New leadership, new vision, new partners for FVGO
January 23, 2009 By Fresh Vegetable Growers of Ontario
January 23, 2009, Woodstock, Ont. – The time has come for agricultural
organizations to develop new, unique partnerships that work in favour
of the farmer. That was the message from Jeff Wilson, who was elected chair of the
Fresh Vegetable Growers’ Association (FVGO) at its recent annual
January 23, 2009, Woodstock, Ont. – The time has come for agricultural organizations to develop new, unique partnerships that work in favour of the farmer.
That was the message from Jeff Wilson, who was elected chair of the Fresh Vegetable Growers’ Association (FVGO) at its recent annual general meeting. Wilson is a father of one who farms with his wife, Sharon, outside of Orton, Ont. He has served as chair of a number of agricultural organizations, including AGCare, the Ontario Asparagus Growers, and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.
As part of the movement toward partnership building, the FVGO is considering a partnership with the Canadian Diabetes Association, an organization trying desperately to stem the rampant, accelerated growth of the disease amongst Canadians.
“They approached our organization about working on projects that look at eating properly in today’s society,” said Wilson. “That includes following the recommended daily portions of both vegetables and fruits along with looking at the advantages of Ontario’s agriculture system rather than condemning our best management practices like some other organizations have been want to do.”
He added the resources being tied up to fight organizations that should be partnering with agriculture with commonality in mind is taxing the intellectual and financial capacity of all organizations.
“The Canadian Diabetes Association is an organization that likes the work being done through the Verified Health Quality program that had its start with the FVGO. We, as farmers who grow healthy and safe food, need to find partners who will help convey that message to a consumer audience that is craving information about eating properly – and that is what we are involved in.”
VHQ had its formation from the mindset of Dr. Gord Surgeoner, an Order of Ontario recipient and a recognized hands-on researcher who has brought the science of healthy eating to today’s consumer. Dr. Surgeoner will be the lead on the partnership with the Canadian Diabetes Association and FVGO. VHQ has a website that highlights the health benefits from more than 50 different fruit and vegetables grown in Ontario or brought in from around the world.
The FVGO is also taking direction from its grassroots basis, with the intention of following what its membership wants, including questioning why input costs have continued to accelerate at a time of economic upheaval, depressed pricing, and price disparity between competing jurisdictions.
“We have some serious issues in the agricultural industry right now and it requires our organizations to be more responsive to the needs of those they are supposed to be providing a service for – today’s farming community,” said Wilson.
“We will be an organization that is responsive to the needs of our members because that is what is required from agricultural organizations today.”
FVGO has struggled to find its proper footing in recent years, added Wilson, as it strives toward balancing the needs of its membership and finding a proper way to fund its organization.
“We have invested heavily in research for our farmers, but finding new methodology, new techniques, and even new varieties will not pay our farmers right now, when the need is so urgent,” Wilson said. “Our provincial government has stated it believes in local food, local farmers, and local production – and we want to capitalize on that for our membership. But in order to do so, we need a basic foundation of sustainable funding so that our direction is positively focused on getting results for our members – something we need to do now rather than waiting for things to worsen before action is taken.”
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