Chapeau Sept. 25, 2023
The MRC Pontiac hosted three community “Call To Farmers”, presenting the idea of a regional agrifood processing operation, while at the same time soliciting feedback and input on what can be done to identify and deal with the challenges for small local producers in getting their produce to market. The sessions were chaired by MRC Pontiac Assistant Director of Economic Development David Cyr, assisted by Shanna Armstrong, Economic Development Officer and Agriculture Commissioner, and Annick Lance, Administrative Assistant, Economic Development.
The overall project started in 2021 initially targetting entrepreneurs, generally. After some review it became apparent that the challenge was more clearly assisting agricultural producers and, with that in mind, the project morphed into one of an agrifood system solution providing access to facilities and equipment which would otherwise assist in getting produce to market.
The three sessions were spread over three nights and three different locations: Shawville on September 18, Campbell’s Bay on the 19th and Chapeau on the 20th. In each case, Cyr presented the overarching idea that the project was aiming to provide local producers with access to a commercial kitchen, appropriately equipped, and also provide access to a space where they could process and package their products. This would be a shared space where reservations would govern access.
THE EQUITY attended the final session in Chapeau, and the meeting had the feel of a question and answer open floor. 10 local producers, farmers and marketers were present and they collectively tabled a wide range of concerns. These included concerns over access, cost, cleanliness, liability, accountability and responsibility. Cyr’s answers highlighted that the concerns were widely shared across the other sessions and they were being taken seriously.
Cyr also took time to iterate some of the peripheral objectives and benefits that the project was envisioning. These included having a regional “branding of quality” whereby “Made in the Pontiac” would carry some value when making goods available both locally and abroad. As part of this, he spoke of the value of solidarity, and this was met with unanimous agreement.
Participants were asked to complete a survey providing additional information on the nature of their own production environment as well as how they envisioned making use of the proposed facility.
Next steps include a proposed action plan, for which there is no date set.
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