Agri-Food Innovators and Award Recipients in Peel, York and Toronto

Monday, December 1, 2014

The province is once again celebrating local innovators who are contributing to the success of Ontario’s agri-food sector.

Earlier in November, the regional recipients of the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence were celebrated and honoured at a ceremony in Toronto to recognize their contributions to the creation of new products, improvement on existing products, for creating new jobs and growing Ontario’s economy.

Congratulations to all of the award winners, including our regional award recipients for Peel Region, York Region and Toronto: Matt and Steve’s, Quality Cheeses Inc., Real Food for Real Kids, Toronto Distillery Co., and Fresh City Farms.

Fresh City Farms has taken six acres of land right in Toronto, and has turned it into an established farm that harvests fresh, local organic produce for 1,400 Toronto households, delivering directly to their consumers (or nearby pick-up points). Only four years after their inception, they see $1.2 million in annual sales, and employ more than a dozen individuals. A clear powerhouse in the city’s urban ag movement, Fresh City demonstrates that urban farming can be done (very successfully), and that there is, indeed, demand for it.

Their focus on local sees every dollar earned creating $2.84 in economic spinoffs.

In the documentary Food Fighters, Ran Goel, co-founder of Fresh City Farms, explains: “I can see no reason that city farming should not happen at a wider scale.”

Be sure to read more about the other agri-food innovators honoured in Toronto – their innovative drive and determination keeps our industry moving forward:

Mississauga’s Matt and Steve have opened up a new flourishing market with their signature pickled “Extreme Bean”; Quality Cheeses in Vaughan is staying true to their name, successfully raising water buffalo right here in Ontario for the making of authentic mozzarella; Real Food for Real Kids serves thousands of healthy, made-from-scratch meals and snacks daily to daycares, school and camps, with a concentrated focus on local ingredients and healthy, unprocessed food (check out this recent profile on RFRK, where the Ontario Edible Education Network spoke with founder Lulu Cohen-Farnell); and from “grain to glass”, Toronto Distillery buys its grains from Ontario organic farmers (with each batch made from a single crop from a single farm), and ferments and distills them right in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood.

From fresh, unique new products, to getting healthy, real food to our kids, and local, sustainably-produced food delivered across one of our densest cities, these innovators are certainly leading the agri-food way.