OFA supports county federations

OFA supports county federations
Jun 22, 2021

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The Revive Fund aims to support projects that help connect local federations to their membership and community 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Farms.com 

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) established the Revive Fund to help support the organization’s 51 county and regional federations. Local organizations can apply for funding to support activities that engage their communities. 

OFA found they had some surplus funding from meetings moving to virtual formats, Janine Lunn, OFA capacity development coordinator, told Farms.com.

The organization wanted to use that funding “to help federations support their own communities in reviving after the pandemic.”

Revive Fund organizers identified health and wellness, local food promotion, environmental stewardship, food security, member engagement and recruitment, leadership development, and farm safety or emergency response as key project areas to focus on. 

“We’re really hoping to give back to the membership,” Drew Spoelstra told Farms.com. He’s the OFA vice-president and chair of the budget committee. 

“In a lot of ways targeted projects can have the biggest impact to our members,” he explained. OFA can support farmers and their communities “by partnering with our counties and helping to fund these initiatives.” 

Mental health initiatives are one example of projects local federations are focusing on, Spoelstra said.  

“A lot of counties are setting up different types of programs, webinars, meet-and-greets, those types of things where people can get a little more comfortable with the topic, and spend some time learning about their own mental health and others and how to identify issues around mental health as well,” he explained. 

“The other thing we’re really hoping to do is get more people involved in our local county federations and get some new blood out into some of the groups,” he added. 

“That’s part of why it’s called the Revive Fund,” he said. “Partially because of the pandemic, and the challenges around that, but also because we’ve got county federations that have been struggling and we’re hoping there’s some initiatives that could help.”

County federations can apply individually or partner up on the same initiatives and apply to OFA for cost sharing. 

Local groups “are able to support something they feel strongly about that works for their community, and then OFA comes in and partners on that fund,” Lunn said. “We do have some federations that are quite small based on being more rural and more remote.”

The Revive Fund has two prongs, and federations with less than 450 members can apply for smaller funds. Larger projects are open for any federation to apply, she explained. Applications include a plan, any potential partners or collaborations, and cost estimates.

“It’s a 50/50 matching initiative up to $5000,” Spoelstra said. 

“Anything that’s being submitted is reviewed once a month,” Lunn added. 

Some local federations, such as the Northumberland Federation of Agriculture, have gotten started on projects after submitting applications in April. 

“Northumberland is excited to be participating in a crop signage project that educates consumers about  the crops they see growing in our fields turning into items at our grocery stores,” said Sid Atkinson, Northumberland Federation of Agriculture president, in a June 17 release. “OFA matching funds have enabled us to double the impact of the project, with 12 signs going in the ground across Northumberland County’s major roads.”

Other ongoing initiatives include “videography projects to get short snippets of the farm story from local members to that can be used for promotions and some of them are gearing it toward their school curriculum,” Lunn said.  Farmers can connect with local teachers “when field trips aren’t possible or financially feasible.”

The Revive Find “is partly to help the local federations make that difference they’re trying to make right now when communities have been hit pretty hard,” she said. But also to “show the public that farmers are still thriving and caring about the community.”

Valeriy_G\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo
 

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