ERIN – A local chef and business owner wants to help other women, non-binary individuals and those from marginalized communities in Wellington County, enter the food industry with a new business program.
Foods of the World Outdoor Market is the first initiative from Fanjoy Cooking Up Change, a new non-for-profit from the Fanjoy Culinary + Wellness Centre, which is owned by Pam Fanjoy.
Through the program, participants can launch a food business or product that reflects their cultural and culinary heritage. The program also provides one-on-one training with a chef and access to a commercial kitchen in Hillsburgh.
Funded by the My Main Street Community Activator program, Fanjoy is hoping to share the knowledge she has learned while operating her business within the community for the past 10 years.
"I wanted to be part of the current expansion and welcoming of new people into the region, into the area. We are typically a very conservative, white bread community and we are undergoing a lot of growth and expansion, and sometimes that can sometimes provide really significant challenges for newcomers,” said Fanjoy.
"As a leader and business owner in Hillsburgh I thought, 'Who better than me to provide some leadership and active addressing of providing food education to help people understand different cultural norms and how food draws us together in different ways.’"
All participants need to join the program is a business idea, a desire to learn and time to commit to participating in an outdoor market and weekly education sessions.
"It's a highly customized program for women who really have not had experience in business before in the food industry," said Fanjoy. "They can come with intention and explore what it could look like for them to be able to take their favourite foods from home, where they came from, and be able to share that with the public from Hillsburgh."
A free market is the first part of the program. Held in Hillsburgh, residents can check out cooking demonstrations and can buy lunch, or take home meals, from program participants. The market will run every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until the end of September.
"Each vendor will have an 11:30 a.m. time slot where they can talk to the public about their business, give out free samples, cook either on their own or with me if they want to have a chef vendor, whatever makes sense to them," said Fanjoy, noting one vendor will be selling Jamaican cuisine, while another recently spoke about Métis culture and did a bannock demonstration.
Part two of the program involves chefs and entrepreneurs attending weekly business seminars in the fall. The online seminars will cover topics like how to grow your business, marketing, caring for your mental health, finances, budgeting and more.
"As I've grown my food business in a variety of capacities, all of those topics have been things that I've had to learn about, areas of business growth that I've been lucky to have mentorship and participation in various programs, and I really felt like it was time for me to step up and to be able to give back to other women who are starting to grow their businesses, particularly those who are coming from marginalized communities," said Fanjoy.
Besides benefiting individuals, the program will also benefit the community. Fanjoy notes some new Hillsburgh residents are experiencing isolation. With mental health issues on the rise in rural areas, the program can be one way for residents to connect.
“My goal really, was to create a Saturday event for our community that was free, where money is not a barrier to any family, to come on out and enjoy what we’re cooking up, and by gathering together, that strengthens our community as a whole,” said Fanjoy.
There are still spots left in the program for interested individuals to join. To learn more about Foods of the World Outdoor Market, go to fanjoycookingupchange.com.