London, October 14, 2020 – Launching a new business strategy just months before the onset of a worldwide pandemic is certainly not ideal, but despite the challenging circumstances The Grove at Western Fair District is celebrating its one year anniversary.
The Agri-business hub was launched in October of 2019. Its mandate is to bring together agri-food businesses, producers, educators and other thought leaders in the Agricultural industry to share resources, space and connections to create the right conditions for innovation, education, employment, and enhance local food security and diversify Western Fair Association’s service offerings in the community.
The first major tenant of The Grove was LiveFit Foods, a company that makes freshly-prepared meals for home delivery. The locally-owned and operated company set up shop in the former Canada Building and brought hundreds of jobs to the site. The Middlesex London Food Policy Council, whose mandate is to develop policy aimed at ensuring the community’s food system remains safe, healthy, equitable and economically responsible, also made its new home at The Grove.
Since the launch, The Grove has also welcomed Renix Inc. – another local company that has developed a ground breaking ion exchange technology to remove contaminants from food processing. They were recently awarded with the 2020 Business Achievement Award for Innovation by the London Chamber of Commerce.
This past year, The Grove provided an indoor space for Urban Roots, a non-profit organization that revitalizes underused land in the city for agriculture, to use for seedling production. Seedlings grown at The Grove would then be transplanted at their urban farm and other locations.
“The Grove is in its infancy, and is part of our re-envisioned, agriculturally-focused business strategy as a modern day agricultural society, said Reg Ash, CEO, Western Fair Association. “Though we still dedicate much of our team’s time and resources to our traditional agriculture education and trade products, it is my hope, as well as the Board, that the Grove will gradually become the centerpiece of Western Fair Association’s commitment to its Agricultural mandate in the twenty-first century.”
During the pandemic the Western Fair Association, was successfully able to transition its traditional Agri-Food week (May) and Agriculture School Tour program (September) to a virtual platform. This allowed the Association to bring its Ag education products to a much broader, world-wide audience – reaching approximately three times that of a typical year.
And, in an effort to support London’s Urban Agriculture strategy, reduce emissions, and strengthen relationships with Urban Agriculture partners within the community, The Grove has also developed a worm farm called The Wormery. Realizing the importance and need for compostable green waste, the WFA team developed a process for converting it to a natural rich fertilizer through vermicomposting practices. Worm castings can be purchased online at www.westernfairdistrict.com and watch for upcoming online education offerings on the Wormery, how to enhance your own composting and the benefits of enriching your soil The Grove is looking ahead to further growth and some exciting announcements in 2021 as it, and the companies it partners with, continue to support important work in agriculture and the local food system. Stay up to date by following The Grove on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by visiting www.thegrovewfd.com.
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