Editorial: December 2014
By Marg Land
There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to spreading news and information about Ontario’s innovative and forward thinking agriculture producers. AgInnovation Ontario, a website aimed at raising awareness about innovative projects and opportunities in the province’s agriculture and agri-food industry, was launched recently.
A project of the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre (ATCC), based in Guelph, Ont., the goal of the website is “to tell the story of agricultural innovation in Ontario through a constantly growing online collection of information about agricultural innovation project and opportunities in Ontario.”
And, so far, the site has been off to a great start.
Earlier in the fall, I was surprised to find an article in my inbox highlighting the work researchers at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre have been doing exploring the production and marketing potential of non-traditional vegetables. These crops, popular with South Asian and Afro-Caribbean consumers, are currently in demand in the Toronto area, thanks to the city’s evolving demographics.
This isn’t a new story to Fruit & Vegetable Magazine, who have been following research in this area at VRIC for several years and helped support a white paper by University of Guelph students investigating the Canadian market for “ethnocultural” produce. But it was interesting and refreshing to see a different perspective on a constantly evolving issue.
Since seeing that article, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for others being highlighted by the website, which have included features on the commercialization of quinoa in the province, sea buckthorn – Ontario’s locally grown citrus – production, and breeding cold-hardy, disease-resistant Canadian roses.
“Agriculture has long been on the forefront of innovation, supporting many advances in areas like food, health, bioeconomy, life sciences and others,” said Jeff Schmalz, president of Soy 20/20, one of the founding members of the ATCC. “This site is about telling the story of that innovation and raising awareness to help support and advance the sector.”
Besides French and English articles, collaborators such as VRIC, the University of Guelph, Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation hope to populate the site with videos, photos and audio files produced by other farm organizations and industry stakeholders. They also will be searching out story ideas from commodity organizations, plus universities, government and industry partners. Anyone with story ideas is invited to contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s hoped project resources can also be used to search for new opportunities where organizations, such as the ATCC, can assist entrepreneurs with development or commercialization of an idea, so keep this is mind.
It’s encouraging to see continued support for the dreamers and innovators in Ontario’s agriculture industry. They need all the support and encouragement they can find. Now, we need to see these same articles picked up and highlighted by the mainstream media. Ontario’s agri-food and agriculture industry is too important and vibrant to keep quiet about. Sing loud and sing long.