The North Grenville Times recently conducted a survey intended to seek input from residents on the types of topics that they would like to see discussed at the upcoming Local Agri-food Expo that is scheduled to happen on Saturday, April 7. The Expo is being organized to encourage people in the region to start an agri-food business of their own, or expand their existing small scale agri-food business. Agriculture and local food represent significant potential opportunities for economic growth in our area and the organizers want to encourage everyone to get involved.
The first question asked about various formats for the Expo. The results were: Workshops: 31.4%; Moderated discussion panels: 22.09%; Keynote speakers: 33.7%; Breakout sessions (small group discussions): 24.4%; Watching a video as part of a large audience: 7%; and A mix of the above formats: 54.7%. In the comments section, most of the comments were based around ways to (and the importance of) engage people to get them interested and keep them interested.
When asked, “What topics would you like to know more about or like to see discussed at this event?”, the results were: How to start a home-based agricultural or local food business: 43%; Which funding options are available for starting or expanding an agricultural or local food business: 58%; Which health regulations do I need to know about for starting an agricultural or local food business?: 46.5%; Where can I get help for creating a marketing plan, business plan or feasibility study?: 36%; The same percentage chose How can working with a farmers’ market help to provide a secondary income, and “How to tell which soil type I have and which plants grow best in that soil type.
Other options were: How do I get started in raising livestock (chickens, beef, pork etc.)?: 15%; How can I organize my garden to maximize my yield of the space?: 37%; How can I get access to space to grow food if I can’t afford to buy a piece of property?: 14%; What are the latest small scale farming methods that I could use to grow food?: 41%; What are the municipal zoning options available to allow me to start or expand an agricultural or local food business?: 35%; How to start a local co-operative to provide a service to the agricultural community: 23%; and What is involved in setting up an agricultural or local food social enterprise and what are the benefits and differences compared to a regular business model?: 28%.
In the comments section, some alternate topics mentioned were “permaculture”, “engaging youth”, “creating edible gardens for schools and other institutions” and “connecting local food networks and finding ways to collaborate on different community projects and initiatives.”
When asked: how much would you be willing to pay for a full day event like this (bring your own lunch)?, it was clear that people understood the value of an event like this, as most respondents chose the highest price, $25.
The other questions provided options for post-Expo dinner, with or without wine. Naturally, people preferred the cheapest option in each case.
Thank you to everyone that took part in the survey, it will be very helpful for the event organizing committee so that they can have the type of information and discussion focused on what you want to learn about. There will be information released soon giving the details on the event and the committee hopes that everyone will come to the event and be inspired to start or expand an agricultural or local food business.