November 3 - 4, 2021

Thank you for joining us for the annual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development and Planning
Forum, hosted virtually by The Regional Municipality of York and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

SPEAKERS     //    AGENDA    //     VIDEOS     //     SUBSCRIBE

Join Us

The 2021 Municipal Agriculture Economic Development & Planning Forum is being hosted virtually by The Regional Municipality of York and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) from November 3-4, 2021. This event will feature a number of industry speakers, expert panels, an overview of York Region’s agriculture and agri-food sector and much more.

This is a great opportunity for those with an interest in regional and local economic development and land use planning to learn, network and share experiences.

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York Region

Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector

This year’s theme is Innovation and Resiliency in the Agri-Food Sector, focused on agri-tech, entrepreneurship, exploring innovative ways of doing business and building a resilient agri-food sector in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In we’ve seen how York Region’s local agri-food businesses transformed and adapted to COVID-19. Local agri-food businesses demonstrated resiliency and took the challenges and turned them into opportunities.

Keynote Speakers

Click here to view a full listing of speakers.

Nikolas Badminton

Chief Futurist, Futurist.com

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist and Think Tank leader at Futurist.com, a Fellow of The RSA, media personality, and the futurist that works with the most impactful companies to create bigger visions, strengthen strategic planning, and anticipate risks. He has worked with the world’s most impactful companies, including NASA, Google, Microsoft, United Nations, United Way, Bank of Canada, Government of Canada and many more.

Crystal Mackay

CEO, Loft32

Crystal is recognized as a speaker, trainer and leader in communications, business skills and earning public trust in food and farming in Canada. She served as the founding CEO of Farm & Food Care, the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, and most recently her own company, Loft32. Crystal is a dynamic presenter and engaging trainer who has delivered over 1000 presentations around the globe.

Patti Thompson

Vice President, Sales & Marketing, King Cole Ducks

Patricia (Patti) Thompson is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing and King Cole Ducks. For over 65 years, King Cole Ducks has remained true to time-honoured farming practices that epitomize integrity in sustainable, responsible farming. Patti has won the BMO “Celebrating Women in Agriculture Award” at the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario and is valued for her contributions and knowledge in the agricultural sector.

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Event Agenda

Day 1: November 3, 2021

Welcome | 8:45 a.m.

General Welcome & Land Acknowledgment

Chair: Carolyn Puterbough, Carolyn Puterbough, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

Co-Chair: Meena Hassanali, Agriculture and Agri-Food Business Specialist, Economic Strategy, York Region

Minister’s Greeting
Hon. Lisa Thompson

York Region Greeting 
Chairman Wayne Emmerson, Regional Municipality of York

Agriculture and Agri-Food in York Region – Video

Keynote: Facing our Futures | 9:15 a.m.

Nikolas Badminton FRSA, Chief Futurist at Futurist.com

New ways of sustainable and innovative agricultural practices have never been needed more. By 2050, the United Nations has stated that we will need to grow 60% more food than today. To do that we need to look to new innovative practices, exponential technologies, and diverse ways of thinking about food production to help us achieve that.

Nikolas will take us from ‘what is’ to ‘what if…’ and help us imagine the potential for an incredible future of agriculture (or agri-food sector) by employing big data analytics, the Internet of Agricultural Things, artificial intelligence, communication platforms, transportation, agritech, genetics, cellular protein and other advancements.

Q&A
Moderator: Keith Currie, Vice-President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture

Panel: How to Accelerate and Incubate Agri-Food Businesses in Your Community | 10:15 a.m

The panelists will share their top tips on how to accelerate and incubate agri-food businesses from their experience of running programs within their own communities.

Moderator: Karen Dubeau, Executive Director at Innovation Hub Kingsbridge

  • Judy Chang, Program Advisor, York University, YSpace (York Region Food & Beverage Accelerator Program)
  • Colin Dobell, Executive Director, Ontario Water Centre (Clearwater Farms)
  • Craig Youdale, Dean, Niagara College (Canadian Food and Wine Institute)
  • Trissia Mellor, Manager Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre

Information Sharing: Leandro Guimaraes, Canada’s Trade Accelerator Program (TAP)

Break | 11:00 a.m.

Spotlight on York Region Agri-Food Businesses | 11:10 a.m.

Four businesses from York Region, will share their business history, growth, innovations and how they have adapted in the past year and a half.

Moderator: Sean Columbus, Economic Development Officer, Town of Georgina

  • Narek Nersisyan, Sales & Marketing, Holland Marsh Wineries
  • Ken Lamb, Member, Trillium Lamb
  • Michelle Sundborg, Founder, Little Red Bakeshop
  • Mark Josephs, President, Kisko Products

Q&A: Sean Columbus, Economic Development Officer, Town of Georgina, Moderator

Panel: The Agriculture Systems Approach in Action | 11:50 a.m.

Speakers will share tangible examples of how their communities are supporting the Agriculture Systems approach with programs, tools, policies and collaboration between their economic development and land use planning departments.

Moderator: Jocelyn Beatty, Rural Planner, OMAFRA

  • Aimee Artinian-Wong, Economic Development Coordinator, King Township
  • Kristen Harrison, Manager of Policy Planning, King Township
  • Kelly Maloney, Economic Development Advisor-Agriculture, City of Kawartha Lakes
  • Jonathon Derworiz, Planner, City of Kawartha Lakes

Lunch Break (on your own) | 12:30 p.m.

On-farm Diversification: Event Barns in the Golden Horseshoe | 1:00 p.m.

This session will explore event barns, a popular trend in Ontario. Event barns can host weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and much more. On one hand, event barns can provide an additional revenue stream and provide entrepreneurial opportunities for family farmers. On the other hand, event barns are complicated and expensive to establish in Ontario.

Moderator: Janet Horner, Executive Director, Golden Horseshoe Food & Farming Alliance

  • Pam Duesling, General Manager Development Services, County of Brant
  • Collin Williams, Cambium Farms
  • Brian Pye, Maple Meadows Farm

 

Adjournment | 2:00 p.m.

Day 2 November 4, 2021

Welcome | 8:45 a.m.

General Welcome & Land Acknowledgement

Chair: Carolyn Puterbough, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
Co-Chair: Meena Hassanali, Agriculture and Agri-Food Business Specialist, Economic Strategy, York Region

Greetings
Councillor Avia Eek, Chair York Region Agriculture and Agri-Food Advisory Committee

York Farm Fresh Video

Keynote: King Cole Ducks an Agri-Food Success Story | 9:00 a.m.

Patti Thompson, Vice President and Marketing, King Cole Ducks Ltd.

Q&A: Carolyn Puterbough, Moderator

Our Food Future: Creating a Regional Circular Economy in Guelph-Wellington | 9:30 a.m

Ashlee Cooper, Program Advisor, City of Guelph
Justine Dainard, Project Manager, County of Wellington, Smart Cities Office

Q&A
Meena Hassanali, Moderator

Food is a fundamental requirement of life on this planet. However, the basic structure of today’s linear “take-make-dispose” food system is unsustainable—economically, socially, and environmentally. Guelph-Wellington aims to address these issues by creating Canada’s first circular food economy, reimagining how we produce, distribute, sell, and consume food.

Spotlight on Agri-Tech - The Rise of Urban Farming | 10:00 a.m.

Moderator: Chris Dudley, Director of Entrepreneurship at Seneca College

  • Brandon Hebor, Founder, Boreal Greens
  • Brent Downey, Founder and CEO, Urban Stalk
  • Glen Smyth, CEO, Apple Flats Foods
  • Kevin Jakiela, Co-founder, Just Vertical

Break | 10:45 a.m.

Panel: Innovation & Resilience of the Agri-Food Sector in Response to COVID-19 | 11:00 a.m.

The participants on this panel are from across the agri-food value chain and will share how the pandemic impacted their businesses and/or organizations and their experiences navigating the response.

Introductions: Meena Hassanali, Agriculture and Agri-Food Business Development Specialist, York Region
Moderator: Brett Wills, President at GEM

  • Martin Williams, President, Above Foods
  • Janice Bartley, Founder. Foodpreneur
  • Jody Mott, Executive Director, Holland Marsh Growers Association
  • James Rilett, Vice-President, Restaurants Canada

Breakout Sessions | 11:45 a.m.

I) Supporting Urban Agriculture through Community Gardens
Learn how community garden partnerships strive to promote urban agriculture initiatives and programming. Speakers will provide grassroot examples of successes and challenges working with local municipalities.

Moderator: Ruth Rendon, City of Vaughan

  • Kate Greavette, York Region Food Network (YRFN)
  • Karina Shnaiderman, York Region Food Network, Youth Food Committee
  • Sonia Dhir, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
  • Julian Hasford, Ryerson University, Black Youth Farming Collective
  • Sheldon Caruana, Ryerson University, Black Youth Farming Collective

II) Digging Deeper Event Barns

This session will offer an opportunity to discuss event barns, a popular trend in Ontario. Event barns can host weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and much more. On one hand, event barns can provide an additional revenue stream and provide entrepreneurial opportunities for family farmers. On the other hand, event barns should only be permitted if they can meet all the current government requirements and all the criteria in the OMAFRA Guidelines on Permitted Uses in Ontario’s Prime Agricultural Areas including being secondary to a farm and an appropriate size and scale. Many proposals for event barns will not be able to meet these requirements or criteria today.

Moderator: Allison Brown, Durham Region and Drew Crinklaw, OMAFRA

  • Pam Duesling, General Manager Development Services, County of Brant

III) Increasing Specialty Crop Areas in Ontario
This session will discuss what is a specialty crop area and why is it important to protect that land. The areas in Ontario that have identified local specialty crop areas will also be shared.

Moderator: Jocelyn Beatty, OMAFRA
Technical Expert: Helma Geerts, OMAFRA

  • Eric Acs, Niagara Region

IV) Public Health & Agri-food Industry Collaboration in Response to COVID-19
Connecting public health and economic development became an important aspect of supporting the agri-food sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hear examples of what was done and what outcomes were achieved from industry-public health collaboration.

Moderator: Tamara Fernandes, Director, Agri-Food Labour Management Branch, Covid Agri-Food Secretariat, OMAFRA

  • Jody Mott, Executive Director, Holland Marsh Growers Association (HMGA)
  • Becky Hester, Manager, Health Protection, York Region Public Health (YRPH)
  • Brenda Armstrong, Program Manager, Healthy Environments, Environmental Health Departments, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

V) Agri-Food Workforce – Strategies to Attract, Train & Grow the Sector
Workforce is a key issue in the agri-food sector. This breakout will hear from speakers that will share on the ground tactics they have used to attract, train and grow the agri-food sector workforce.

Moderator: Nick Kinkel, OMAFRA
Technical Expert: Janice Janiec, Economic Development Policy Analyst, CCA-ON

  • Karissa Downey, Manager of Economic Development, County of Dufferin
  • Zach Gable, Senior Economic Development Officer, Brant County
  • Danielle Harris, Economic Development Officer, City of Kawartha Lakes

VI) Innovative Buy Local Farm Fresh Initiatives
Attracting consumer attention in this digital age can be challenging. The goal of this session is to explore innovative approaches to promoting “Buy Local” Farm Fresh from across Ontario. Speakers will share insight into their respective buy local program.

Moderator: Julie Poirier Mensinga, OMAFRA

  • Tammi Taylor, York Farm Fresh Association
  • James Franks, City of Temiskaming Shores
  • David Thompson, Buy Local Buy Algoma
  • Ashley Brockelbank, Perth County

Lunch Break (on your own) | 12:30 p.m.

Wrap Up Keynote: Building Bridges to Public Trust in Food and Farming | 1:00 p.m.

Crystal Mackay is a recognized leader in earning public trust in food and agriculture in Canada. She will share her insights on what it takes for individuals, companies, and municipalities to engage in and create better conversations about food and farming.

Crystal Mackay, Founder and CEO, Loft 32

Adjourn | 2:00 p.m.

Videos on York Region Agriculture and Agri-Food

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Thank you to our local municipal partners

Aurora Logo
East Gwillimbury
Town of Georgina
King Township Logo
City of Markham
Town of Newmarket
City of Richmond Hill
City of Vaughan
Town of Whitchurch Stouffville