SOUTHGATE – A meat processing facility here is now running under the banner of Local Harvest Ontario Inc.
On Aug. 7, Local Harvest announced the purchase and acquisition of the former Apple Meadows federally licensed slaughter and meat processing facility just east of Mount Forest on Highway 89.
Local Harvest Inc., a wholly owned division of Artisan Farms Direct Ltd., is a provider of local, naturally-raised beef and lamb for markets across Ontario, Quebec and other Canadian locations.
The Mount Forest plant will provide custom harvest and processing services for Artisan Farms Direct Ltd. and its community of family farmers that raise without hormone and antibiotic (RWA) Angus beef, RWA grass fed beef and lamb, and certified organic beef, producing NAMI specified boxed beef and lamb in minimum process lots for beef cattle and lamb.
Brian Read, vice-president of Local Harvest and general manager of the Mount Forest facility, said the new owners took over on Aug. 6 and after a brief shutdown had the facility operating again by Aug. 14.
By Sept. 3, he told the Advertiser in a telephone interview, the plant had already processed more than 180 cattle and about 100 lambs.
Custom slaughter and processing services are available to other “like-minded locally-based value chains,” to assist in marketing their beef and lamb offerings to consumers in the GTA, southern Ontario, Quebec and beyond, the company states in a press release.
“It’s another opportunity for the local producers,” said Read.
“If they work together and form some sort of supply chain, I’d love to work under that environment.”
Artisan Farms president Greg Nolan stated, “The facility is located in cattle country, which makes it an attractive location to harvest livestock as local producers do not have far to transport livestock, and it is only an hour and 20 minutes northwest of our Artisan Farms distribution centre.”
The facility will be operated by Local Harvest Ontario Inc., licensed with the CFIA under the Safe Food for Canadians Act, and is expected to employ up to 75 people when operating at full capacity.
Read said the facility currently has about 35 employees.
Local Harvest Ontario Inc. officials say the company believes in Ontario agriculture and its farmers, and has a committed plan to continue investing, improving and expanding capacity of the Mount Forest facility over the next three years to meet demand.
Read said the company has already put about $500,000 into improvements at the plant, with more upgrades planned.
“It happened in less than a month. You really got to compliment my team … I really respect all my team’s effort in this community,” Read stated.
“The plant has undergone improvements in recent years, and we will continue to upgrade the facility over the next three years.”
He added, “Our commitment is to provide not only the highest quality beef and lamb products, but to also provide a safe and secure workplace environment for our employees, all the while being mindful to both the financial success of operations, and becoming an integral component of agribusiness in South Western Ontario.
“Given the recent COVID-19 outbreaks around the world, we have plans to ensure we address employee and staff safety before we start operations.”
Officials say the plant is owned jointly by two Ontario farming families with a long history in Ontario’s beef community: the Nolan family of Markdale, who own and operate Bar 5 Stock Farms, Blue Mountains Angus, and Nolan Angus Farm; and, the Arthur Schickedanz family of Uxbridge, which operates AS Galten Farms in Newmarket, Galten Land and Livestock in Scugog Township, and Kawartha Meats Inc. in Little Britain.
For more information about Artisan Farms or Local Harvest contact: Artisan Farms, Mississauga, 905 670-3450, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Local Harvest, Mount Forest, 519 323-3350, email@example.com.
Information is also available at www.artisanfarms.ca and www.localharvestontario.ca.