Accessing the Broader Public Sector Marketplace: Local Food Hub Business Plan and Implementation Strategy

This report outlines the value of the Broader Public Sector in the south central Ontario region (SCOR) to local and regional agriculture. The ability of farmers to diversify and extend their markets is essential in this internationally competitive landscape.

It is also equally valuable to members of the Broader Public Sector in their efforts to buy and use locally produced food. This report opens up opportunity for growers and end users to work together, and also presents a business plan on how to make this happen. We know we have willing, innovative farmers across Ontario who produce high quality food. We also know that consumers want access to high quality crops whose origin and production practices are known. This is a great fit for procurement within this region and indeed the province.

This project has created links between the Broader Public Sector and the agriculture and food system which did not exist previously. This will have long term benefits for SCOR as well as the rest of the province. Identifying the business plan and path to the Broader Public Sector market for growers and buyers is essential for the long-term success of horticulture in Ontario. New business processes, such a  the development of a virtual marketplace and hub, as well as more efficient logistics, have the opportunity to transform the way Ontario farmers will do business with buyers and consumers.

Erie Innovation and Commercialization is part of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association and is charged with the task of diversifying agriculture and agri-food opportunities in the SCOR. The vision is that by 2020, agriculture in south central Ontario will be diversified, profitable, and healthy with many opportunities for the rural entrepreneur to flourish and expand. This project is certainly consistent with our goals in supporting projects and entrepreneurs that can add value to this region. Erie Innovation and Commercialization supports the development of new and innovative projects, products and processes to address diversification in the market.

The OFVGA is dedicated to the advancement of horticulture, working proactively through effective lobbying for the betterment of the industry and its farmers as a whole through advocacy, research, education, communication, and marketing.

We express our sincere appreciation to the Greenbelt Fund, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, for their financial contributions to our project . Further, we thank the SCOR Economic Development Corporation and the Project Steering Committee for their contributions to the development of this project. We also thank Millier Dickinson Blais for working with us on this report.

Read the full report here

- John Kelly, Vice-President of Innovation and Commercialization of Food&Vegetable Growers Association