The Golden Horseshoe is not only the fastest growing region of Canada; it is also one of North America’s largest food and farming clusters. The region’s (remaining) million acres of productive soils, moderate climate and abundant water, produce over 200 types of agricultural products worth over $1.5 billion. These supply the majority of Ontario’s food processing operations and the diverse and sophisticated urban population to directly add $12.3 billion in economic activity and employment. After adding in the multiplier effect, the region’s food activities contribute over $35 billion to Canada’s economy. (This is more than the auto industry!)
In 2009, the cities of Hamilton and Toronto along with the adjoining Regions of Durham, Halton, Niagara, Peel, and York determined they should work together to reduce impediments and build opportunities. On March 2, 2012 the Greater Toronto Area Agriculture Action Committee (GTAAAC)
announced a 10-year strategy to make our Golden Horseshoe the leading food and farming cluster in the world!
This Action Plan will build on the existing assets of:
soil, water and climate managed by knowledgeable farmers
established food and beverage manufacturers
a concentration of food retail and food service businesses
access to abundant skilled labour, and
availability of multi-modal transportation systems
and then the Action Plan will focus on:
growing the cluster with world renowned healthy and safe products
linking local food, farming and health by educating consumers
fostering innovation and enhancing competitiveness and sustainability
enabling the food and farming businesses with appropriate policies, and
cultivating new approaches to support food and farming
This might seem to be a daunting challenge. But keep in mind that Alice Waters once told me in a Globe and Mail interview that her world-famous “California Cuisine” was modeled on Toronto restaurateur Franco Prevedello's interpretation of “Ontario Cuisine” as presented at Vancouver’s Expo ‘86 Ontario Pavilion Restaurant. Yes, we can do this again – but let’s keep our own name on it this time!
The Ontario Market Investment Fund (OMIF) has been providing matching grants for urban enterprises to inform the public how they promote local agriculture. Unfortunately this is now fully subscribed; and the rumour is that it will not be renewed in the upcoming budget. If you would like to develop your own promotion idea, please take a look at my new David Cohlmeyer Consulting
website or call me at 705-458-1710
to learn ways I can help you make this happen.
Anita Stewart appointed to the Order of Canada
Toronto's Chef Jamie Kennedy, who received the Order of Canada last year, was one of my very first Cookstown Greens customers and the first chef to visit the farm. In 1988, Anita Stewart was the first member of the media to visit (and do some weeding) on our new farm. We have supported each other ever since. The news of her appointment brought nearly as much joy to me as it has to her.
Food is Anita’s way to bridge the urban-rural divide in our country. She continues to learn there is no single Canadian cuisine; it is a mix of regional and ethnic cuisines. As her dozen books so magnificently exemplify, no one knows all the nuances of Canadian food better than Anita. The Governor General’s citation summarizes: “For her contributions as a journalist, author and culinary activist and for her promotion of the food industry in Canada.”
To help Anita continue to bring Canadian cuisine to its rightful place on the world stage, consider purchasing one (or more) of her fine books
, participate in Food Day Canada
, and then follow her Blog
. Anita, we are very proud of all your good work.
On being a Guest Curator in Calgary
Last fall I was invited to be a Guest Curator for the Calgary Glenbow Museum
current exhibit of Edward Burtynsky's remarkable giant photographs. It was quite an honour to be selected as one of 30 Canadians who each reflected on one of his glorious images. I chose the Carrara Marble Quarries in Tuscany because of their relationship with food that goes all the way back to Roman times.
Carrara Marble Quarries by Edward Burtynsky.
Other guest curators included photographer Robert Bourdeau, actress Barbara Budd, former National Chief Phil Fontaine, ballet administrator Jeff Melanson, musician Danny Michel, Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury, astronaut Robert Thirsk, CBC host George Stromboulopoulos, and Dragons’ Den’s Brett Wilson.