Third annual Agricultural Forum celebrates innovation

Agriculture Forum Speakers

(From left to right): Michael Brownbridge, Research Director from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Charles Benoit, co-founder of the Toronto Distillery Company, Kevin Stemmer, co-owner of Stemmler Meats and Cheese based out of Heidelberg and Alex Barlow, Business Development Executive with Mentor Works (Cambridge).

On Thursday, January 29, Halton hosted the Third Agricultural Forum at Country Heritage Park in Milton. This annual event provides the Region with a great opportunity to connect directly with the local farming community and engage in open dialogue about important and emerging issues.

This year’s event was focused on innovation and was designed to provide information on some of the latest trends in agriculture, including new research, funding opportunities and the advantages of developing niche products. The event featured four guest speakers:

  • Michael Brownbridge, Research Director – Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
    Discussed some of the new research at Vineland, the importance of local food and the potential of developing non-traditional crops.
  • Charles Benoit, Co-founderToronto Distillery Company Spoke about making changes in an already established marketplace by using Ontario-grown organic grains and distilling them into whiskey.
  • Kevin Stemmler, Co-owner  – Stemmler Meats and Cheese Provided an overview of developing niche markets with a focus on  consumers with food allergies.
  • Alex Barlow, Business Development Executive – Mentor Works Presented government funding options for innovative projects in the agriculture and food sectors.

Halton Regional Council is committed to supporting our agricultural community. The protection of agriculture as a resource has been a consistent position of the Region since its inception to preserve farmland and enhance viability of the agricultural sector. Our farming and agricultural community continues to be a key piece of our economy, and one that Halton will continue to support through the development and delivery of the Comprehensive Rural Strategy, the Agri-tourism Action Plan, the work of the Halton Agricultural Advisory Committee (HAAC) and the support provided by Anna DeMarchi-Meyers, Halton’s Agricultural Liaison Officer.

The agriculture and farming industry has great potential for sustainable growth and through cooperative action at events like the forum, this sector will continue to be a key piece in making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”