The Alberta government has launched “Explore Local,” to help promote and pull together the various threads of Alberta’s local food sectors.
“Explore Local presents new growth opportunities for agriculture food products and services in Alberta and helps connect and support the many different people and players involved or interested in Alberta’s local market sector,” provincial Agriculture Minister Jack Hayden said in a release Feb. 2.
The initiative is meant to pull together “existing efforts” in areas such as farmers’ markets, direct marketing from the farm gate, regional cuisine and ag tourism, “under one umbrella.”
However, the province notes, the initiative “is in its early stages, with specific strategies taking shape that will evolve by working with industry.”
The province added that it already sees “clear target areas for progress” emerging, such as “supporting new and expanded operations, building awareness and partnerships, and working with industry to address barriers to growth and expansion.”
Funding for Explore Local is to flow through the federal/ provincial Growing Forward ag policy framework. A provincial representative said any specific Explore Local undertakings would be approved for Growing Forward funding on a project-by-project basis, through year-to-year applications.
Hayden described local agriculture and locally produced food as a “rising market force” in Alberta and elsewhere.
Local market channels for agri-food products and services are seeing “record sales and unprecedented growth.” Farmers’ market direct sales in Canada now total over $1 billion.