Value-added activities, such as preserving and canning raw produce, enhance farm viability.
On February 27, 2014, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation in collaboration with the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance hosted a workshop on Value-Added Agricultural Policies. Value-added activities such as secondary processing, agri-tourism, and related farm sales are increasingly recognized as a diversification strategy that can enhance farm viability.
The purpose of this workshop was to showcase the enabling policies and zoning by-laws of selected municipalities as well as share the experience of farmers in order to enable municipal planners and economic development staff to create and implement more effective, value-added land use policies and implementation processes.
A presentation was also made by staff from the Ontario Ministry of Food on the revised value-added policies in the new Provincial Policy Statement (PPS 2014), which are generally less restrictive and more supportive than what was in the previous PPS 2005. The PPS (issued under the Planning Act) is the statement of the Province's policies concerning land use planning. The PPS provides policy direction for the entire province on matters of provincial interest in land use planning and development.
After the presentations, breakout sessions were facilitated to discuss lessons learned, take-away points, and share experiences amongst the participants. Participants found the workshop to be informative and insightful and a great opportunity to connect with others working on similar challenges in their respective municipalities. It was also immensely useful for municipal staff to hear real-life experiences directly from farmers so that they could better support value-added initiatives while remaining true to the principles of municipal and provincial plans.
Currently, we are compiling the great feedback and recommendations from the participants to keep the conversation going on how municipalities can best implement more effective value-added land use policies to enhance farm viability.
For more information, including materials from the workshop, please visit the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance website.
-- Research and Policy Analyst