farmers to consumers, encouraging the connections between local agriculture and businesses.
Through Elora and Fergus Tourism with the support of the Grand River Agricultural Society, Fergus and Elora Bed Breakfast Association, Sensational Elora, Wellington Buy Local-Buy Fresh, the Wellington County Museum, and the Elora Farmer’s Market, these groups were able to successfully compete for the funding.
Their hope is to pull together segments of the community that have not had the opportunity to work on something so inclusive in the past. The grant fund will not only enhance tourism for the community, but will also do so from the downtown cores of Fergus and Elora to the rural borders. In the near future, visitors to the area will have a uniquely local experience, savouring the sites and tastes of Centre Wellington.
Ontario is trying to boost grassroots marketing efforts for provincial foods and to strengthen rural economies by encouraging more residents and businesses to buy locally grown food.
The provincial government is initially spending more than $850,000 in 15 projects, including:
– a media awareness campaign to raise the profile of Ontario apples;
– a "nothing tastes like home" mobile educational trailer to market and promote "buying local" through cooking demonstrations and tasting opportunities at industry, community, and school events.
– a Grey and Bruce County project to encourage growers to participate in the local food market, and to demonstrate that using local food is a viable option for area institutions and restaurants.
In Wellington County, Centre Wellington Township’s grant will be used to research and develop inventories of local business, develop and implement a marketing strategy and plan, including a new website, and arranging for and managing trade show participation at local festivals.
In Mapleton Township, Mapleton’s Organic Dairy will conduct 65 product sampling and demonstrations of its yoghurt and ice cream in 65 retail outlets, consumer flyers will be distributed, and consumers invited to visit the farm with their family to better understand where their food comes from and how it can be produced and distributed.
There is $7,000 from the province for that project.
Guelph Community Health Care will receive $56,250 to continue the growth of local food availability and consumption in the region.
The project is hoping to increase demand, availability, and consumption of local food by hiring a project coordinator; create an integrated marketing and communications campaign; expand existing programs; and do market research to explore new market opportunities.
All that spending comes from a four-year, $12-million Ontario Market Investment Fund program, which helps develop economic opportunities through trade events, marketing campaigns and industry research initiatives that foster partnerships and collaboration to promote Ontario foods. The program is part of Ontario’s enhanced investment in buy local initiatives.
"We are bringing together local food networks including producers, processors, retailers and individuals dedicated to selling the fresh foods that are grown and made right here in Ontario," said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Leona Dombrowsky. The Foodland Ontario program has now expanded to include meat, dairy, and eggs.