“Harvesting our local food potential though the collaboration of community and business”
Grandview, August 14, 2014 – The eight municipalities who are members of the Parkland Agricultural Resource Cooperative Ltd. (PARC) have been awarded funding from the Province of Manitoba’s Partner 4 Growth program and Catalyst Credit Union to identify and explore opportunities for growing and processing local food.
The ‘Parkland-Made’ initiative is anticipated to create economic opportunities and investment for the communities by encouraging and building capacity to produce, distribute and market the diversity of locally produced food. Community meetings to date indicate that farmers and processors need to be more sustainable by increasing local Manitoba sales and that a grass-roots community approach, such as “Parkland-Made’, will help to identify gaps, barriers and untapped opportunities.
Catalyst Credit Union CEO Ron Hedley is very supportive of the project. “The ‘Parkland-Made’ initiative aligns perfectly with the goals and vision of our credit union,” he said. “I hope — and expect — that our investment in this project will lead to new business opportunities and economic activity in our region, and maybe even provide the spark that makes the difference for a new enterprise or two. As a locally-owned financial co-operative, this is exactly what we should be doing. In fact, I think that’s why we exist.”
The study area will focus on the PARC member communities that are driving the project, but other sources of food production in neighbouring communities will be considered, as appropriate. It is anticipated that the future of the initiative will include the greater Parkland region as consumer interest in local food increases. “We need to work together as a region to remove barriers and make it easier for people to access a local food supply. We have a very diversified agricultural sector and we must find ways to process what we produce in order to create jobs and support our regional economy,” said Dennis Forbes, Chair of PARC and Reeve for the Rural Municipality of Dauphin.
Over the next 6 months, many stakeholders will be consulted in personal interviews and focus group meetings including; farmers, processors, producer associations, farmers markets, food establishments, grocery stores, umbrella organizations supporting local food initiatives, food vulnerable groups, youth and others. “Local initiatives, such as those being undertaken by PARC, demonstrate resilience and innovation that are typical components of the small scale, local food movement,” said Dr Wayne Lees, coordinator of the Small Scale Food Manitoba project that is currently conducting public consultations on behalf of a provincial working group to address the small scale food industry and direct farm marketing in Manitoba.
The business plan is expected to be completed by the end of February 2015 with the implementation plan to follow in April. Anyone interested in participating in the project can contact Marnie at (204) 546-2915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. As open conversation about local food is most important, participants identity will be kept confidential, unless otherwise declared.
PARC has been working towards developing specific potential for regional competitiveness and development of business and investment into the region and has recently completed the “Parkland Regional Growth Strategy Project”. The initiative has helped to gather information regarding major gaps in business and service delivery for the trading area. The proposed project is a significant need identified from the project.
Parkland Agricultural Resource Co-op Ltd. is a regional industry development group of eight member municipalities that work together on emerging business and industry development opportunities that attracts investment to the region. Member municipalities include RM of Hillsburg, RM and Town of Grandview, RM and Town of Gilbert Plains, RM and Village of Ethelbert and the RM of Dauphin.