photo from left:  Bob Sanderson, Mayor of Municipality of Port Hope, Kathy Macpherson, Greenbelt Foundation, Dan Borowec, Director of Economic Development, County of Northumberland, Lou Rinaldi, MPP Northumberland-Quinte West, Mark Walas, Warden of County of Northumberland, Marc Coombs, Mayor of Cramahe Township

Lou Rinaldi, MPP for Northumberland—Quinte West announced Friday morning in the boardroom of the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre that the Ontario government is going to help fund a piece of equipment for OAFVC’s operations.

Kathy Macpherson, Greenbelt Foundation

The $32,400 grant via the government’s Local Food Investment Fund program will allow the OAFVC to purchase a machine that will fill bottles simultaneously. Northumberland County will contribute towards the purchase as well.

The machine increases productivity and gives food entrepreneurs the necessary automation equipment to fill containers for fruit drinks, edible oils and other bottled product markets.

 The OAFVC funding is one of nineteen local food projects across the province that will receive nearly $500,000 in new investments via the Local Food Investment Fund.

Oversight comes from the Greenbelt Fund. It aims to invest in innovative solutions that focus on getting more Ontario food into Ontario stomachs.

“Northumberland County is proud to be investing in new equipment for the Ontario Agri-food Venture Centre that will allow more entrepreneurs and local food innovators to develop and sell their local food products in the County and across Ontario. We appreciate the support for our project from the Greenbelt Fund and Government of Ontario,” said Mark Walas, Northumberland County Warden.

Lou went a little off-script during his opening remarks in an interesting way: “I think in the not-too-distant future … with the climate-change activities like California with no water… I think North America is going to come knocking on Ontario’s door, Canada’s doors. I think we need to be ready.”

He riffed a bit on the early challenges facing the government and his involvement in establishing the Greenbelt, a large designated area that protects agricultural, forests and wetlands. This led him to segue into the support the Greenbelt fund provides for local-source food production in the province.

The OAFVC is one of the very few non-profit facilities in Ontario that assist small-scale entrepreneurs and farmers to produce food products for sale in conformity with industry-standard health regulations. The majority of its clients are based in Northumberland. Sauces and jams comprise most of the products produced at the centre.

Mayor Marc Coombs said that because of the OAFVC, “We just have so many people coming into the area that never would have gotten off the 401. They would have just continued driving … we are getting so much interest in local food.”