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Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association

Providing knowledge and leadership to grow the farm fresh experience.

Fresh Facts
Newsletter #288
May-June 2013
Volume 28, Number 5

President’s Message… Now that most of us are open for the season or very close to it, we will want to get as much positive press coverage as possible to announce this. A press release to the local media is a great way to start the ball rolling. Many papers may print the release word for word. Other medias may call you back for an interview or call you in a time of crisis to contribute to their own story, so you need to be prepared. Recently, I participated in the Farm and Food Care Ontario’s Media Training Workshop. I would like to share some tips from this workshop for you to have handy when you are dealing with the media.
1. Be sure to put contact information in your press release, then when the phone rings…  Be friendly  Thank them for calling  If it is not a call as a result of a press release that you sent out say - “I’m just in the middle of something and would be happy to speak with you but…” defer to a later time so you have time to prepare for the interview.  Interview the interviewer - to get the info you need.  Do not agree to the interview until you have had time to research and prepare. 2. Key Interview Techniques  It is your right to give an interview only after you have prepared  Ask the right questions to help you prepare (see below)  Determine a mutually agreeable time when you will call the journalist back.  Take time to prepare  Make sure to call the journalist back The Interviewee’s Bill of Rights: What to Ask When the Journalist Calls A. Name, phone number? (Google them for more info) B. Which publication, TV or radio station? C. Which program or column? D. Focus of story? E. Anticipated length of interview? F. Who/will anyone else be interviewed? G. When and where will the story run? H. What is the journalist’s deadline?

Inside this issue:
Membership News R2013 Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers Press Release-Still an Effective Tool New Resources from OMAF Upcoming Events

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You then need to establish your Key Messages and supporting points. Practice them with a partner, camera or mirror. When you do the interview relax, stick to your key messages and repeat it a number of different ways to be sure your key message is delivered. The media has to fill their pages or air time each day so help them by getting your good news stories out. I hope your growing season is favorable and the media comes knocking at your door to spread the good news.

Brian Hugli OFFMA President

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Fresh Facts

Delhaven Orchards Ltd., Blenheim, ON frozen, pitted sour cherries available for wholesale and retail Call 519-676-4475 or e-mail

Welcome to these new members. We will be including a short description about the new businesses, if you find they have products you can identify with, give them a call and a personal welcome. New Member Thiessen Orchards Andrew Thiessen Leamington, ON 519-326-5282 Thiessen Orchards strives to provide a fun filled day for the entire family. They offer Pick Your Own Apples, hay rides in the orchard, and a pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkins. Their Kountry Kitchen also serves up a delicious menu. Business Member South Western Ontario Tourism Corporation Barbara Quarry Woodstock, ON 519-290-8687 The South Western Tourism Corporation is the provincially mandated Regional Tourism Organization for Ontario’s Southwest (also known as Region 1). It represents tourism businesses from Woodstock to Windsor, Sarnia and up the Huron Coast to Grand Bend. They have an agritourism tool kit designed for farmers interested in getting into the agritourism business in order to diversify income stream.

Southbrook Pumpkin Patch Closing Sale Fall/Halloween Decor, Walk-in Cooler Freezer. Contact Cathy Chiappetta for more info, 416-908-3242. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have had inquiries for cord quantities of apple / fruit wood for smokers, if anyone has this available I can put you in touch with clients. Eric Hambly Siloam Orchards, Uxbridge
The Classifieds are for members who are selling a product or are looking for something specific. There is no charge for a member to list a classified ad. Just send your ad to the OFFMA office.

Sheldon Creek Dairy is a WINNER!
Sheldon Creek Dairy was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the South Simcoe Business Excellence Awards. This award is presented for outstanding achievement in starting, taking over or substantially changing an independent, profitmaking business venture while exhibiting a high level of leadership, creativity and sense of community. Sheldon Creek Dairy is built on the third generation Haanview Farm nestled in the rolling hills of the Sheldon Valley. Last year they started selling their milk in glass bottles from the farm and through various onfarm markets. Congratulations on your recognition.

Wanted: Farm writers who would like to share their challenges and successes with other on-farm marketers. We are always looking for stories, if you like to write, let the OFFMA office know.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Newsletter #288

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On-Farm Butcher Shop Owners named as 2013 Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers
“Raising animals and livestock requires time, patience and a true commitment to the process, with an end result being our best quality product.” That sums up the commitment Dana and Adam Thatcher, of Thatchers’ Farms in Rockwood have for their farm operation. The Thatchers received the top honour at the provincial awards ceremony held in Guelph on March 26. Winners of the award are chosen based on career progress; environmental and safety practices; crop and livestock production history; financial and management practices; and contributions to society. The Thatchers altered their operation in 2007 from being a struggling hog farm, to now a thriving 250 ewe sheep operation and farm gate retail shop that features their own naturally raised meats, including hormone and additive-free lamb, beef, pork and chicken. In addition they sell Mennonite-smoked summer sausage, Omega-3 eggs, honey, maple syrup, fruit jams and Dana’s ever popular homebaked meat pies. In the spring of 2012, thanks to a grant from the Ontario Cattleman’s Association, they were able to add an on-site butcher shop providing them the ability to cut and package their own meats – ensuring they had complete quality assurance and control. On the horizon, the Thatchers would like to add a pavilion to their property, host agricultural-themed events, chef dinners, school tours and group outings. The goal is to bring people out to the family farm as a destination, making the connection between farming and the future. Co-chairs of the event, Chris and Christy Hiemstra of Clovermead, also OFFMA members, noted that “Spending time with such imaginative and successful young farmers reminds us all that farming is a rewarding occupation and we need to be positive and celebrate our accomplishments. The Ontario event Dana and Adam Thatcher with their children also really showcases the diversity of agriculture in Ontario. Finalists represented sheep, dairy, farm markets, horticulture, fruit, grape and wine and cropping industries. While their operations were different, their commitment to their product, customers, food safety, the environment and their community were all similar.” To be eligible for the Outstanding Young Farmer award, farmers must be between 19 and 39 years of age, derive at least two thirds of their annual income from farming and demonstrate progress in their agriculture careers. Nominations for the 2014 award will open in September and are due December 1, 2013. OFFMA has nominated a member for several years and generally our members tend to do very well in the competition. If you would like to be nominated, please contact the OFFMA office, we are always looking for members who are interested in this opportunity. Dana and Adam will now represent Ontario at the National competition being held in November in Regina, Saskatchewan, where they will meet the winners from the other provinces, one of whom will ultimately be named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers.

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Fresh Facts

Press Releases—Still an Effective Tool to Get Your Story Told
Leslie Forsythe, Forsythe Family Farms, Markham, Ontario

You know you’re getting old when you can begin a story with “I remember when” I remember when learning about how computers worked meant using a pen and paper to draw flow charts and I also remember when hand held calculators cost $400.00. The possibility of owning a personal desktop computer was at least 10 years in the future and using computers at university meant time spent stamping paper cards with codes to feed into a huge monstrosity of a machine for limited results. That was also in the day when most kids still went through the stage of having a newspaper delivery route to earn some extra spending money. It really wasn’t that long ago but computer technology and the internet has progressed at warp speed to the point where print newspapers are an endangered species and world events are being reported in “real time”. Printed newsletters have become e newsletters, we tweet, facebook and write blogs for current farm events and have websites to inform people of who we are, what we have and where to find us. The frequency of placing ads in newspapers has dropped (have you checked the minimal area occupied by the Toronto Star classifieds lately?) and kijiji is used instead; why not, it’s free.

With all these advancements in communication it’s easy to forget about the tried and true methods of the past. I’d like to make a case for revisiting them; especially writing press releases to submit to your local newspaper. Here is my story… To be a part of our farm business but have his own identity, our son Dan developed a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. He along with his girlfriend, Molly, spent the winter researching CSA’s and refining what they wanted to offer and how to do it. With their program established they developed a brochure, a website page, an e mail address, and a newsletter template for the season. It was time to get the word out. Attempts at delivering their brochures door to door were not only time consuming and ineffective but for Dan, very stressful. Dan has a gift for writing. Old fashioned Dad recommended that he write a press release and take it to the local newspapers. Not all papers were receptive but two were. Dan’s press release was printed verbatim on the front page of the Uxbridge agricultural news. He was interviewed by a reporter for the local Markham paper and that made the front page news along with a wonderful picture of the two of them. The idea of young people trying to stay in agriculture touched the heartstrings of many. You can see his story posted in the media section of our website Dan’s phone started ringing and the e-mails started coming in. This was the beginning of a flood of shareholders (some new to our farm and some, market regulars) coming on board and supporting them. By the end of June they had 175 shareholders in their program.

Dan Forsythe unloading seed flats.

Newsletter #288

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It was definitely the newspaper stories that got them started; word of mouth took over from there. People seem to still be interested in local news. Demographic studies have shown that it is people over 40 who sit and read an actual paper newspaper. With the newspapers being available online, readership is unlimited. They had a nice generational mix of members.

It was heartwarming to see the response and support for the two of them. Last year was a year of learning for Dan and it was wonderful to see him succeed and grow. Get your story told. Check out the OFFMA website member resource page for templates on press releases, and try your hand at sending one out.

Web Resources
Great examples of checklists that can be used when you are communicating with visitors to your farm. Under ‘Communication with Guests’, you will find examples of Visitor Orientation Forms, Supervision Guidelines and a Safety Rules Example Handout. Each checklist can be modified to work for your situation. Why re-invent the wheel when you can adjust it. Definitely worth a visit to this site. Bookmark it as one of your favourites.

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Fresh Facts

Two New Resources from OMAF
Carl Fletcher Strategic Business Planning Lead, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF and MRA)

Introducing Andrew Barrie Andrew Barrie is the new direct farm marketing lead with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF and MRA). Andrew was born and raised in Waterloo County on a beef feedlot/cash crop farm that changed into an asparagus farm with an on-farm market. This fourth generation family farm continues today and has grown to include a wide range of value added products. Andrew has worked Andrew Barrie, Direct Farm with OMAF and MRA for 15 Marketing Lead for OMAF years, mostly based in Grey County in positions including soil and crop advisor, regional information coordinator and most recently as an environmental specialist. Along with his family he owned and operated an onfarm market near Hanover, Ontario growing asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb. Andrew will be working with OFFMA and other stakeholders focused on direct farm marketing and customer ser-

vice. He can be reached by email or phone 519826-3166 as part of the Business Management Unit of the Agriculture Development Branch. SPECIALTY CROPportunities SPECIALTY CROPportunities is an on-line tool designed to assist Ontario growers considering production of a wide range of specialty or nontraditional crops. It features general pages with agronomic and marketing information tailored to specialty crops, as well as specific crop profiles for 100 specialty vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, field/grain and industrial crops. Information in the profiles was based on Ontario-specific research wherever possible. There is also a Crop Selection Tool to assist growers in identifying crops suited to their growing region and operation. Specialty CROPportunities can be found at the following link: http:// index.html or on the ministry Crops page.

Growing Forward 2 Information – Helping you reach your goals Register if you want to take advantage of this program Growing Forward 2 (GF2) is a comprehensive federal-provincial-territorial framework aimed at encouraging innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada's agri-food and agri-products sector. In Ontario, farm, food and bioproducts businesses, collaboration and organizations can build their own plan and select opportunities to help grow their profits, expand their markets and manage risks. With a focus on innovation, competitiveness, and market development, Growing Forward 2 programs are designed to help the industry capitalize on opportunities and contribute to the economy. Whether you are just starting out, or have been in business a long time, Growing Forward 2 will offer practical and flexible programs that can help you reach your goals. Click Register for Growing Forward 2 Information – Dates & Locations Click

Newsletter #288

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Updates from Zingerman’s
Those of you who attended the OFVC pre-convention workshop at Niagara Falls in February are very familiar with Zingerman’s and the quality and type of training that they provide. Elnian Gilbert, one of the facilitators from that workshop sent OFFMA this note….. We've got a whole bunch of seminars coming up in the spring here, and I found myself thinking that the members of OFFMA might like to come to Ann Arbor and take some additional training before their seasons launch into full gear. And, while I know this doesn't make the cost negligible, I thought that offering your group a 20% discount on any ZingTrain seminar from now until the end of our season in June might help make it a little more financially possible for people to come, particularly for those that are within easier driving distance. Please let your members know that the discount code we created is "OFFMA" and it will take 20% off any seminar schedule between now and June on our website!


2. Zingerman’s are offering free webinars on the second Wednesday of each
month from 4pm to 5pm EST. Contact if you want to get detailed notifications of this opportunity.

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Fresh Facts

Upcoming Events for 2013
May 29 Assistance Program for Market Garden Farms, TRCA, Lebovic Centre for Arts & Entertainment, Stouffville, Contact Nadine Abrams at 416-661-6600 ext 5349 or Project Seasons for Young Learners: Cultivating Joy & Wonder, Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, Vermont, Contact Linda Wellins, 802-985-0308 OFFMA’s Simcoe County Bus tour….details included with newsletter OFFMA’s Bus tour to the date, additional info to follow.

July 15-18 Ontario Farm Fresh
Cathy Bartolic, Executive Director 2002 Vandorf Rd. Aurora, ON L4G 7B9 Phone: 905-841-9278 Fax: 905-726-3369 E-mail: 2013-14 OFFMA Board of Directors Brian Hugli, President Hugli’s Blueberry Ranch Leslie Forsythe, Vice President Forsythe Family Farms Jesse Lauzon, Past President Springridge Farm Hollis English, Murphy’s Farmstead Cara Epp, Associate Member Edana Integrated Marketing Nicole Judge, Spirit Tree Estate Cidery Steve Martin, Martin’s Family Fruit Farm Colleen Pingle, Pingle’s Farm Market Steve Smith, Smith’s Apples Dana Thatcher, Thatcher Farms Carl Fletcher, OMAF and MRA Advisor to the Board

Aug. 7 & 8 Nov. 11-15

Congratulations to the McGregors
Deb and Ian were semi-finalists in Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmer Competition. They are part of a three generational family farm located in Braeside. They are committed to providing fresh wholesome produce to their neighbours as far away as Ottawa. Deb and Ian did a great job to make it to the semi-finals as there were several entries in the competition this year. It is wonderful that their hard work and innovation has been recognized. Way to go!