Eat Local – Buy Local – Grow Local – Sell Local

Program background

Eat Local Caledon is an exciting leading edge Caledon Countryside Alliance program that is helping Caledon build a local food system and take advantage of renewed consumer interesting in eating locally grown and produced food. One of the fundamental goals at Eat Local Caledon is to help promote our philosophy that eating local is one of most environmentally sustainable actions we can take for our community, our culture, our environment and our economy.

Since its launch in spring 2007, the Eat Local Caledon Program has won tremendous support from all sides, including farmers and producers, restaurants and food shops, residents, Town Council, local media, The Peel Federation of Agriculture and the local environmental community. It is one of the best “feel good” environmental programs and enables people to take real action in a meaningful way. In keeping with the Caledon Countryside Alliance’s work to build a Sustainable Caledon, the economic, social and cultural pillars of sustainability are integrated into the program at a fundamental level.

August 1-3, 2011 016As further testament to the wide spread support for the Program, in just two years, the Program has a long list of accomplishments including: Ontario’s first Eat Local Week in 2007 and Eat Local Months in 2008 and 2009 (with a resident challenge each year, local dinners, cooking classes, workshops and special events such as the Caledon Crunch); monthly newsletters; five Trade Connections Meetings; 2008 – 2010 Field to Table Directory (for producers and buyers); numerous Eat Local dinners at Caledon restaurants; Inglewood Farmers’ Market (launched June 2008); and, Caledon Farmers’ Market (launched June 2009 in Bolton, which is a collaborative project and lead by the Town of Caledon). In August 2008, was launched to provide a dedicated web presence for this program. This work is all in addition to speaking engagements and other presentations within Caledon and throughout Ontario.

Caledon Countryside Alliance

The Caledon Countryside Alliance (CCA) is a not for profit corporation based in Caledon, offering a variety of community programs that serve Caledon residents. The objectives of the CCA are to:

  • Raise the awareness of citizens, government, business and other organizations within Caledon and the Headwaters region about the value of countryside;
  • Identify, develop and distribute programs and policies that illustrate and promote countryside values; and
  • Foster an interest in the issues and problems in the countryside in order to enhance its unique character, values and function.

The CCA’s mantra is “countryside is an option” and “ensuring a vibrant and productive countryside in Caledon so that future generations have clean water, clean air and lands for food production. The CCA runs Community and Membership Programs to encourage all citizens to embrace a Sustainable Caledon.

A dish from the Eat Local Dinner Series event

A dish from the Eat Local Dinner Series event

Over the past decade, the CCA has implemented a wide range of local community based programs, including an Ecological Footprint Reduction Project, Buy Local and Eat Local Programs, Caledon Speaker Series (to highlight community and environmental issues), Weedgee Kidz™ (youth based natural lawn care education program), Caledon Community Map (mapping Caledon’s natural and cultural heritage), Idle Free Caledon Campaign, the Caledon-Dufferin REEP (Residential Energy Efficiency Program) and Sustainable Caledon. For each program, the CCA has relied on collaborative community partnerships with other local groups.

The CCA has run a number of membership programs over the years; with the most cherished being the hiking group since the organization grew out of that group. In addition, the CCA has organized the Caledon Speaker Series and other special environmental events, produces an email newsletter and comments on government policies on behalf of countryside and the environment.

The Caledon Countryside Alliance (CCA) has long been recognized as a leader in the Ontario local food movement. In 2002, the CCA published one of the first Buy Local Guides in Ontario. The CCA also organized the Annual Local Food Conference from 2003 to 2006. Further, the CCA promoted the idea of a Farm Fresh Guide for the Region of Peel and became one of the founding and continuing partners of the guide and website known as Grown in Peel, which will published the 5th annual guide in 2010.

The CCA has an active Board of Directors, and Executive Director, Karen Hutchinson reports to the Board. The CCA currently has one additional permanent staff member – Jennifer Clark, Local Food Coordinator and Caledon Community Map Coordinator. Other staff members are brought on during the summer and for project specific contracts.

The CCA is currently funded from a variety of sources, including fundraising, donations, foundations, and government support. In April of 2009, the CCA was awarded a three year grant for Eat Local Caledon and a small grant from the Community Go Green Fund for a new program called, “Take a Bite Out of Climate Change”. The CCA applies for Federal and Provincial Government funding for students each summer. The CCA is currently finishing work on Town of Caledon Green Fund Grants that supported Eat Local Caledon and the Caledon Community Map.

The CCA has been the recipient of a number of exciting awards over the years from the following groups: Foundation for Rural Living (Awards of Rural Excellence for the CCA and Weedgee Kidz), Ontario Trillium Foundation (Great Grants Award), and, Credit Valley Conservation (Friends of the Credit for Weedgee Kidz, Eat Local Caledon and Caledon Community Map).