There was food for thought, at Monday night’s Cornwall city council meeting.
In one of the presentations early in the meeting, Gina Dragone, food and agriculture development officer with All Things Food, provided council with the SDG, Cornwall and Akwesasne Food and Agriculture Advisory Council (FAAC) 18-month Report of Recommendations.
Dragone said the initial phase of work for the council established in 2017 ended in December.
“The main goal was to look at different challenges in (local) agriculture,” Dragone said, of what became a report with 17 action items and 43 recommendations.
Priorities include local agri-food businesses development and support, optimizing a regional agri-food value chain, and having local food literacy, branding and promotion.
“Geographically we are located in the right place to be the next hotspot in (agri-tourism),” she said.
Councillors found Dragone’s presentation to be intriguing.
“You seem to be promoting food produced locally, I find that very interesting,” Coun. Elaine MacDonald said.
Coun. Claude McIntosh had a few thoughts and questions, and even started talking gardening with Dragone, mentioning his gardening efforts at home and wondering about the costs of buying local relative to non-local.
Dragone acknowledged some of McIntosh’s questions were not in her area of expertise.
“I’m actually really bad at gardening,” she said, drawing some laughs.
Highlights in the effort so far have included a Small Business Workshop Speaker Series, Culinary Tourism Alliance events and a Commercial Kitchen pilot in North Glengarry, when between June and November of last year, FAAC conducted outreach with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit to discuss challenges businesses were facing due to the new Food Premises Regulations.
The EOHU agreed to partner with the council, to launch a commercial kitchen pilot in 2019.
Coun. Maurice Dupelle put forward a recommendation to have Cornwall send a letter to the EOHU supporting the pilot project in North Glengarry, and look into supporting a commercial kitchen in Cornwall.
Next steps for FAAC is its phase-two implementation, and a full report of recommendations.