Simcoe County is taking great strides to achieve agricultural sustainability and food security, and is hopeful that its efforts will encourage others to take part in the larger food movement. Much of the success achieved can be traced back to the region’s Food and Agriculture Charter, which outlines the fundamental importance of the local food system to the residents of the county.  

“Taking a proactive approach to food systems planning is important,” explains County of Simcoe Warden, Cal Patterson. “When any community relies too heavily on importing food they become vulnerable to environmental, economic, and political changes that could result in food shortages or extreme price increases.”

Economic sense, environmental benefits

The charter steers the community, businesses, government, and non-profit organizations in a collaboration to strengthen the local food system and ensure regional food security.

“A holistic community is a healthy community — one where food supplies are part of the make-up of the region,”

It encourages celebrations of food and culture, environmental responsibility, improved and equal access to healthy local food, long-term economic growth, agricultural sustainability, and increased food education and skills development. “Several county youth are also involved, operating their own successful farm stand businesses, participating in community gardening initiatives, and furthering their studies in agriculture,” says Warden Patterson.  

The economic benefits of the charter are far-reaching, with related industries also being stimulated by the effort to keep food production local.

A healthy community

“A holistic community is a healthy community — one where food supplies are part of the make-up of the region,” says Warden Patterson. “One of the most visible benefits so far has been the increase in civic engagement.”

People in the region are now working together and sharing tips at community gardens, making new friends in cooking classes, and building familiarity with the farmers and families who grow their food. Patterson feels that this is an important component because it shows that residents are joining forces to support local food initiatives.

“Additionally, this support will benefit our farmers who produce food not only for families in Simcoe County, but also for families across Ontario and outside the province,” he says.

Sharing the knowledge

Simcoe County is happy to share resources and information with any regions that also have the ambition to create an equitable and sustainable local food system. “The Simcoe County Food and Agriculture Charter will serve as a legacy achievement, and we encourage other regions to take a lead to support farmers and agriculture across the province,” he adds.