let's talk farm animals

On-the-road displays are a credit to farming

Guelph Mercury
Owen Roberts
September 08, 2021

Ontario farmers - and those who represent them—are hitting the road waving their eat-local, eat-healthy flags.

Farmers are determined to capitalize on a market just waiting for reasons to support them, and to better understand where food comes from.

Provincial Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky was in Guelph late last month to announce details about the new There’s No Taste Like Home mobile educational trailer. The ministry says the trailer, outfitted with a fully equipped kitchen, will be used to promote local food through cooking demonstrations and tasting opportunities at industry, community and school events across the province.

This is a great idea. Local food is a loose term that, depending on its application, can mean food from next door, the next county, or from several counties away. The mobile education trailer can help bridge the gap and introduce foods from one part of the province to the other. This will resonate with those who believe that no matter where in Ontario food originates, it’s still local food.

The project also deserves kudos for going to schools. That’s where the appreciation for local and healthy food needs to be nurtured the most. Jim Clark, executive director of the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association (which developed and operates the trailer, with support from the province), said this project pushes his organization’s marketing efforts to a new level.

Then there’s FarmzOnWheelz, a new interactive exhibit from the Ontario Farm Animal Council, which debuted at this year’s Canadian National Exhibition. This 400-square-foot exhibit is intended to help teenagers and their families get a up-close look at, according to the council, “what’s cool about farming.”

The council calls it the first of its kind, and for good reason. FarmzOnWheelz was designed and built at a cost of nearly $1 million by the Ontario Science Centre, in a drive toward solid content and excellent delivery. With the centre’s help, FarmzOnWheelz will increase the awareness, understanding and acceptance of the benefits, value, technologies and innovations in farming, says the council.

Joining this debut at the exhibition was a new video called Know Farmers Know Food. I’ve seen it, and it’s gorgeous, with superb footage and sound, and exciting editing. In fact, the lion’s share of this video is also being used to describe and promote Ontario agriculture for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists congress that’s coming to Guelph and Niagara Falls in 2011. We showed it earlier this summer to a global audience at the federation’s annual meeting in Texas, and jaws literally dropped. Fantastic.

And finally, next week thousands of visitors - including, I suspect, a lot more consumers than ever before—will take to road themselves, headed for to Woodstock for Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. The three-day event, which has its administrative headquarters in Guelph, has appreciably beefed-up its good-food component this year, with a new feature called Celebrating Healthy Living.

It’s based on the growing popularity of the local food movement. A twist is that it’s highlighting how farm families can benefit by diversifying into local food and agri-tourism. It promises short, snappy speaker presentations (for non-farm audience members too) focussed on growing local, exotic and organic produce, seasonal eating, fitness and active living, and home decorating. There will also be a large food preparation trailer hosting a variety of cooking demonstrations.

The late Ginty Jocius, who founded the show, said farmers need somewhere they can do business, glimpse into the future and network, all in one place. Certainly the way this year’s show reflects local food and consumer interest in agriculture is consistent with his vision.

Owen Roberts teaches agriculture communications at the University of Guelph.

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Posted by FFC on September 21st, 2009 :: Filed under Uncategorized
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