Growing Eastern Ontario Organically

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by Deron Johnston

On Saturday, February 23, the Canadian Organic Growers (COG) launched a new initiative to support Eastern Ontario farmers to transition to farming organically. Stormont Dundas & Glengarry (SDG) MPP Jim McDonell’s representative, Marilyn McMahon, and Jacques Héroux, an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) volunteer, were at the 35th annual Eco Farm Days at the Ramada Inn, Cornwall, to congratulate the Canadian Organic Growers and hear more about how the $543,600 OTF Grow grant will create increased economic opportunities while bettering the environment.

Founded in 1975, COG (www.cog.ca) is Canada’s national organic farmer and consumer association, and is a registered educational charity. COG offers training and resources to raise awareness about organics and to assist farmers and gardeners in adopting sustainable, and commercially viable, organic production methods. They are engaged in policy work and industry development at the local, regional and national level, and offer a voice for organic farmers and consumers to governments on matters related to food and farming. COG’s mission is to lead local and national communities towards sustainable organic stewardship of land, food and fibre, while respecting nature, upholding social justice, and protecting natural resources.

“Bill 54: ‘Organic Products Act, 2018’ prohibits the marketing and labelling of products as ‘organic’, unless they have been certified as organic in accordance with the Act”, said MPP McDonell. “It protects and secures the industry’s branding, and thus allows them to grow and expand their businesses with confidence”.

The new initiative, Growing Eastern Ontario Organically (GEO-O), is a three-year pilot project to tackle the real and perceived obstacles of transitioning to organic farming. Building on the feedback from COG’s recently completed Organic Success program, GEO-O is an on-the-ground initiative to support farmers through mentorship, financial incentives, and on-site experiential learning.

“Organic farming is an important sector of Ontario’s Agri-Food industry,” adds MPP McDonell. “Today’s consumer expects quality produce and the certainty that their purchases meet the published Canadian Organic Food standards.”

“I want to congratulate Canadian Organic Growers on their launch of a new and improved Organic Success Training Program,” said Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Centre. “It’s a win-win initiative for farmers, and for our environment.”

This an important announcement, not only for Eastern Ontario farmers and organic food lovers, but also for local residents, as the Kemptville Campus could offer its facilities for the purposes of “supporting farmers through mentorship” and “on-site experimental learning”. Come and talk with the COG organization about this project (and any others), when they arrive in town for the Rural Summit on April 12 and 13, hosted at that same Kemptville Campus. Register at www.ruralsummit.ca.

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