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Northern Ont. hosts first Feast on the Farm event

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'Feast on the Farm' is a culinary experience that brings together farmers and chefs to create unique meals for people who enjoy farm-to-table experiences.

'Bison du Nord', owned by the Belanger family, is an animal welfare approved farm in Earlton, Ont., which hosted the event. It's been supplying the province with grass-fed meat since 1972 from its herd of about 400 bison.

Now, more people are aware of where their bison meat is coming from.

“There are fantastic food and agriculture opportunities in northern Ontario as well as wonderful tourism opportunities so we want everybody to come back and tell their friends," said James Franks, an economic development officer for the City of Temiskaming Shores.

“The only bison I’ve seen is like at the Toronto Zoo and these ones look much happier,” said Lucina Lo from the GTA.

She told CTV News she left Toronto at 4:00 a.m. to get to the farm on time to taste the dishes prepared before her eyes.

Lo is one of dozens of others who did the same and not just to watch the bison, but to also get acquainted with the several chefs on site like Brianna Humphrey, owner of Radical Gardens in Timmins, Ont.

“This gives you a direct like face-to-face with your customers that really are here because they love local food and because they love food,” said Humphrey.

“To have that connectivity with someone is just – that’s what food’s about; that’s what makes food better."

Besides bison – pork, squash, oats, haskap berries and local beverages were among the other tasty treats to try.

"I like the small community vibe where everybody comes together and it’s locally supporting local farmers, chefs from different areas so that’s really nice to see," said Eric Jaing, who came from Markham, Ont.

"We don’t get too much of that in the big city downtown."

One of the farm's owners hopes something like 'Feast on the Farm' will encourage the provincial government to change the law that keeps small livestock businesses from expanding.

“The abattoir rule where you harvest something in your province you can’t sell to another province and that’s across Canada so that’s a really unfortunate rule because you know my market’s cut in half basically," said Charles Belanger, co-owner of Bison du Nord.

"I would have another 150,000 people on the Quebec side if it wasn’t for that rule – but we do have a very nice abattoir here in Belle Vallee."

This is the first time a 'Feast on the Farm' event has taken place in northern Ontario with ticket sales from the event supporting recovery efforts for the hospitality sector after the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on Bison du Nord and their offerings, visit their website.

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