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From potatoes to chips: workshop teaches farmers how to grow businesses

Two-day workshop focuses on ‘practical preparation tools’ for owners of agri-businesses, says project manager
Workshop aims to help farmers how to transition into processors. For example, from just growing potatoes, to processing potato chips. Miriam King/BradfordToday

Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) and the County of Simcoe have partnered to present Transition Smart — a two-day educational workshop for growers to investigate what’s involved in transitioning to become a processor.

The goal is to assist agri-businesses explore the options for adding value to their produce. Led by facilitator Amy Bracco, the two-day workshop will cover everything from operational planning, to product development, marketing, distribution, pricing and sales.

“The focus of the Transition Smart workshop is connecting farmers with the tools to become processors,” said Charlotte Wall, project manager at AMI. “Our programming will focus on practical preparation tools that can be immediately implemented, and also on identifying feasible value-added opportunities for your farm business.”

The workshops will run Nov. 17-18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at Tangle Creek Golf Club, 4730 Sideroad 25 in Thornton. Registration is $45, which includes a continental breakfast and a hot lunch each day, free parking, group instruction, and a binder of course material and resources to take home.

Kathy Beilke and her husband, Bert, of Wagram Springs attended an earlier Transition Smart session. Already producing maple syrup, Golden Birch Syrup, and related products including vinaigrettes and vinegars, they were interested in expanding their product line to become less season dependent.

“We’ve always been interested in developing our products further, such as licensing our farm to become a winery or craft brewery, and creating a birch syrup-based mead, for example,” said Beilke.

The information provided at the workshop persuaded the Beilkes not to jump into a major investment at this time, but to co-pack with an existing brewery or winery until their product has been perfected.

“Anybody who has an idea to produce something on-farm definitely needs to take this type of course because it teaches you the stages of business development and what to expect,” Beilke said.

For more information on Transition Smart, email Amy Bracco at [email protected], or register online.

Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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