Know Your Food: Janan Dean of Proof Line Farm

To celebrate Local Food Week 2023, we thought it would be great to highlight local food producers who participated in our Know Your Food event last fall. For a summary of the event, see our previous blog post!

Proof Line Farm is co-owned by Janan Dean, alongside her husband Steve McNaughten and brother-in-law, Mike McNaughten. In operation as far back as 1850, the family farm produces and sells dairy products, beef, eggs, honey, and more.

Although Janan did not grow up farming or raising animals, it is clear that she has embraced her role as Co-Owner and Head of Marketing at Proof Line Farm with passion.

With a background in social work, working in non-profit organizations, and provincial politics, Janan’s focus is also on fostering better connections between rural agriculture and the larger food system, understanding the colonial history of her farm and the land surrounding it, and food literacy. She is, after all, the current Chair of the MLFPC Executive Committee! 

Given Janan’s fervour for the food system, it was a surprise to hear that she and her husband really had no desire to take over the family farm–at first. But a year of travel, culminating in a live-work experience at a micro-dairy outside of Melbourne in Australia, inspired the couple to invest themselves and new ideas in Proof Line Farm.

They were inspired by the micro-dairying process and the ways that small batch production could respond to local needs in more sustainable ways. Janan, Mike, and Steve are now “guiding the vision for the next stage of the farm.”

Janan and her family balance an operation including 50 Holstein dairying cows, a small set of Angus-cross beef cows, 50 ISA red hens, sweet corn and field corn crops, and rotations of wheat and soybeans. This balance is made possible, in part, because of their recently installed robotic milking operation, where cows learn to milk themselves(!), and the family’s labour can be turned to other new initiatives. 

Sustainability is central to Proof Line Farm’s vision. This is already being realized in practices such as growing 85% of its own animal feed, moving to low-till methods of cultivation that promote better soil health, and in the symbiotic pairing of hens and cows on the farm. These animals must, in fact, be kept separate for bio-security reasons, but as they are rotated around the farm pastures, hens peck at the fertilizer the cows leave behind, eating the bugs that pester the cows. Future goals include investing in a bio-digester, which captures methane and converts it into usable energy, which could be recycled on-farm. Janan also spoke of wanting to fully close the loop of dairy production. This would include turning byproducts like whey (9 lbs of which are produced for every 1 lb of cheese) into new consumer products rather than using it in animal feed or, worse, throwing it away as is common industry practice.

As it grows and innovates, Proof Line Farm is becoming a notable example of community stewardship and local food advocacy. As its lead farmer, Mike is enthusiastic about the care and welfare of their animals and shares this enthusiasm with the community by offering tours to local youth groups, girl guides, and scouts. Farm tours have also been available on Saturdays, when Proof Line Farms opens its farm stand to sell their beef, corn, and other produce. Through the week, however, Proof Line Farm shows their faith in community with their self-serve “Honesty Wagon.” Here, customers can purchase fresh eggs with cash, E-transfer, or a QR code posted on the unattended cart. Eggs, says Janan, are the “hot item at the farm.” 

Finally, despite many challenges with permitting during the pandemic, Janan and her family have been planning the construction of an on-site creamery and permanent farm store, which would also provide a space for agricultural education programs. At Know Your Food last year, Janan expressed her hope that Proof Line Farm would see its new facilities built in Summer 2023 and, indeed, their website reports that their farm market building will open this August! 

Until the new farm store is operational, the online shop for Proof Line Farm is closed. However, you can celebrate Local Food Week by visiting their Honesty Wagon any day of the week for fresh eggs, jams, and honey! We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this innovative operation.

Know Your Food: Phillip Crunican of Crunican Orchards

To celebrate Local Food Week 2023, we thought it would be great to highlight local food producers who participated in our Know Your Food event last fall. For a summary of the event, see our previous blog post

Panelist and Apple Farmer Phillip Crunican arrived at Know Your Food with over 100 years farming experience in his genes.

While apples are the main product of the Crunican farm now, it was once a full-farm operation, with field crops and livestock. In 1910, Phillip’s grandfather planted their first apple trees on five acres of land. Before introducing motorized machinery in the 1950s, crops were sprayed and produce was transported by horse-drawn carts.

Apples and other produce were sold out of the Crunican farmhouse and barn. A sign told customers to “Blow your horn” when they drove up to receive service from the house. The farm shop, built in 1950, is still operating today and is home not only to Crunican Orchards’ direct sale of apples, but also offers a variety of items from other local producers, such as Bacon Acres Farm, Filsinger’s Organic Foods, and Ferguson Apiaries, to name just a few.

Under the care of Phillip and his family, the orchard has grown to produce almost twenty varieties of apple. While his grandfather originally planted 20 trees to an acre, the Crunicans now plant 400 trees to an acre. This is still a low-density rate of planting compared to other orchards who may plant up to 2,000 trees per acre.

In his talk, Phillip observed that “the industry is certainly changing a lot since my grandpa first started planting trees.” Instead of closing the farm shop each summer, the use of new controlled atmosphere storage technology means that their apples can be sold to customers year-round. This means the shop continues to support fellow producers by carrying their products year-round, too.

Even with the expansion of the farm and use of new technologies, some things remain the same at Crunican Orchards. For instance, each apple is hand-picked and hand-graded by a local workforce before being packaged for sale.

At the opening of Know Your Food, speaker Ray John asked the audience to look at their hands, and to think about and appreciate the hands that grow our food. Phillip and his family could not be more hands-on in feeding their local customers and the wider community, both with apples and by sharing space with other food businesses. With that level of care, it’s no surprise that Crunican Orchards remained a trusted source of produce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which proved to be the busiest years for the farm store so far. 

This Local Food Week, head to Crunican Orchards for a honeycrisp apple, the farm’s most sought-after variety. Or how about a russet apple, a variety first propagated over 300 years ago and still popular today?

“Come & Crunch!” says the farm’s website and, we say, go and appreciate Crunican Orchards’ century-plus-long tradition of family farming and community stewardship!

Written by Siobhan Watters

Now Online! Know Your Food: Grow, Eat, Understand

The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC) is pleased to inform you that the video recording of our “Know Your Food” event is now online!

The day proved to be enlightening for our presenters and over 100 in-person and online attendees. Read on for a summary of the event including points of interest that emerged during the discussions.

Stay tuned! We will be posting more detailed blogs about the event’s panels in the coming months.


On November 5th, 2022, MLFPC welcomed representatives from the agrifood sector, food literacy advocates, and the public to The Grove at Western Fair for a day-long event to explore and exchange ideas about the food system.

The event featured an array of guest speakers and panels addressing three key themes of food literacy: GROW, EAT, UNDERSTAND.

Ray John of the Oneida Nation, a Knowledge Sharer and Cultural Advisor to the London Catholic School Board, set the tone for the event. He asked us to think about and be thankful for the food we eat and the many hands that put their energy into producing and distributing it for the people of Middlesex-London. Our food is the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who work in agri-business in the area.

As moderator Lella Bloomer observed, agri-food accounts for more than 1/4 of all businesses in Middlesex County and has a $1.2 bill annual impact, with 7,800 jobs and $290 million in wages and salaries.

The themes GROW, EAT, UNDERSTAND allowed presenters and audience participants to examine the breadth of the food system, exploring developments and challenges in agri-food production and processing; food distribution and retailing; urban agriculture and local food markets; food access and education; as well as raising difficult questions about sustainability and those underserved by our current food system.

The recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising energy costs, along with rising food prices, emerged as important concerns during the event, as did the continuing legacy of colonialism and colonial food practices on the traditional Indigenous lands of the county.

While food systems and politics have become increasingly global in scope, the event was a rare opportunity to engage with stakeholders and issues directly linked to Middlesex-London—one we hope to repeat in the future!

“Know Your Food” would not have been possible without the work of MLFPC members and volunteers who put the event together over the course of eight months, with funding provided by the London Community Recovery Network.

The other essential ingredients for the event were the space and resources provided by The Grove and Growing Chefs! Ontario. The Grove is located at the Western Fair District in a facility once earmarked for demolition, but which has now become an agri-business hub and incubator. Growing Chefs! Ontario is one of many organisations that make their home there. Not only did Andrew Fleet, Executive Director of Growing Chefs!, deliver a compelling talk about the importance of food access and literacy for youth and their families; the organization also provided a nutritious lunch for participants and guests. It featured traditional Indigenous and locally-produced foods, including bison chili, kale salad, and apple crisp.

We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this event a success and for the collaborative spirit fostered at The Grove by our moderators, panellists, and attendees!

What’s Next?

“Know Your Food” was a unique event, exploring important issues and asking important questions about food literacy.

One of the most challenging questions was: how can we honour and continue to pursue reconciliation with the traditional Indigenous peoples of this land through our food system?

We must continue to ask ourselves and our regional governments these challenging questions. We hope the MLFPC will be a driver of conversations and action that make our food system resilient, sustainable, and inclusive for everyone.

The MLFPC’s goal is to foster connections and knowledge exchange among stakeholders of the local food system. We want you to know your food system and to become invested in it.

The event featured several volunteer-run organisations that could use your time and support, including Growing Chefs! Ontario, Urban Roots London, and the MLFPC itself!

Written by Siobhan Watters

Let’s Talk About Supporting Urban Agriculture

So far in our Vote for London’s Food System series, we’ve explored what community food security is and why protecting farmland is important. For our last installment, we are going to talk about how you can support urban agriculture this election.

What is urban agriculture?

Generally, agriculture is the act of using land to produce (grow) and distribute food. You may be more familiar with rural agriculture – think of large farm fields in the countryside. Urban agriculture is much the same, but it happens on a smaller scale within city limits.

Why is urban agriculture important? 

Primarily, urban agriculture is important because growing food within a community means food is readily available to that community. Urban agriculture removes barriers to accessing food, such as financial strain and/or a lack of transportation. Since food is immediately available and the price does not include shipping costs, food is cheaper and fresher for community members.

Additionally, urban agriculture has longer-term benefits for you and your community. Since urban agriculture projects happen right in your neighbourhood, you can easily find fresh options that can improve your physical and mental health. Urban agriculture also provides opportunities near your home to learn about food production and food issues. Close contact with how food is grown gives communities the chance to learn about food security and why rising food costs impact both consumers (you) and food producers (growers, farmers, etc.).

Another amazing benefit of urban agriculture is its positive impact on our environment. Planting gardens, cultivating fruit trees, or starting small farms creates healthy habitats for wildlife. For example, planting flowers and growing vegetables provides homes and food for bees. This leads to increased bee populations and more pollination, creating a lush ecosystem (which also benefits your garden and food production). Urban agriculture also helps the environment by cutting down on driving and food waste. When food can be sourced locally, people drive leading to lower carbon emissions. Access to a regular supply of local food means you can buy less at one time which helps prevent food spoilage and in turn, decreases food waste.

Since urban agriculture impacts communities in so many positive ways, our next city council needs to support its growth in London.

What is London’s urban agriculture like right now?

London made some positive changes to our urban agriculture by-laws in 2021. For example, if you have a large plot of land in your backyard, you may be able to build a greenhouse up to 200m2. You can also grow food in shipping containers if you get a permit! 

Despite the changes, by-laws still limit what can be grown within city limits,  London has a small, but passionate, urban agriculture scene. There are currently over 450 gardeners working within London’s 17 community gardens to provide communities access to low-cost and healthy food. Organisations like Urban Roots London have pushed through the existing red tape to make the most of London’s unused land by growing organic food and distributing it locally, proving urban agriculture can be a successful operation in London. Others see this too which is why The Grove exists; an agribusiness hub in London’s Western Fair District that provides people with the space and resources to make connections and make their ideas for bettering local agriculture a reality. As previously mentioned, London’s urban ag scene is small but passionate, and more forward, pro-urban ag city government will only see the scene grow.

However, there is still room to grow.

What can the London city council do to support urban agriculture?

While London city council is not directly responsible for the implementation of urban agriculture projects, they are in charge of advocating for bylaw changes to the provincial government. This means they can push our provincial government to give more city space to urban agriculture. If by-law changes pass, neighbourhoods could build more community gardens or start other initiatives. The city can also refine land use applications and reduce fees to ease the burden of accessing land approved for urban agricultural activities. (See our citations for specific actions municipalities should take.)

How can I vote for candidates that will support urban agriculture?

How can you ensure the candidate you vote for supports growing food in the city? Use our questions below to gauge your candidate’s interest and knowledge of urban agriculture.

  • Would you consider urban agriculture a solution to some food security issues?
  • How do you plan to grow urban agriculture within our municipality?
  • What urban agriculture initiative are you most excited about and why?
  • What changes do you think you can make to existing by-laws and programs to expand urban agriculture in London?

Other Actions You Can Take To Support Urban Agriculture

Besides voting on October 24th, here’s a list of actions you can take to support our urban agriculture community and get involved yourself:

  • Join a community garden and grow your own food. Take things a step further by saving a row and growing some food for the London Food Bank.
  • Visit the Victory Garden at the Western Fair
  • Connect with Pollinator Pathways and learn how to plant a pollinator garden
  • Buy food from urban growers 
  • Join Facebook groups to connect with urban gardeners (FUAL, etc.)


Written by Evelyna-Sophia Press
Edited by Julissa Litterick

Let’s Talk About Protecting Farmland

Ontario loses 319 acres of farmland every day. That is roughly 246 football fields or 9 family farms! Losing this agricultural land means London is reliant on importing food, making our food supply more vulnerable to disruptions in supply and price increases. 

While this is a scary statistic that can impact Londoners directly, we also have the power to protect our farmland. In the second instalment of our Vote for London’s Food System series, let’s look at London’s current relationship with urban development and how your vote can protect our farmland.

Understanding London’s Urban Development

Municipalities are essential actors in the fight against farmland loss. While the provincial government sets the precedent for land development and preservation, it is up to cities like London to interpret and implement provincial policy. 

Compared to other cities, London has had some success tackling the issue of farmland loss. In 1996, the city created an “urban growth boundary” – a dividing line between land that can be used for housing or industry and land that must be kept for agriculture or conservation. While farmland in Ontario is decreasing every year, London has seen its agricultural land increase by more than 23% in the last decade. Currently, “[a]lmost 80% of the land outside of our Urban Growth Boundary is rated as prime agricultural land.” 

However, the city is under pressure to relax its preservation policies and the urban growth boundary to allow for further residential and commercial development.  As the fastest growing city in Ontario and fourth in Canada, London is faced with a dilemma that pits the future of housing for the city’s growing population, against the continued viability of the local food system to feed that population. As we head into municipal elections, it is important that both candidates and voters understand the pressures currently placed on local farmland. 

Why Is Losing Farmland A Problem?

London’s agricultural land may have increased in recent years, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of transformation in our countryside. Overall, the trend in Ontario is that farms increase in size, while the number of farms and farmers shrink. Investors, both Canadian and foreign, are purchasing Ontario land for future development, pushing the price of farmland so high that small-scale farmers see no choice but to sell, and first-time farmers cannot afford to buy. Between 2020 and 2021 alone, the price for farmland in southern Ontario increased over 22%. Many farmers now rent land instead of purchasing it, and 20% of the land rented in Ontario is owned by corporations, pension funds, and other non-farm investors. 

It is true that farmland may be preserved as smaller farms are sold and concentrated into large operations, but the potential environmental and economic consequences remain. With large-scale, sometimes foreign-owned operations, it is less likely that profits are reinvested in the local community. And, there may be less incentive for farmers on rented land to diversify food crops to promote variety in the local diet or make operational changes to promote sustainability of the local ecosystem. The issue of farmland loss does not only concern the land itself, but who has access to that land and in what manner they use it. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has shed an even brighter light on this issue, highlighting both the significance and limitations of our local food systems. Going forward, the more resilient our local food system, the less likely we are to experience disruptions to our food supply during a crisis. If part of the city’s strategic plan is to “[i]mprove London’s resiliency to respond to potential future challenges,” farmland preservation must be on the agenda. 

How Can Our Next City Council Protect Farmland?

Besides continually discussing farmland preservation during meetings about development, our city council needs to engage with other levels of government. In fact, cities have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of residents anytime there is the opportunity to bring forward the concerns of the municipalities to provincial and federal governments. To do this, our city council needs to build relationships with our provincial and federal representatives. They can also work through formal advocacy channels, such as the Association of Municipalities Ontario and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

How Do You Know Which Candidates Prioritise Protecting Farmland?

As voters, what can we do to help protect farmland this election season? First and foremost, we need to understand how we can hold the next municipal government accountable. Take a look at candidate’s responses to the Thriving London survey. Then, use our question list below to gauge your candidate’s familiarity with and commitment to farmland preservation.  After that, review our list of other actions you can take to support farmers.

Engaging with Your Candidates

Sample questions:

  • How can you ensure that issues related to agriculture and farmland conservation are routinely on the agenda when discussing land development?
  • How will you respond to pressures to change the urban growth boundary to allow for more development on currently protected land?
  • How do you plan to work with other municipalities to promote the protection of agricultural land?
  • How do you plan to engage with farmers about issues related to land access?
  • How will you balance the needs of urban and rural residents and make policy decisions that are mutually beneficial to these groups? 
    • How do we overcome the seeming ‘divide’ between rural and urban spaces, and see agriculture as part of a system that includes both?
    • How will you balance creating affordable housing with protecting agricultural land?

What if your candidate asks you for your resources? You can always direct them to us at We’ve also curated a list of resources for policy makers that you can email to your leaders:

Other Ways to Support Farmers and Farmland


London has more farmland than other municipalities, but there is pressure to turn that land into housing or commercial properties. Our next city council needs to balance development with preserving our agricultural land so we can house and feed our community. Voting for councillors who prioritise this balance is vital for protecting the future of London’s food system. To learn where your candidates stand on preserving farmland, review responses to the Thriving London survey and use our question list to talk with your candidates directly.

Finally, check out our list for ways to support farmers and local food.

Written by Siobhan Watters
Edited by Julissa Litterick

Celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day

A letter from Agriculture More Than Ever:

Canada’s Agriculture Day is back!

Last year, the entire ag industry celebrated across the country, shared our pride, opened doors to new food conversations, and trended nationally on Twitter. And we can’t wait to do it again in 2022.
Join us on Tuesday, February 22 as we raise a fork to the food we love.

Connecting with consumers

Canada’s Agriculture Day is a time to showcase all the amazing things happening in the industry and help consumers see the connection to where their food comes from and the people who produce it. Consumers want to learn more, and this day is a great way to start the conversation.

Here are just a few ways you can get involved:

  • Post a photo, make a video, or write a blog. Share what you’re doing on social media using the hashtag #CdnAgDay.
  • Encourage your friends to show-off their culinary talents using all-Canadian ingredients.
  • Teach someone something new about agriculture. Share your knowledge and story with others.

These ideas are only suggestions – come up with your own ways to share your passion for ag and inspire others to join the conversation. It’s all about celebrating Canadian agriculture and food in engaging, fun and respectful ways.

For more inspiration, visit

We can’t wait to celebrate with you on February 22! | #CdnAgDay



Download letter as PDF


Interview with Nadine Castonguay, EnviroWestern Garden Executive and Food System Champion 2021

Nadine Castonguay, EnviroWestern Garden Executive at Western University, was selected as a Food System Champion in 2021.

Recently, Nadine led the development of the community garden located at Western University. She worked with various stakeholders across campus to organize a new and more visible location for the EnviroWestern Garden and took care of the land from watering and weeding to managing student volunteers throughout the summer. You can learn more about her positive impact on the local food system at

Q: What drew you into doing work in the food system?

A: My passions for food and the environment collide. I wanted to create a system on campus to facilitate knowledge generation and dissemination where the community could come to understand the complex dynamics of our food including the links between the economic, social, and environmental elements of how food is sourced.

Q: What do you like most about your food system work?  

A: My favourite part about food system work is the actual production of something that provides us with what we need to sustain human life. It’s crazy that we can produce outputs that contain nutrients that allow us to thrive. I appreciate that without the food system, we would not survive.

Q: What works well in Middlesex London to support your work?

A: I appreciate that there is a growing community of individuals who want to see more organic and locally sourced food available. There is a market of opportunity for new businesses to venture into sustainable agriculture.

Q: Are there local challenges that make your job more difficult?

A: There are significant barriers for new farmers such as increased land prices, the lack of knowledge around the definition of sustainable food production, and what it looks like to have a sustainable food production operation.

Q: What would you like to see in our local community to strengthen our food system?

A: I would like to see a greater emphasis on allowing individuals to grow and produce their own food in the city. For example, having more rooftop gardens, increasing the number of community gardens, and developing agricultural opportunities in neighbourhoods within London.

Community Gardens: Food, not Recreation

When the Government of Ontario closed parks, playing fields, and other “recreational amenities,” community gardens were included in the list.  On behalf of the thousands of Ontarians who rely on these gardens for food, we urgently call on the government to classify community gardens as essential food services, allowing the gardens to open in time for spring preparations and planting.

The COVID-19 pandemic is dire and forceful governmental action is certainly warranted; at the same time, the gardens, like other essential food services, could easily operate in a way that does not add to the health risks. Even though community gardens are not commercial food operations, they provide proven benefits for individuals and communities: for us, one role that stands out as crucial is the community’s food security.

Closing community gardens now effectively means that thousands of people will lose access to tonnes of fresh, local fruit and produce from their own community gardens and from the shelves of our food banks and other hunger relief organizations who benefit from those gardens. It won’t matter whether the restrictions are lifted later in the summer because without garden preparation and planting this spring, the entire growing season will be lost. We need to be in the gardens on the dry, warm days now for there to be fresh produce in August. The loss of an entire season’s worth of fresh, local fruit and produce would be a devastating blow even in a normal year, but we all know that there is nothing normal about the current situation. The loss of this season’s harvest will be much worse for our communities.

The unprecedented economic collapse we are living through is already driving up the need for emergency food services, and that need is expected to keep rising, putting additional pressure on organizations providing hunger relief. Food costs are also projected to keep rising, pushing the need for emergency food services even higher. COVID-19 is expected to result in agricultural labor shortages this summer and fall, further impacting food costs and possibly affecting production, resulting in sporadic food shortages, further destabilizing our communities’ food security. Even if there is significant funding put into emergency hunger relief later this year, without community gardens there will not be the tonnes of fresh, local fruit and produce readily available to fill that need. Food insecurity also has a curve that needs to be flattened; because community gardens are one measure for flattening it, keeping them closed steepens the curve.

Given the importance of community gardens in supporting  families, communities, and  local food banks and charitable hunger relief organizations, the closure of these gardens this spring constitutes a threat to communities’ food security at an especially vulnerable and treacherous time. They don’t have to be closed as part of the fight against COVID-19. The same physical distancing practices and protocols recommended for other essential agriculture and food services can be applied to community garden spaces (see our website for a set of recommendations). Many other locales across Canada and the US, including the province of BC, have recognized community gardens as essential food services permitted to operate under physical distancing protocols. We urge the government of Ontario to do the same, and we call on all Ontarians to support this critical action.

Benjamin Hill, chairperson
Middlesex-London Food Policy Council

Skylar Franke, executive director
London Environmental Network

Becky Ellis, chair
London Urban Beekeepers Collective
Permaculture for the People

Stephen Harrott,
Friends of Urban Agriculture London (FUAL)

Changing Faces of Agriculture

It was great to be a part of the Changing Faces of Ag Event at the Western Fair District hosted by the London Chamber of Commerce, where over 200 people gathered to show support for our local agriculture community.
Joe Dales, president of agri-food innovation at the Roundhouse Accelerator, gave the opening keynote speech highlighting the unique opportunity that Canadian Agriculture has with the vast amount of innovative farmers and technology in our area.
The 3 panelists of innovative farmers consisted of: Andrew Campbell (Fresh Air Farmer), Susan Heeman (Heeman’s) and Murray Good (Whitecrest Mushrooms), who all shared stories of innovation and disruption. Campbell emphasized the necessity for agriculture to convey to consumers that farming is not black and white. Changing the perceptions that people have of agriculture is a challenging and complicated task.
How can we help farmers tell their story? We can start by visiting local farms and sharing our experiences with others. Heeman is an advocate for living-local and agri-tourism. Local food maps are a good way to help bridge the consumer and agriculture gap. As an entrepreneur, Heeman believes people want the on-farm experience and many are willing to pay the higher price for local food.
The closing keynote speaker, Keith Merker, CEO of WeedMD described the opportunity of knowledge transfer from traditional agriculture to cannabis and vice versa. Merker said we need to concentrate on similarities and opportunities to step up into the cannabis industry with ag knowledge.
The bubble of ag is expanding and consumers are getting more curious about where their food comes from and how it is produced. But, how do we break the divide between agriculture and society? It starts by openly talking with consumers. However, influencing consumers is complicated and challenging. As our environment is changing, how do we show agriculture is valuable? Joe calls us all to support local innovative companies, farmers, and neighbours. By engaging in communication with one another, we can start to change perceptions and create new ones by learning what each other is doing.

Processing Vegetable Growers lose critical bargaining power

On December 11, 2019 Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, released a statement describing the amendments to Regulation 440. The changes will no longer allow the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) board the ability to negotiate on behalf of growers to ensure contracts are paid as negotiated. Growers are busy doing what they do best…producing food. Losing their collective bargaining power is removing a tool from their toolbox, leaving growers to take on more risk. This will result in growers feeling ignored and unsupported to make the best business decision.

In an ideal world, policies, subsidies and insurance programs would be made in the best interest of the growers. This contributes to a healthier, more sustainable food system as the growers are the closest to the land and have the knowledge about best practices. We all have an obligation to ensure that farm businesses are able to operate in a profitable and sustainable way.

There is tremendous value to organized, collective marketing for all Ontario growers, but only ifthe growers are supported in the process.  It takes work to come up with creative and innovative solutions and we need to have confidence and curiosity to pursue changes. Let’s get serious about our food system. Peggy is right we are dealing with real farmers, real families, real communities…without their success we have no food system.