Sara and Katherine visited the southern stretch of Algoma District from July 5th to 13th visiting farmers' markets and interviewing various local food stakeholders.
If you are involved in local food in Algoma District, please contact us as we are taking a comprehensive networked approach to this research and would highly value your input.
Source: Howes, K. (2018).
Local Food Tour of Algoma District
It was a whirlwind week of touring the southern portion of Algoma District where we spoke with various local food stakeholders ranging from producers to distributors and restaurant owners as well as municipal and OMAFRA staff. Based on our experience, it is clear that the local food movement in Algoma is alive and well and local support for the expansion of agriculture in Algoma is growing.
We began our week with a farm tour of Valleyfield Farm with Melanie Lemieux. Her passion for regenerative agriculture and providing local food to her community was infectious. From our conversation with Melanie, we proceeded to explore the 'local 638' route which is an informal network of farmers along Highway 638 from Echo Bay to Bruce Mines. We then ventured north to Goulais River and chatted with Chris Robertson of Fiddlehead Farm, an established strawberry "u-pick" operation as well as a maple syrup producer.
We were fortunate to sit down with Dave Trivers from OMAFRA to discuss Algoma's growing local food movement and diversified agricultural activities. In it's second year of operation, the Algoma Produce Auction was next on our itinerary. The extensive amount and diversity of local produce available for auction so early in the season was surprising. It was also encouraging to see the growth of the auction after just one year in operation. Following the auction we decided to explore Johnson Township and the Anabaptist produce stands that now line many of it's roads. Researchers Sara and James visited Johnson Township in 2016 and have worked closely with this Anabaptist community. Their finalized report can be viewed here.
Monday morning began by meeting with the Marketing & Communications Manager of Quattro Hotel & Conference Centre (Quattro Farms), Tricia Lesnick. She described the innovative ways in which Quattro is providing local food to their customers and their vision for the future of local food in Sault Ste Marie. On Monday afternoon, while having lunch at The Breakfast Pig, owner Angela Caputo sat down with us and shared her philosophy on local food and how it has manifested itself into her business.
We were also fortunate to meet with David Thompson of RAIN (Rural Agri-Innovation Network) who provided access to several Algoma farms where RAIN staff are working closely with area farmers in soil and crop experiments. Through this experience we learned first hand some of the challenges and opportunities that Algoma producers are facing. We then sat down with Denise and Rob Martel of Meadowview Alpaca Farm who shared their story of entering the realm of alpaca farming and the development of their alpaca farming network, followed by a tour of their farm, fiber processing workspace and retail shop.
We rounded out our local food tour of Algoma by speaking with municipal staff to gain insight into how municipalities in Algoma District are addressing the challenges and opportunities that the expansion of agriculture and the local food movement bring.
We would like to thank all of Algoma's local food stakeholders who took the time to chat with us about their thoughts of and experiences with the expanding local food movement in Algoma district. We highly value your input and will be in touch regarding the next steps of this research project.