Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP, visited Grimo Nut Nursery on Wednesday December 4 to learn more about the needs of Niagara's local food efforts as well as to glean information regarding the concerns of Niagara farmers.
Horwath visited with Linda Grimo, who wears many hats including her work at Grimo Nut Nursery. Linda is the past president of the Niagara Local Food Co-op, a representative for Niagara-On-The-Lake farmers, on the Board of Directors for the Niagara North Federation of Agriculture, and on the Board of Directors for the newly formed Ontario Hazelnut Association.
While Horwath was only scheduled for a 30 minute visit, their discussion regarding local food and agriculture kept them engaged for 60 minutes.
Horwath enjoyed tasting Niagara grown nuts and expressed delight in the quality and fresh taste of locally grown nuts compared to those imported from outside our borders. She was impressed with the efforts and magnitude of the Niagara Local Food Co-op, a year-round online farmer’s market that aims to connect Niagara consumers with Niagara producers who are growing local foods or creating value added products with local produce.
Horwath and Grimo discussed the promising hazelnut industry for Ontario farmers. The Ontario Hazelnut Association, OHA, has worked alongside the University of Guelph and Ferraro Company to prepare Ontario growers with the research and knowledge needed to develop a new agricultural industry for Ontario farmers. The Ferraro plant was built in 2006, and doubled in size last year, spending 80 billion creating more plant jobs as well as working with the OHA to engage more growers. Grimo says the hazelnut is untapped potential as Ontario hazelnuts are generally only found at farm gates and not in our grocery stores yet. The rest are all imported. Grimo and Rob Haynes from Mori Nursery and also a Board member of the OHA, will be visiting the Ferraro plantations in Chili in January.