OFA supports the recent request made by the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association (OFFMA) that agri-tainment farms be listed on the provincial Reopening Ontario in Stages website, under Attractions and Heritage Institutions.
OFFMA is a not-for-profit, educational, and promotional organization working with farmers who market directly to consumers. Members of OFFMA are made up of on-farm markets, pick-your-own operations, and agri-tainment businesses in Ontario. Recent studies show that in 2015 the agri-tainment sector contributed approximately $1.26 billion to the provincial economy.
With growing demand for high-quality Ontario food and beverage products and outdoor entertainment, the agri-tainment sector provides an opportunity to increase food sales and create jobs, support diversification and scaling of farm and food businesses, and meet the needs of local and regional demand.
COVID-19 has caused a significant strain on outdoor agri-tainment farms by creating various roadblocks preventing them from operating at full capacity. Public health departments have given agri-tainment farms across Ontario varying classifications, and clarification is needed for farms and the general public. OFFMA is requesting that their guidelines for safety be standardized and that all agri-tainment farms be required to adhere to these guidelines instead of the current maximum of 100 guests per farm.
OFFMA is requesting guidelines of:
- Reduced capacity at 20% or less per farm, to take into account the varying sizes and acreage of different properties.
- Timed Ticketing that will allow for all tickets to be purchased online and timed throughout the day.
- Social distancing signage both online and on-site.
- Increased cleaning and sanitization throughout high-used farm areas and washrooms.
- Cancellation of any farm activities that would not allow for social distancing.
- 50% capacity and mask requirements during wagon rides.
- Screening and monitoring of both staff and visitors.
- Staff personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety training.
OFA supports the request made by OFFMA as agri-tainment farms provide Ontario families and farm businesses with a unique opportunity to experience local food production, connect with agriculture, and support local businesses. The fall is a prime season for these businesses and by addressing the OFFMA’s request, we can ensure that agri-tainment farm businesses are able to continue to operate and drive our economy forward during these difficult times.