Responding to COVID19 by supporting sustainable food enterprises in Eastern Ontario
Impact8 is coming to Prince Edward County. Initially launched in Toronto in 2013 and now running multiple times a year through Esplanade, our partners in Montreal, the program connects entrepreneurs with workshops, mentorship and coaching to help them become impact investment ready.
Supported by the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund of the Government of Canada, SVX is partnering with Esplanade, Rhizome, and County Coworking to support incredible social enterprises in Eastern Ontario through Impact8. Targeting sustainable food businesses, agtech and climate-focused businesses the program seeks to help the selected enterprises emerge from the current pandemic with the funding and runway needed to bring about systemic change to food systems and environmental practices in Canada.
In rural areas like Prince Edward County and many parts of Eastern Ontario, food is a way of life. From traditional farms to agtech enterprises to eco tourism, the region has an active community of social entrepreneurs working to help all of us live sustainably. Their stories suggest that some of the most impactful responses to food system and climate challenges may emerge from places where people have for generations been stewards of the land and waterways.
We are delighted to be working with an incredible stable of entrepreneurs to kick off 2021:
ZipGrow Inc, based out of Cornwall, is one of the leading manufacturers of vertical hydroponic farming equipment selling to customers across the globe. Enabling both small and large farmers to build their own indoor farm, ZipGrow is making it easier for growing local to be accessible anywhere and in any season.
Fieldless Farms is a great example of how impactful indoor farming can be. Also based out of Cornwall, Fieldless has taken indoor farming and made it mainstream. Selling directly to grocery chains like Independent Grocers and FarmBoy, their biggest challenge seems to be keeping their product in stock and on the shelves.
Sustainable food goes beyond growing crops. Nanopect has tackled one of the biggest challenges with animal feed by developing a formula that makes it easier for key nutrients to be absorbed to promote healthy livestock. Using the same technology, they are developing crop protection agents to reduce the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
Although Nanopect may not be able to help us decide what to have for dinner, Taltis Foods just might — by bringing African cuisine to Canada. With a variety of beverages and their signature Jollof sauce, Ontarians are being introduced to a whole new pallet of flavours.
When it comes to supply chains, food is arguably even more challenging than other sectors. The process for farmers to sell their crops has not seen much evolution due to season-specific crops, harvesting times, and limited shelf life. Based out of Picton, Grain Discovery, has pulled crop selling into the digital age by creating a platform that makes it easier and more efficient for farmers to find buyers. This allows them to focus on growing and managing their farm instead of being stuck on the phone with brokers and intermediaries. The company was founded by three entrepreneurs from the trading team at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which has $475 billion in assets under management, who saw a way to empower farmers and transform a global supply chain.
Although there is so much happening outside of our biggest cities, many are not aware of the thriving communities that surround our agricultural ecosystems. That’s why The June Motel has been converting aging rural motels into sustainable accommodations with a focus on cultural experiences. Tapping into the Generation Z and Millennial mindset, they are helping connect the tourism sectors to these small communities and expose urbanites to local food and culture.
Continuing the trend of utilizing resources to connect with today’s generation, Dara Gallinger, one of the partners, will be launching an experiential farm in Prince Edward County that will grow and harvest wild flowers to convert them into ethical, sustainable skin care products. With plans to add a restaurant and bed and breakfast the farm will connect global customers and local visitors to the land to better understand how every decision we make in the morning has an impact on our planet.
Even our hobbies can shape the future. Open Ocean Apps has developed a tool to educate and train fishers of all skill levels to understand local regulations, learn how to effectively catch and release and promote sustainable fishing. With plans to expand into hunting as well, Open Ocean Apps seeks to help promote a healthy balance in our natural ecosystems.
The entire impact8 team is incredibly excited to work with these inspiring companies. With high impact workshops and programming, culminating in a presentation style pitch event, this is an event you won’t want to miss! Check back often for the details of the final event and to learn more about how these enterprises are building sustainable food systems in Eastern Ontario.