© AgMedia Inc.
by GEOFF DALE
The presence of youth at the Fresh Vegetable Growers of Ontario’s annual general meeting held in Woodstock last month was a positive sign for the industry, says the organization’s president.
“The majority of people there were older farmers, in addition to guest speakers,” says Jeff Wilson. “But there were about five or more young people in their early 20s there and we went to great lengths to welcome them and include them in the proceedings.”
Wilson, who produces crops ranging from asparagus to zucchini in Hillsburg, says this was the first agricultural meeting he had attended in a long time where there was noticeable interest from young participants.
Formed four years ago, the FVGO was established in response to grower needs, receiving start-up funding from the Canada-Ontario Research and Development Program. The project was intended to provide producers with information and training on food safety, production, marketing, promotion and education.
The group’s membership now stands at nearly 100.
At the meeting, producers reviewed initiatives including the group’s commitment to a $500,000 marketing and promotion campaign promoting fresh vegetables as well as lobbying for minor use regulations and the encouragement of research and development that addresses grower needs and concerns.
“A lot of the things we implement now will be the fruit for future generations – like those young people who were there at the meeting,” says Wilson.
The fact the annual session attracted young people was encouraging because, he added, “at least in our sector there is some real interest from the next generation. And if we don’t have that, where will we be.” BF