Hon. George Smitherman joins Ontario farmers who say: "Get Lost!" in the Maze Craze.ca! - Visit Ontario farms and conquer more than 75 onsite mazes



    TORONTO, Sept. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of
Health and Long Term Care, George Smitherman, Ontario farmers, Saunders Farm's
"Green Queen" and local school children today officially launched Maze Craze
with a challenge to Ontarians to visit the 42 rural farms across Ontario with
onsite mazes! At Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall, visitors were
delighted by something they had never seen before in downtown Toronto - a
specially constructed maze made of 200 straw bales - just a hint of more than
75 mazes that thrill Ontarians at the participating farms across the province.
    At MazeCraze.ca, visitors are invited to enter for a chance to be "Farmer
for a Day" by collecting stamps before October 21, 2007 from four of the
42 participating Maze Craze farms.
    "Maze Craze is a great reason for families to visit our Ontario farms!"
said Hon. George Smitherman, Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and
Long-Term Care. "Exploring our many farms and especially those with mazes, is
clean, green healthy fun and I am excited to see a maze erected right here in
downtown Toronto."
    "Our mazes are a huge draw for people of all ages," said Mark Saunders,
owner and operator of Saunders Farm in Munster, ON near Ottawa. "At Saunders
Farm alone, we have 11 mazes made of cedar, spruce, wood, stone and corn.
Mazes across the province range in difficulty - from five minutes for young
children and novices to some of the most challenging that take up to two hours
for our adult navigators. It's a great way for all Ontarians to get outside,
learn about life and fun on Ontario farms and celebrate the rich history of
agriculture and agri-tourism."
    Maze Craze is designed to encourage families who would not have
considered visiting a farm to try it as a new family activity. More than a
third of families who visit agri-tourism farms end up going two to six times a
year!
    "Agri-tainment" or "agri-tourism" is a growing feature of modern farming
in Ontario. As local farms face increasingly stiff competition in a rapidly
globalizing marketplace, farmers are looking for new ways to connect directly
with the consumer. Supporting farm fresh markets and agri-tourism operations
is one of the keys to adding value and preserving agriculture in Ontario,
especially for smaller farming operations.
    Funding for the program was provided in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada through the Agricultural Adaptation Council's CanAdvance Program.

    The Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association (OFFMA) - a group familiar
to many as providers of the farmers' market at Nathan Phillips Square on
Wednesdays during the summer - was founded in 1973 as a not-for-profit,
educational, and promotional organization in response to an identified grower
need for quality operating standards in the roadside market industry. OFFMA's
general membership is made up of over 200 dedicated Ontario farmers with a
keen interest in promoting the direct farm sales industry (which includes
roadside marketing and pick-your-own operations), encouraging improvements and
maintaining integrity in the industry.

    
            Visit a participating farm near you! www.mazecraze.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Fiona Smith, Bluesky Strategy Group, (613)
241-3512 x224, Cell: (613) 889-2464, fiona@blueskystrategygroup.com; Susan
Smith, Bluesky Strategy Group, (613) 241-3512 x221, Cell: (613) 371-0624,
susan@blueskystrategygroup.com

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THE ONTARION FARM FRESH MARKETING ASSOCIATION

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