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Growing Up Organic (GUO) Project

Local Growing Up Organic Sites
Winnipeg, MB Perth-Waterloo-Wellington, ON Ottawa, ON
Salt Spring Island, BC


Phase I Growing Up Organic

In early 2007, COG launched the Growing Up Organic (GUO) project. The purpose of the project was to shift Canada towards increased organic production by increasing the amount of organically grown food served in Canadian institutions. Other jurisdictions such as  Italy were successful in rapidly increasing the number of acres under organic management by creating policies and programs around institutional food procurement. Could this approach work in Canada? For more details on the planned strategy, download the Growing Up Organic Project Report.

What have we achieved since 2007?  Pilot projects, carried out by COG chapters and affiliates across Canada, helped us adjust our strategies to support large scale transition to organic production. For example, we brought farmers and institutions together to develop lasting business relationships. This was the first national effort of its kind and the results are promising. With technical support and access to stable markets, farmers across the country are willing to begin the transition to organic management practices. Institutions appear to be more than willing to transition their practices too.

The regions and communities where we conducted feasibility studies included Salt Spring Island, BC; Whitehorse, YK; Saskatoon, SK; Winnipeg, MB; eastern Ontario; the Perth-Wellington-Waterloo region of southern Ontario, the Kawartha region of central Ontario and the Maritimes. Based on the results from these feasibility studies, we realized that the primary needs were strengthening and growing the existing organic farming community and developing efficient and effective distribution systems that meet the needs of small scale growers.


Phase II Growing Up Organic

Our next step is to build on the success of Phase 1 of this project and develop a national program. It is clear that the existing organic farming community needs more support and expansion. All farmers, both organic and conventional, require access to learning and training opportunities to improve their technical skills and production.

Farmer co-operatives provide the best means of organizing local supply and building local distribution infrastructure. Unfortunately, there are currently no programs that stimulate and oversee their development. Thus, farmers need to work together to ensure diversity and consistency of supply. Meeting the needs of the smaller local consumer and commercial markets is the best way to capture the available food dollars during the first few years of co-operative business development. Once volumes, pricing and quality are stabilized, it appears easier to expand into institutional markets through educational campaigns and programming

The GUO pilot project was a beginning, not an end-point. Through this project, COG identified partners
interested in working with the organic sector to increase organic production and to develop scale appropriate
distribution infrastructure. The groundwork has been laid for continued work in the future.

Our findings and recommendations are summarized in our Three Year Progress Report.



The GUO project gives thanks to the following national sponsors:

sponsor1 sponsor2 sponsor3


Funding for this project was provided through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program.

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