Local food sector receives $100,000 for farm-to-table operations

MAJOR INVESTMENT- Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis announced $100,000 in Community Futures funding to a host of local farm-to-table businesses on Thursday at Parson's Brewery. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)




The local food sector received a major investment of $100,000 Thursday afternoon with a sequence of infusions in farm-to-table food and beverage operations in Prince Edward County.

The announcement was made by Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis on behalf of  Community Futures Prince Edward Lennox & Addington and the Rural Innovation Initiative. The new funding will allow local operations to expand their businesses and keep up with strong demands for the county.

Being a previous  small business man myself, I realize how much small businesses do drive our community and here in Prince Edward County we are fortunate to have a strong agricultural sector,” MP Ellis said. “Our economy’s ability to thrive is directly tied to our food producers, success and marketing.”

Mike Farrell of the County Food Hub. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

The recipients of these investments include:

  • Pyramid Ferments, which handcrafts unique fermented foods and beverages and will be investing in improvements to traceability, staff training and product certifications.

I remember we use to shred all of our cabbage to make sauerkraut on an antique kraut board,” Jenna Empey, co-founder of Pyramid Ferments expressed. “It took so long. Gradually we started to mechanize a bit with a hand crank shredder and then we bought our first Robot Coup fancy mechanized cabbage slicer and it was a game changer and that was a direct result from this funding.”

  • The County Food Hub, which is a volunteer-run project that saved Sophiasburgh Central School from the jaws of consolidation by converting some excess learning space into a commercial kitchen space for food businesses.

I’m just excited about what were doing in the community for the next year,” Mike Farrell, Chair of the County Food Hub said. “We’re going to be servicing all of you amazing people and we have a lot of people already in. I would like to announce Food-to-Share is going to be our first long term tenant and they’re coming in at the end of September and going to be helping out on the community development aspect of this.”

  • PEC Foods, which is making a growing line of salad dressings and is looking to expand local offerings to new markets.
  • Prince Eddy’s Brewing Company is acquiring technology and equipment to scale production at their craft brewery.

We’ve been working on this project to expand our production capacity for quite awhile,” said Aaron McKinney of Prince Eddy’s Brewery. “Funds have always been the issue being a new company we are just over two-years-old so for a company within its infancy, it’s quite hard but to be in a rural area like this and have the support like we do we’re pretty lucky.”

  • County Soda Company is a craft soda start-up that’s ready to scale production through modernization and next generation capital equipment.

It means the world to us to get this grant money,” Jeff Dammeier of the County Soda Company told the Gazette. “For us, we are still relatively a new company and one of our biggest challenges to date has been capacity and output so support like this is going to be put straight to work, investing in fast filling equipment so we can produce and sell more.”

  • Parsons Brewing Company, which is expanding their farm brewery after an eruption of expeditious growth.

We firmly believe that the rising tide raises all boats,” Chris Parsons, co-founder of Parsons Brewery said. “We do hope this initiative and the funds it’s bringing to our community really helps everyone and all the local businesses meet their dreams of success and growth going forward.”

To help prepare the recipients to raise private capital to finance expansion with support of the Upper Canada Social Impact fund, (a new place-based fund which invests in pursuit of financial and social returns in rural communities) the recipients will be participating in a sustainable food agtech bootcamp this fall.

These investments will provide the much needed support for these local food and drink enterprises to scale and improve productivity to meet the ever growing consumer demands from progressively sustainably-minded customers.

Recognizing the pivotal role rural communities play in the region’s economy, FedDev Ontario is providing a total of $15 million over two years for Community Futures organizations in Eastern Ontario to deliver the RII.

For more information on Prince Edward Lennox & Addington Community Futures Development Corporation please visit https://pelacfdc.ca/index.php

To learn more about each enterprise please visit their website