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Help local farmers and processors and you could win a prize pack!

Published on SSMIC, originally posted by Sault Ste. Marie Local

The Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), a division of Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), is studying the buying habits of residents to help local farmers and food processors grow their businesses.

They have launched the Local Pulse survey to learn more about the community’s buying habits. Each person that completes the survey will be entered into a draw for the chance to win a prize pack of local products.

RAIN Supports Local Agriculture and Food Sectors

RAIN works with local agri-food enterprises and rural communities of Algoma to build a resilient regional agriculture and food sector.

Lauren Moran, Research Assistant at RAIN, explains, “Some of the ways we support these sectors is by offering funding support for farmers and food businesses to increase their productivity and decrease their environmental impacts, conducting research about on-farm practices and local markets, and collaborating with other organizations and institutions that have shared interests around agriculture and economic development in Northern Ontario.”

“One of our programs, ‘Buy Algoma, Buy Local’, is a marketing program designed to unite local farm and food businesses under a recognizable regional brand,” Lauren continues. “Our website acts as a directory for community members to see all these businesses in one place, with a filtered search feature to help them more easily source local products.”

Understanding If and When Residents are Shopping Local

The Local Pulse survey is meant to enhance the work of RAIN by collecting current and relevant information about the shopping habits of local residents. According to Lauren, they want to learn whether people are shopping locally.

“From what we’ve seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a big uptick in people talking about buying local and how it’s important for them to know where their food comes from. Our goal is to dive deeper into the ‘what/where/why’ of Algoma’s local shopping habits so we can get a better understanding of how community members are engaging with these smaller local businesses,” she says.

“For example, some businesses started using e-commerce to sell their products when in-person selling was restricted due to COVID, but have customer habits changed to take advantage of this? We can’t really know without asking these types of questions.”

The information gathered from the Local Pulse survey will help local growers and food producers to make strategic decisions that will help them to grow their sales and strengthen customer connections.

Everyone Can Participate

The Local Pulse survey (which is also available in French) is designed to gather information from as many Algoma community members as possible.

“We’d like to hear from as many people in the community as possible, especially those who are doing the bulk of the shopping for their family or household,” says Lauren.

For added incentive, anyone who completes the survey will be entered to win a unique prize pack of local products from some of the Buy Local, Buy Algoma member businesses including Soup Witch, St. Joe’s Island Coffee Roasters, Hogan’s Homestead, Cornucopia, Red Roof Honey, Annanda Chaga, and Thomson’s Farm.

On top of completing the survey, the community can help to support local farmers and food processors by staying connected with Buy Algoma, Buy Local member businesses on Instagram and Facebook.

For more information about RAIN and the Local Pulse survey in English and in French, visit them online or call (705) 942-7927, ext. 3017

The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) is a non-profit organization that functions as a catalyst for economic development and diversification in the science knowledge-based sectors SSMIC has experts in business development, agriculture, IT, science and technology dedicated to helping you find better solutions. We exist to drive business growth, facilitate research and commercialize it’s technology through partnerships, expert advice, community development, outreach and sector development activities

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