News & Events

Increasing Local Economic Opportunity through Farm Business Planning

Peterborough – On Saturday, local MPP Jeff Leal met with representatives from Farms at Work in Peterborough to hear how the organization has used a $40,200 Seed grant that it received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in late 2015. In its efforts to support community economic development, it was announced that, Farms at Work has developed and piloted a successful training Program to help farm entrepreneurs be more successful when launching new enterprises. Farms at Work, along with local CPA Bryan Smith of Allied Associates LLP Chartered Professional Accountants, worked with five farms over six sessions during the pilot from December to the final session on February 18th.
Agriculture is the largest source of self-employment in rural and small-town Canada and a key driver of regional economic development. Unemployment rates are often higher in these areas, and new farm enterprises can provide sustainable livelihoods, jobs and other benefits to both the farmers and the rural communities in which they live.

“I am pleased that our government partnered with Farms at Work to help support new farmers prepare business plans to build and become successful entrepreneurs. With the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Farms at Work was able to impact the lives of many in our community through this project.” - Jeff Leal, MPP

During the Farm Business Planning Program, participants wrote their own plans and conducted their own research. They were guided and supported throughout the process by a series of informative workshops, custom-developed spreadsheets and one-on-one support by a professional farm accountant.

Bryan Smith, a Chartered Professional Accountant who has spent over 20 years working with farmers, agrees that new farm businesses can develop the skills to build and revise a financial business plan from start to finish, with support. He believes this will give them the tools to understand and manage their businesses better in the future, increasing their chances of success.

“We know that starting a successful farm business depends on knowing not only how to produce a product, but also knowing in advance whether the numbers work,” said Pat Learmonth, Director of Farms at Work. “This Program can help people to avoid costly mistakes, and go on to contribute successfully to the local economy.”

The program will be offered again starting in late 2017. Anyone interested can call Farms at Work at 705-743-7671, or visit the Farms at Work website at www.farmsatwork.ca. Farms at Work promotes healthy and active farmland in east central Ontario. We seek ways to support viable farm businesses and ensure that farmland is actively used for the production of food, fuel and fibre, while at the same time promoting environmental integrity. Farms at Work is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform.

An agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities. www.otf.ca

For more information, please contact:
Pat Learmonth, Director; Farms at Work; 705-743-7671 info@farmsatwork.ca

Community–Based Egg Grading Report Released

Peterborough - Farms at Work, through a $29,100 Seed grant made in late 2015 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, has produced a report on the feasibility of building community egg-grading facilities as a way to support the local farming community and provide more opportunities for the community to access local food within east central Ontario.

“Through consultations as part of our recent Red Tape Challenge for the food processing sector, we heard from small producers and processors on barriers they are facing to get their product to market. I’m pleased that our government, through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, partnered with Farms at Work to address one of those challenges by funding this important feasibility study on egg grading to support small egg producers. The ability to grade eggs would enable small farms to legally sell their eggs in places like our local farmers’ markets, bringing more local food to the plates of consumers in Peterborough.” - Jeff Leal, MPP

Agriculture is a major opportunity for community economic development and the largest source of self-employment in the region. Yet, many farmers struggle to achieve long term financial security, and the number of farm businesses in the province has been declining for many years. Egg production offers an important opportunity to expand options for stable and sustainable livelihoods, but the lack of accessible community-based egg grading facilities creates a barrier for small and medium scale farmers.

Currently, ungraded eggs can only be sold at the farm gate on a farmer’s property, while graded eggs can be sold at farmers’ markets, restaurants and stores, making them much more accessible to consumers. This study explored the feasibility of developing community-based facilities which would allow farmers expand the market for their locally-produced eggs.

The research showed that offering egg grading services would be financially feasible as long as there were enough local eggs to grade within a reasonable distance from the facility. The farmers consulted via survey, and focus group, were anxious to include eggs as a financially profitable part of their business and have their eggs graded, so they could legally sell them off the farm, especially at farmers markets. However, they also described the challenges they face with the regulatory environment. Nearly all diversified farms are limited to keeping only 100 hens for eggs, restricting both revenues and profitability. The cost of egg grading adds additional cost to an already marginal part of the business.

“This grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation made it possible for us to assess the feasibility of egg grading for small to medium diversified farms in the community, but also pointed out the financial challenges of egg production on those farms,” said Pat Learmonth, Director of Farms at Work. “This is a first step to building better supports that enable people to connect with agriculture and their sources of food”.

Results will be disseminated widely to stimulate further discussion about how to strengthen local economies, provide more support to small egg farmers, and increase consumption of locally-produced eggs at venues such as farmers’ markets, local stores and restaurants. The Report is available online at farmsatwork.ca/library

Farms at Work promotes healthy and active farmland in east central Ontario. We seek ways to support viable farm businesses and ensure that farmland is actively used for the production of food, fuel and fibre, while at the same time promoting environmental integrity. Farms at Work is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform. www.farmsatwork.ca

An agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities. www.otf.ca

The 2016 Pollinator Health Action Plan is Here!

Ontario's Pollinator Health Action Plan was release December 15th, 2016!  The plan shows government and stakeholders'  work towards the improvement of pollinator health in Ontario. Farms at Work is even mentioned on page 23, where our work with native pollinators is highlighted!
To learn more and to read the plan visit: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/action_plan.htm

We need your help!

Farms at Work had been chosen for a crowdfund campaign by Small Change Fund. We are launching our campaign "Checking out Farm Bugs" to try and raise money to buy a microscope to support on farm research in our region. The microscope will also be available to the farming community. Check out the campaign here https://smallchangefund.org/project/7rgbnbuxDuiJNeTey
Tax receipts are available for all donations. Please donate and share to help us reach our goal!

New Farm Business Planning Program Launch!

Saturday was the launch of our Farm Business Planning Program! We had a great day focusing on Production Planning with Judy Coward (OMAFRA) and Bryan Smith (Allied and Associates) helping participants out. We are looking forward to the next day where potential funders will come out and tell participants about different programs to fund their farm business.