The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) has been working to “actively engage the audience of young farmers in Ontario,” starting with the OFVGA Young Farmers’ Program, launched at its annual general meeting held this past January.
As part of the program, a group of young farmers attended the OFVGA annual meeting, with full sponsorship for their AGM registration fee and one night’s hotel accommodation. “The hope was to spur young farmers into discovering current emerging issues in the fruit and vegetable sector, give them access to informed and engaging discussion through AGM speakers, and facilitate networking with leaders in the fruit and vegetable community,” says OFVGA.
The six young Ontario farmers who attended the AGM were Nathan Streef, Danielle Arva, James Wiens, Dusty Zamecnik, Quinton Woods, and Bridget Visser.
Recently, the OFVGA asked the attendees for feedback on the value of the initial program. In part, the candidates who attended felt the opportunity was one that offered them an excellent platform for their burgeoning careers, and the opportunity to network with a variety of industry experts was considered invaluable to some.
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“The information that was provided throughout the whole meeting was great and it was nice viewing firsthand how choices were made and agreed upon in this business,” says Nathan Streef. “The part I enjoyed the most about the AGM was meeting all the people that make Canadian agriculture work.”
According to Bridget Visser, seeing the inner workings of an organization such as OFVGA gave participants perspective.
“Seeing the process underlines the importance of grower organizations to the industry,” Visser says. “Its ability to provide a unified voice, as opposed to many individual ones when dealing with issues impacting the sector, is a valuable one that needs to continue.”
“Some of the problems we face are shared across the industry, and being able to work together on solving them is a useful tool that will continue to push the industry forward into the future,” adds Quinton Woods.
Moving forward, OFVGA is happy to see that participants in the program took something away from the experience and did something with their experience.
“Our farm has taken on many different shapes over the past five, 10, 20, and 25 years. We had to adapt and so does and has the OFVGA,” says Dusty Zamecnik. “(Since attending the AGM) I have started an informative series profiling our operation. It has been gaining some major traction thus far and will continue in the future.”
The OFVGA will continue to work with young farmers and to provide opportunity to become engaged with the inner workings of the sector.
Did you know?
- The fruit and vegetable sector supports 30,000 farm-based, non-family jobs in Ontario, as well as a further 8,700 jobs specific to horticulture and specialty crops.
- Over 125 different fruit and vegetable crops are grown in Ontario with an estimated annual farm gate value of $1.6 billion (2013).