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Northwestern Ontario and the Thunder Bay district would greatly benefit from a sustainable agriculture education centre to promote and develop a strong local food system in the North! The Food Security Research Network located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Everdale Organic Farm located in Hillsburgh, Ontario are currently developing a partnership to develop sustainable farmer training programs for the North.
Within Canada, the diverse regions and climates translate into a complex system of food production and security. For people in Northern climates the complexity increases with the challenge to grow food in short growing seasons. Combined with the climatic challenges, the Northwestern region of Ontario is isolated, and has both limited employment and limited access to fresh local sustainable produce. Canada is currently experiencing a rapid decrease in the number of people farming, which, combined with limited new entrants into the field, will potentially place the country at greater risk for food shortages. New farmer training programs and educational opportunities for new farmers have been identified with a growing need in Canada to reconnect humans to the natural food chain. Thunder Bay, Ontario located on the North shore of Lake Superior and the surrounding region do not currently have any formal sustainable agriculture training resources. What is lacking in this region is a collaborative network and teaching farm to train new sustainable farmers. Northwestern Ontario is an ideal location to promote local sustainable agriculture.
A hands on training centre and teaching farm will bring people together to learn sustainable Northern food production methods and promote local agriculture as a viable economic option. Across Canada and around the world people are waking up to the reality that our food system is unsustainable and in peril if fundamental changes are not made at the grassroots level. National strategies are developing including the recent release of Resetting the Table: A Peoples Food Policy initiated by Food Secure Canada. We need a drastic overhaul of our national strategic food policies with input from people at all levels of the social structure. Food Secure Canada is seeking to put the power back into the hands of the people to ensure citizens are actively involved in the decisions about how food is produced, accessed and enjoyed. Recommendations from the report suggest the development of community based knowledge exchange hubs that facilitate the exchange of food knowledge, information and ideas across cultural and generational lines. Education is needed in remote and rural areas that reflect the unique food needs of various climatic and cultural regions.
Funding for this project will go towards land rentals, agriculture tools and equipment and infrastructure needed to produce local food!