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Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network launches local food portal

The Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network (EOAN) reached a milestone by launching local food portal for Eastern Ontario consisting of an e-commerce platform which will connect its member producers and farmers’ markets with consumers and local food enthusiasts.

The technological tool – prepared in collaboration with Kitchener, Ontario, based Local Line – reaches three EOAN goals: it makes e-commerce accessible to local food producers and farmers’ markets; it facilitates the purchase of local food in the community; and engages collective marketing to the benefit of all vendors.

Member producers and farmers’ markets will be able to highlight products in a portal (if they already have a website, it can be linked with Local Line), take and fulfill orders, and manage business inventories. Consumers will view the available selection among vendors in various markets, then pre-order and even pre-pay as well as finding the pickup point.

“Close on the heels of three-way regional funding earlier this year, today’s program launch is a pivotal moment in the EOAN’s history. Our members produce quality local food and beverages but marketing them to a wide audience has always been a challenge,” says EOAN President Michel Villeneuve. “Now, they will benefit from a greatly enhanced product visibility as they embark in a collective marketing strategy.”

The Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network has also gone a step further to entice its producer members to sign on: it is offering an introductory price to this e-commerce platform of $95 (HST extra) for an inaugural period of six months. In return, partner Local Line will offer its marketing support to ensure their products and beverages obtain maximum visibility.

“The pandemic has forced people to turn to neighbours, to seek products, services, and activities that they enjoy locally. This also applies to their search for food. More than ever, ‘local food’ is becoming paramount in establishing meaningful relationships and sourcing healthy food. With the advent of Local Line and all the visibility it will offer to producers and farmers’ markets, now is a good time to become an EOAN member,” says EOAN Executive Director Tom Manley.

The Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network was created in 2010 and serves a territory comprising Akwesasne, the City of Cornwall, the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell. In early 2021, the Network received additional funding from the United Counties of SDG and from the City of Cornwall, adding to that of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell.

More about the EOAN local food portal can be found at https://www.agro-on.ca/pages/e-commerce. The portal is now accepting vendor registrations and will be open for public browsing and purchases on May 1.

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