Farm & Food Care Ontario's 2022 Year In Review with CFFO
January 19, 2023 | Amber Anderson, FFCO Communications Manager
Supported by members like the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO), Farm & Food Care Ontario (FFCO) brought together farmers, food producers, agribusinesses, and their urban and suburban neighbours in ways that were both educational and entertaining in 2022. FFCO especially appreciates the continued support of CFFO’s continued Gold-level membership as members are foundational to FFCO’s successes, and allow us to continue working to build public trust in Ontario agriculture. CFFO board member Frank Hoftyzer serves as a Co-Chair of FFCO’s Member Forum and as an ex officio member of the board.
2022 was a monumental year for FFCO and our partners as the organization celebrated the 10th anniversary of FFCO’s founding and made its return to in-person events in a significant way. After two years of relying on digital and altered events, 2022 allowed a return to more typical public interaction.
Breakfast from the Farm
Partnering with the Paris, Grand River, and Milton Agriculture Societies, three walk-through Breakfast from the Farm events were held on fairgrounds, where visitors had a chance to see farm animals and equipment, and talk to farmers and ask questions about where their food comes from. Each event had good weather and strong attendance from local communities. In each case, visitors enjoyed breakfast and left with bags packed with pancake mix, maple syrup, and valuable information about agriculture in Ontario.
2022 marked FFCO’s return to on-farm tours. The six tours included a tour of horticultural operations with a migrant-labour focus for Toronto-based food-influencers, to a grains-focused tour for dietitians, to four tours for culinary students from colleges across the province. Participants were surveyed on their knowledge about and perception of Ontario agriculture before and after each tour. When asked about their impression of Ontario agriculture before their tours, 68% responded good or excellent, while the post-tour survey had 94% responding their impression of agriculture was good or excellent. Survey results also showed that participants went from 62% stating they think the food system in Canada is going the right direction to 82% agreeing that it is.
Digital outreach is a strong component of FFCO’s work.
Faces Behind Food continues to highlight the diversity of people and career opportunities within the Canadian agri-food system on Facebook and Instagram. Profiles were posted twice per week, with 56,000+ likes, shares, and comments across the accounts. In 2022, the stories and photos of 11 CFFO members were featured in the project including dairy, alpaca, sheep, flower, and microgreen producers.
FarmFood360.ca now hosts 25 Virtual Reality farm tours, with the addition of three new tours in the fall of 2022. The new tours, featuring white beans going from field through processing, potatoes going from field to potato chip, and behind the scenes at a broiler-breeder farm and a broiler hatchery, offer new glimpses of agriculture behind the scenes, which Canadians can access from the comfort of their own homes.
The Real Dirt on Farming 5th edition was published in 2020, with both paper and digital editions. In 2022, FFCO started using paid search ads to amplify the reach of the website. For example, when looking for information on animal care or environmental sustainability, visitors were directed to ads promoting www.RealDirtonFarming.ca, to access the information they are looking for.
FFCO and AgScape continued a successful partnership in 2022, offering 12 livestreamed field trips reaching an audience of 72,944. These field trips gave viewers, including students and teachers, the chance to connect with farmers in real-time. FFCO and AgScape will continue to offer these tours throughout 2023 and are looking for farmers interested in hosting them.
Training and Workshops
FFCO continues to offer media and Speak Up training and commodity-specific updates, with 62 sessions taking place in 2022. Other virtual training sessions provided advice on how to protect farm properties from unwanted visitors.
In 2021, FFCO expanded its courses to offer virtual training for first responders being called to livestock transportation emergencies including truck rollovers. In 2022, 21 sessions were hosted for 665 first responders across Ontario. With financial support from many partners helping make this possible, the project has had great success.
The course covers factors that are important to the decision-making processes for accidents involving livestock trailers, including trailer design and the implications for extrication points, animal behavior, laws and regulations, euthanasia protocols, and how to develop response teams.
Additionally, FFCO worked on environmental stewardship in the areas of manure stewardship and winter manure spreading; soil health and strip tillage for field crops and vegetable production. A new manure stewardship video series was produced in 2022 to highlight best practices and new technology in manure storage and application systems to improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas production.
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Pictured above: Haldimand-Norfolk Christian Farmers Association President & Former CFFO Board of Directors Vice President Richard Blyleven (right) sang at FFCO's Gala.