Gardening not only provides a connection with nature, it connects us to our food. As more and more people are concerned about the provenance of their food - where it came from and how it was grown - gardening has given "local" a new meaning. The 2014 Edible Gardening Report conducted for the Garden Writers Association Foundation notes that:
Among the 75 million gardening households that have a lawn, garden or grow plants in containers, this year more than two in five consumers (44%) said that they grew edible plants in the ground, while 15% used containers. Almost one-third (32%) grew edible plants both in the ground and in containers.
A majority of consumers (58%) plan to grow edible plants in 2015. One-quarter of consumers plan to grow edible plants in the ground, while just under one in ten (9%) expect to use containers for growing edible plants. Those who plan on using both methods registered at 24%.
An article in Grainews magazine recently featured nine tips to get started down the path to organic transition, as well as some useful resources and suggestions for quelling those pre-organic transition fears. Check out pages 7-10 here.
As part of our new grain program, David Hobson attended the BIOFACH 2015 in Nuremburg, Germany in February. BIOFACH is the world’s largest organic trade show, with over 2,200 presenters, all of whom are certified organic. Participants include buyers, processors and traders from all over the world, but about two thirds are from Europe.
This visit was part of a new effort to assess potential international buyers for Prairie grain and other ingredients produced in the region. Of particular interest in Europe are oilseeds (flax, hemp, borage), wheat (bread and durum), and soybeans. European processors tend to prefer supplies from the closer Eastern European countries, and their prices are very competitive. Some Canadian Prairie farmers were also at the trade show looking for buyers that they could direct market to. Trade commissioners were also on hand, and the Canadian Organic Trade Association organized strategic meetings and introduced us to key players. Several interested buyers stopped by our booth with inquiries for Canadian products like wheat, flax and durum. This trip was our first activity in our market development program and Organic Alberta will continue to work closely with the Canadian Organic Trade Association to connect growers to markets.
In the latest sign of diversification and expansion in Canada’s organic market, the fast-food chain A&W Canada has announced it will exclusively offer organic and Fair Trade coffee in all of its locations. A&W is Canada’s second-largest hamburger chain, with 819 locations nationwide. A number of retail and brand owners have recently announced they will expand their organic offerings and presence in the Canadian market, which COTA now estimates at over $4 billion per year.
Executive Director Becky Lipton was in Anaheim, California recently building relationships and making connections with buyers of Alberta and prairie based organic products. Alberta company Baby Gourmet was just one of the companies represented at the Natural Products Expo West. This annual event is one of the world's largest trade events for the natural food and organic product sector and attracts food companies, industry associations, trade agencies, marketers and buyers from across North America.