Celebrate Ontario’s first Local Food Week

I heart local banner logoFarm & Food Care is leading efforts on behalf of Ontario farmers to encourage Ontarians to support local food – and they’re turning online to reach out to consumers.

June 2 – 8 marks the first-ever Local Food Week in Ontario, which was part of the Local Food Act the provincial government passed last year.

The activities being planned for this week, including a new website, special hashtag and Twitter party, are meant to be the start of an ongoing celebration and appreciation of local food, says a Farm & Food Care spokeswoman.

“It’s about starting a celebration that continues year round and this is the kick-off,” says Kelly Daynard, the organization’s Communications Manager. “We hope people will continue to use the hashtag right into fall when we mark Ontario Agriculture Week and that we can carry that momentum forward into a great second Local Food Week next year as well.”

Farm & Food Care has been working with Foodland Ontario and about 30 agricultural commodities, farm markets and farm fresh organizations to develop centralized Local Food Week activities that will complement what various groups are already doing on their own.

A new website, www.loveontfood.ca, has been launched that includes a logo library, food and farming links, and a calendar where users can submit local food events being held anywhere in Ontario.

A series of new Local Food Week-themed logos are available for use on websites and social media platforms, and social media users are being encouraged to use the #loveONTfood hashtag in their online activities.

An initiative new to Farm & Food Care will be a Twitter party, being hosted online June 3 from 8 to 9 pm. Farmers and other food and farming experts will be online during that time and following the #loveONTfood conversation with consumers and anyone else who may have questions about food and farming.

Click here to to sign up as a participant.

“The young farmers from the Dinner Starts Here team will be participating but we’re encouraging others in agriculture to participate in the Twitter party as well,” says Daynard. “Twitter parties are fast and furious and can lead to great conversations that get started that continue long afterwards. It’s about building connections between farmers and their consumers – both need each other.”

Other highlights of Farm & Food Care’s Local Food Week celebrations include a sold out media tour with Toronto area food writers and bloggers, recipe developers and chefs, and a local food-themed Gastropost challenge with the National Post.

Gastropost offers foodies a new “mission” focused on food to complete each week and they must post the results of their mission onto Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or the Gastropost website.

The best ones are printed weekly in the National Post.

“Anything that increases the conversation about food in this province is a good thing. We are already seeing a lot of chatter online using the hashtag and people talking about buying and preparing local food,” says Daynard. “It’s about building that relationship between food and farming; a heightened appreciation for the many wonderful products available in this province is a win for farmers and consumers.”

Six tips for celebrating local food:

  • Host your own local food celebration feast or barbecue with friends and family, each menu item has a story to be shared;
  • Join the #loveONTfood Twitter party with farmers and foodies celebrating all things food and farming in Ontario June 3 at 8pm ET;
  • Share your love of local food on social media using the #loveONTfood hashtag;
  • Support your local farmers by choosing Ontario products all year long.
  • Tour a farm virtually or find out more about how your food is produced here at home by visiting www.farmfoodcare.org
  • Visit www.loveontfood.ca for a full list of great resources on Ontario food and farming and more ideas on how to join in on the Local Food celebrations.

Note: this article was first published in the Ontario Farmer, May 27 2014 edition.

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