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Timiskaming District

July 28th- August 2nd, 2017 

Local Food Tour of Timiskaming District

Wayne, Sara and Katherine met with various local food stakeholders in the Timiskaming District from July 28th to August 2nd.  
If you are involved in local food in this region, please contact us as we are taking a comprehensive networked approach to this research and would highly value your input.  
Our visit to Timiskaming District coincided perfectly with the opening of the new Mill Market in Cobalt, which allowed us to tour the market, speak with farmers and walk through Cobalt's new community garden. The development of these new initiatives in the town of Cobalt is a promising sign that the importance of local food in rural community development is being realized.
We were fortunate that Stephanie Vanthof from NOFIA (Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance) was available and willing to provide a tour of Timiskaming District. Our first stop early Saturday morning was to the bustling Riverside Market, where a large variety of produce, value-added products and locally crafted wares could be purchased. Luckily for us we made sure to have a light breakfast as we then visited the Thornloe Cheese Factory and snacked on delicious cheese curds.  Following this, we then continued north, past large swaths of land planted in vibrant canola and peas to the Charlton Farmers Market. This market had a variety of produce and goods available from the local Anabaptist community and smaller producers in the area. 
After some engaging conversations with local producers at the farmers' markets, we then explored the diversity of activities happening in Timiskaming District. We passed by the impressive bison herd of Bison du Nord in Earlton, followed by a viewing of areas where land clearing was in various stages of development, including farmland that was currently undergoing tile drainage for the purpose of expanding the agricultural capacity of the region.  Our day ended with a lovely lunch at a newly opened local food restaurant in Haileybury, Cafe Meteor Bistro.  
This trip included consultation with provincial staff, such as Barry Potter of OMAFRA and Anne Marie Leroy of MNDM, which provided us with additional context to the expanding local food movement in the north.  The following morning Wayne and Katherine had the opportunity to tour the New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station (NLARS). It was fascinating to observe the diverse work that is occurring in the SPUD, agronomy and horticultural units, as well as the interesting research that is occurring with the beef herd onsite. 
We were fortunate to then have Councillor Robert Brown of Black River-Matheson in the Cochrane District take us on a tour of his riding where the local Anabaptist community has significantly increased the availability of local food. We were able to visit a roadside produce stand and were invited into the home of one of the Anabaptist families where we discussed the challenges and opportunities for producers in the north. While touring this area we also observed current land clearing and tile drainage activities occurring. 
We concluded our tour of Timiskaming by meeting with Stepanie Lamothe where we discussed the availability of local food in Timiskaming Shores and the role of First Nations in local food. We then had an engaging conversation with Bob Norris of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), who provided insight into the increasing local food activities in Timiskaming District and northern Ontario in general.  
We would like to thank all of Timiskaming's local food stakeholders who took the time to chat with us about their thoughts and experiences with the expanding local food movement in the Timiskaming district. We highly value your input and will be in touch regarding the next steps of this research project. 

Source: Howes, K. (2018). 

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