Vineland initiates a "Local Food" producers partnership



    Safe, fresh, more nutritious, eco-friendly food program fosters stronger
    local economy

    VINELAND, ON, March 24 /CNW/ - Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
("Vineland") is pleased to announce the initiation of a "Local Food" project
that supports and links local food growers, producers and suppliers directly
with local food buyers to ensure that the public has improved access to high
quality, locally grown food - whether it be through local grocery stores,
restaurants or farmers' markets. The project will start with a Niagara Local
Food Pilot.
    In identifying the value of locally grown food, Vineland's Stakeholder
Advisory Committee established a sub-committee to initiate and facilitate the
project.
    "Locally based food production and distribution systems are important for
several reasons," said Jim Brandle, CEO of Vineland. "They provide the public
with access to fresher, more nutritious foods, promote local agriculture by
keeping food production close to home, support and create local jobs in
agriculture and food processing, and build stronger local economies and
communities And they minimize our 'carbon foodprint' through the reduction of
fossil-fuel used in the trade and transportation of food."
    The concept and the benefits of locally produced food are gaining in
popularity throughout the agriculture industry. Advancements in research,
innovation and technology present an increasing number of options to improve
the availability of locally produced foods.
    "The "Local Food" initiative will link producers directly with buyers to
accelerate advancement and ensure that Ontario consumers are provided with
easier, more frequent access to fresh, safe, nutritious, high quality, locally
produced foods," said Donald Ziraldo, Chair of Vineland Research and
Innovation Centre Board
    Joining Vineland to support the Niagara Local Food Pilot initiative are
the Vineland Growers Cooperative, the Canadian Federation of Independent
Grocers, Local Food Plus, ZeroFootprint, OnTrace Agri-food Traceability, Green
Rewards(TM), the Niagara Culinary Trail and the Regional Municipality of
Niagara.
    Fifteen local growers as well as St. Davids Hydroponics have already
committed to participating in the program by signing up for certification
under the Local Food Plus program. Vineland has committed to facilitating the
pilot project and has provided the funding to engage a coordinator responsible
for the administration of Local Food Plus grower certification.
    Niagara growers, food producers and buyers are encouraged to contact
Vineland (www.vinelandontario.ca) or Local Food Plus (www.localfoodplus.ca) to
participate in the Niagara Local Food Pilot program

    About Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

    Located in the Niagara Region, the Vineland Research and Innovation
Centre is a not-for-profit corporation. It is currently in the process of
significant renewal and revitalization as result of a Federal and Provincial
government, and industry led initiative in 2007 to create a world-class
research institution and international hub for horticulture and ornamentals
research, innovation and commercialization. Created in 1906 through a gift by
M.F. Rittenhouse, the Vineland Research Station has contributed to the
emergence of a competitive horticulture industry in one of Canada's most
unique geographic regions. It is accredited with the development and release
of over 150 new varieties of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants, as well
as numerous production techniques and post-harvest technologies.

    About Local Food Plus

    Local Food Plus ("LFP") is an award winning non-profit organization that
brings farmers and consumers to the table to share in the benefits of
environmentally and socially responsible food production. LFP opens new and
higher value markets for farmers and processors who meet LFP standards.
Contact: Mike Schreiner, 416-699-6070, ext. 223, Mike@localfoodplus.ca,
www.localfoodplus.ca

    About OnTrace Agri-food Traceability

    OnTrace is a not-for-profit corporation, created to lead food
traceability programs and initiatives in the province of Ontario. OnTrace's
goals are to deliver traceability solutions that will enable the agriculture
and agri-food industry in Ontario to become more innovative and competitive,
and; to strengthen the capacity of industry and government to manage and
respond to emergencies related to agriculture and food. Contact: Brian
Sterling, 519-766-9292, Fax 519-766-1313. For media kit and further
information, visit: www.ontraceagrifood.com





For further information:

For further information: Donald Ziraldo, Chair, Vineland Research and
Innovation Centre, (416) 520-3555, donald@ziraldo.ca, www.vinelandontario.ca

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Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

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