Networking with a tasty twist
The Finch Market of North Stormont provided refreshments, artisanal cheeses and meats during the Let’s Grow AgriTourism in our Region Together! event held on Jan. 9 in the tasting room of the Upper Canada Cider Company in Summerstown, South Glengarry. From the left are: Irene Cameron, Chef Luc McCabe and Sue Stewart of The Finch Market and Eleanor McGrath. Cameron and McGrath are both members of the AgriTourism 2020 Committee which hosted the event. Thompson Goddard photo

Agritourism in SDG
Close to 100 stakeholders and politicians gathered in the tasting room of the Upper Canada Cider Company in Summerstown, South Glengarry to network and share information on agritourism in Akwesasne, Cornwall and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Thompson Goddard photo

SUMMERSTOWN – The point of agri­tourism is to bring visitors to a farm or rural location; it includes activities such as overnight farm stays, culinary experiences, farmers’ markets, agricultural education, entertainment or recreational activities.

The AgriTourism 2020 Committee, during a “meeting around the Springfield Farm kitchen table” in Dec. 2019, decided to hold an information session for local firms, according to spokesperson Eleanor McGrath. The result, Let’s Grow AgriTourism in our Region Together!, was held on Jan. 9 in the tasting room of the Upper Canada Cider Company in Summerstown, South Glengarry. 

The AgriTourism 2020 Committee is composed of members who represent “a good cross-section of local businesses in the region and the collective knowledge of the challenges in getting access to tourists and revenue,” commented McGrath in a post-event email to AgriNews. Committee members “knew that if we hosted an information session it would provide a networking opportunity to bring together farmers, business owners, hoteliers, caterers and our politicians to meet and share their respective vision for agritourism,” she explained.

Close to 100 people attended the event, which generated a sense of excitement for stakeholders and politicians from Akwesasne, Cornwall and the United Counties of Stormont Dundas and Glengarry. There was ample opportunity to network and gather information on agritourism, while enjoying light refreshments from The Finch Market in North Stormont and the Upper Canada Cider Company of South Glengarry. 

Representatives from the Sir John Johnson Manor House in Williamstown, Honey from the Glen, Parks of the St. Lawrence, and Akwesasne were among those in attendance. Nicholas Seguin from SDG Tourism com­mented that it was “a great opportunity for businesses to get together and share resources to build a stronger and more prominent agritourism presence in SDG.” He hopes this grassroots’ initiative will provide the incentive for similar events throughout the local area.

SDSG MPP Eric Duncan, SDSG MP Jim McDonell, Akwesasne chief Edward Roundpoint and Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement addressed those assembled, highlighting the opportunity to move forward together in this field. Lesley Lan-Thompson, executive director of Cornwall & The Counties Community Futures Dev­elopment Corporation, stressed the importance of volunteers in the development of tourism. She also stated that when we are selling food and drink, we are selling a bit of ourselves.

David Gillespie, founder of the CANAMEX Trail, and Shannon Oborne, president of the Adirondack Cuisine Trail, also attended the event. Gillespie said he works to promote sustainable agriculture, promoting agricultural education with the culinary trail assisting in the promotion of locally produced food and drink. This international culinary trail is in Quebec, Vermont, New York State and Ontario, he said, with McGrath chipping in: “Prescott-Russell has already signed onto this international trail and we hope to be next!”

McGrath said the AgriTourism 2020 launch “totally exceeded all of our expectations!”

“We look forward to hosting more information events in the future and working with our local councils to achieve the strategic plan of getting agritourism on the map in Akwesasne, Cornwall and SDG!” She thanked sponsors of the event, which included Lesley Lan-Thompson of CFDC, Eric Payseur of Growing Eastern Ontario Organically, Upper Canada Cider Company, Kirkview Farms, The Finch Market, Paul Smiths College, Desjardins and Springfield Farm.