In the spring, the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN) and its partners announced a new funding initiative for local food and agricultural producers in Northern Ontario. Launched in March, the Sustainable New Agri-Food Products (SNAP) Program provides small grants to businesses to purchase equipment to support the expansion of their agriculture or food business. The program has already approved several applications from Algoma, including one from Valleyfield Farm near Echo Bay, Ontario for a hoop house to produce new vegetable varieties and extend the growing season.
On their 80 acre mixed farm, the Lemieux family produces naturally grown vegetables in addition to grass-fed beef, lamb, pork and poultry, selling through the Mill Market and their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
To increase vegetable production and meet customer demands, the farm considered purchasing a hoop house structure, similar to a greenhouse, but had been deterred in the past by cost. When the SNAP Program was announced in March, the farm seized the opportunity to receive 80% cost-share on the structure and submitted an application that was approved weeks later.
“The hoop house will allow us to extend our growing season significantly, as well as grow varieties I couldn’t before. This year I hope to be picking cold-hearty greens into the end of November, and start planting about 4 weeks earlier next spring,” explained Melanie Lemieux of Valleyfield Farm.
These new products and increased production will allow Valleyfield Farm to meet demands of the local market, as well as expand their business to supply restaurants and other wholesale accounts.
“We know this is a busy time of year for farmers and agricultural businesses, but the SNAP Program is a great opportunity to purchase equipment that can increase business and sales. I encourage anyone interested in applying to contact me before the program closes September 1st,” explained Katie Filion, SNAP Program Coordinator for Algoma and Market Development Specialist, RAIN.
The Sustainable New Agricultural Products, (SNAP) Program, provides farmers or agri-food businesses up to $5,000 toward the purchase of equipment to create new agriculture or food products. The $290,000 in funding for the SNAP Program, provided by the Northern Ontario Development Program through FedNor and Industry Canada, is administered by a group of organizations from across the north. The Rural Agri-Innovation Network in Sault Ste. Marie, Eat Local Sudbury Cooperative in Sudbury, Northeast Community Network (NeCN) in Kapuskasing, and Clover Valley Farmers’ Market in Fort Frances are regionally administering the program, fielding applications and encouraging local food and agricultural producers to apply for funding.
Other examples of equipment purchased through the SNAP program include: a dough mixer, frozen yogurt and ice cream machine, green house, root cellar (for drying product), community garden, commercial kitchen appliances, food processor, patty machine, vacuum packaging machine, and cold oil press. Although these are examples of successful projects, the program will fund a variety of equipment purchases, and encourages applicants to contact their regional coordinator to discuss projects.
The SNAP Program will be accepting applications until September 1st, 2014.
For more information on the SNAP Program, including application forms and contact information, please visit www.rainalgoma.ca/SNAP, or contact Katie Filion, SNAP Program Coordinator for Algoma and RAIN Market Development Specialist, at 705.942.7927 Ext. 3024.