“Telling the story of agriculture and food production has never been more important,” writes Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) executive member Mark Reusser, in a press release this month about a new multimedia partnership by the OFA and Bell Media called “Fields to Forks.”
“With increasing misconceptions and concerns about agricultural practices, we all know the need to share the story of our industry,” writes Reusser. The new program “showcases positive stories about modern agriculture that produces safe, nutritious food, grows our economy as an innovative industry and cares for our environment,” he said.
The new initiative endeavours to show rural and urban audiences in southwestern Ontario what modern farming looks like and improve consumer perceptions about agriculture and the agri-food industry, from sponsors including the Hensall District Co-operative, Middlesex Federation of Agriculture, Western Fair District and the County of Middlesex Economic Development. It will provide sources and background for agricultural stories that will be featured on Bell Media TV, radio and online channels in May and June.
“OFA believes the Fields to Forks campaign is an opportunity to show consumers that today’s modern farms are innovative, dynamic and technically savvy,” writes Reussed. “The Fields to Forks campaign will provide consumers with interesting, informative and entertaining stories aimed at positively influencing the public perceptions of agriculture. We’ll also be able to track attitudes, awareness and knowledge of Ontario agriculture and modern farming practices through the campaign.”
There is a website set up, FieldsToForks.ca, however for now it only serves to forward interested parties to London.CTVNews.ca/fieldstoforks, which includes a series of categories and links to information relevant to the program. One heading, “Farmers’ Stories,” lets readers learn about modern farming from the perspective of Ontario farming families. “To local Ontario farmers, food isn’t just what we eat,” reads the site. “It’s what brings us together as families and communities.”
Some of the farm families profiled include the Hills, who run the Willowgrove Hill Pork farm northwest of Stratford, and the Good family, who operate Whitecrest Mushrooms east of London in Putnam.
Other headings on the site, include “SixbySixteen.me” (which aims “to get young people into the kitchen, with how-to videos, recipes and source guides”), “Virtual Farm Tours” (which offers a great deal of photos and information from different varieties of farms including egg farms, vegetable farms, chicken farms and ostrich farms), and “Farm Facts” (Did you know over 7 billion eggs are sold in Canada each year?).
Another heading invites visitors to the site to learn more about the program’s sponsors. This includes a short informative video about the Hensall District Co-operative, which states, “for decades, southwestern Ontario-based Hensall District Cooperative has been supplying high quality commercial grains and beans sourced from Ontario, Manitoba, Minnesota, North Dakota and Michigan to buyers worldwide, from Asia to Europe, Australia and beyond.”
For more information about “Fields to Forks,” contact Reusser at 519-591-4223 or OFA General Manager Neil Currie, at 519-821-8883.