Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor, has announced that the Government of Canada (through FedNor) is investing a total of $177,416 for two projects that will help Northwestern Ontario’s agri-food sector, grow and create more jobs.
“Canadians need a safe and reliable food supply, especially in more rural or remote communities. These important investments will help farmers in Northern Ontario to scale up, improve productivity, and increase yields. It’s also a concrete support for good-paying jobs and middle-class families in the region.” said Minister Hadju
As part of this investment, AgriTech North is receiving $100,000 to purchase and install an Enersion solar tri-generation system. This military-tested system will generate clean energy for heating and cooling at the company’s 4,400-square-foot indoor farm in Dryden.
AgriTech North will be the first to adopt a solar tri-generation system for use in an agriculture setting. Once fully operational, this cutting-edge technology will help the company reduce energy consumption, lower production costs and expand its year-round harvest to include fruit bearing plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
“We are thrilled FedNor recognizes the economic and environmental benefits this project will deliver in the form of jobs, clean growth, and food security for Northwestern Ontario and beyond. AgriTech North is first out of the gate to test a solar tri-generation system in a year-round agriculture setting and we’re excited about its potential. This state-of-the-art technology combined with our thermal management invention will lead to lower energy and production costs for indoor farms and allows us to expand our harvest to include fruit-bearing plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, year-round.” explained AgriTech North CEO Benjamin Feagin Jr.
The remaining $77,416 will allow Local Food and Farm Co-Operative, in partnership with the Northern Ontario Food Distribution Network, to support farmers and establish a food hub in Dryden.
The initiative includes hiring three value-chain coordinators to help producers overcome challenges related to marketing, storage, packaging, logistics, and distribution.
The project also includes developing an action plan focused on business planning, corporate governance, market research and branding. Once complete, the action plan will help to identify gaps and solutions to improve Northern Ontario’s food distribution system.
By improving distribution efficiency, this project will also assist in addressing food insecurity in rural and Indigenous communities throughout the region.
"This FedNor funding will allow us to provide expert-level support to farmers and producers and establish a food hub here in Dryden. This project will help us eliminate barriers so this key sector can thrive, increase output, and improve food distribution systems to better service the region, including in rural and Indigenous communities.” highlighted Local Food and Farm Co-Operative Manager Jennifer Ross
----with files from CJ Goater and Tim Davidson