Leveraging the power of consumer advocates and influencers to drive promotion of local food in Ontario

May 29, 2017 — Guelph, ON — The National Farmers Union-Ontario (NFU-O) is teaming up with local food advocates and influencers across the province to increase the NFU-O’s capacity for consumer outreach, as they launch the Ontario Local Food Advocate Influencer Network to drive peer-to-peer promotion of local food. With financial support from the Government of Ontario, in partnership with the Greenbelt Fund, the NFU-O’s latest program was developed to increase awareness and purchasing of the crops Ontario farmers are producing and to advance the NFU-O’s vision for an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable agriculture industry in Ontario through local food promotion and consumer education.

“We’ve always relied on farmers and farm organizations to self-promote and tell the good story that’s behind Ontario’s food,” says Emery Huszka, President of the NFU-O. “With this project, we’re flipping that model and connecting with local food advocates and influencers who can reach out to their own communities directly. We’ll support them through developing the educational tools they need to promote a food system that benefits us all, and they’ll support us through advocating using their professional and social channels that they have already cultivated.”

The Ontario Local Food Advocate Influencer Network will help to support key individuals through the assessment of existing communications activities and the development of new materials. Because of many direct-marketing members, the NFU-O is an authority on local food production and the benefit of sustainable food systems; that knowledge is invaluable to influencers who are craving the farmer’s side of the story.

“This investment from the Greenbelt Fund speaks volumes to the importance of consumers in the equation of sustainability in Ontario agriculture,” says Sarah Bakker, NFU-O General Manager. “As an agricultural organization, this project gives us an incredible outreach capacity to eaters that we have never had before.”

Through increasing communication between producer groups and consumer influencers, this project will start to develop shared narratives that are key to affecting long-term change in our food system and ultimately affect the viability of Ontario’s agriculture industry. The Ontario Local Food Advocate Influencer Network will build trust and foster long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between those who grow food in Ontario and those who consume it.

“This is exactly the type of projects we are pleased to support through the Greenbelt Fund,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Greenbelt Fund. “We’re using a small financial injection to help mobilize and support a larger group of individuals who have more capacity to affect change than we ever would.”

For more information or to get involved, visit our Ontario Local Food Advocate Influencer Network page.