SOUTH GLENGARRY, Ontario – The fifth annual Eastern Ontario Garlic Festival drew hundreds to Marlin Orchards on Sunday, Sept. 29.
“Garlic, it’s really powerful. We are getting more people growing garlic, more local restaurants using our garlic,” said Organizer Brenda Norman, who also grows her own garlic. “It’s the one food that connects all cultures and everyone should have access to it in their communities and farms nearby.”
Norman explained that the event regularly supports local non-profits with mandates that aim to help grow the community. The event also promotes garlic as becoming an ‘official product of Canada’.
“Rather than our not-for-profits putting a committee together, the growers and producers are taking over the leadership with us and Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network now is going to be one of our lead partners, so they made this possible today,” said Norman.
Norman said that farmers and growers are increasingly working on networking and passing on knowledge to younger generations in effort of continuing local growing initiatives. She knows of locals who are discontinuing growing different produce because prices can’t compete with those of larger companies seen in grocery stores.
“It’s trying to make it easier for small producers and small businesses, it’s not a level playing field,” said Eric Duncan, who was in attendance, about initiative seen at the event. “When you’re competing against (others) and have regulations or rules for smaller farmers markets…it makes it very competitive and hard to get into the market…at a federal level, there’s not a lot of regulations dealing with that…but it’s still the whole idea of if one business goes and supports two or three (small growing operations) it makes a big difference…its about making sure we have food safety but also making sure there’s no red tape involved for people to run their own business or sell their own goods.”
To find out about the numerous community partners present during this year’s festival, visit Kozroots Community Empowerment Projects website here.