African Nova Scotians interested in farming are sharing ideas and experiences at a two-day conference that started today, April 28 in Truro and Bible Hill. Growing Local: New Opportunities in Nova Scotia Agriculture will focus on the tools needed to start or grow a farm or operate an agri-business. Topics include trends and opportunities in farming, new ways to find business start-up funds and information about how to grow and process farm products. Participants will meet a successful new farmer and take part in activities and follow-up tours. “Growing Local provides opportunities to discuss new ways of doing business, explore new technology to grow different crops, and understand consumer demands for locally grown products.” said Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. “Agriculture is a dynamic industry in Nova Scotia. Homegrown Success, our 10-year plan for agriculture, commits us to working with agricultural businesses throughout the value-chain to seize market opportunities, be profitable in the long term and create good jobs for Nova Scotians.” “The Nova Scotia Agricultural College sees agriculture as a highly responsive and exciting industry extending from soil to shelf, providing healthy food, fibre and fuels for the benefit of all society,” said Leslie MacLaren, co-president and academic vice-president. “It’s the foundation of our rural communities and we are proud to sponsor a conference that supports and encourages those interested in this ever-evolving industry.” The province worked with the Black Business Initiative to carry out a needs assessment and organized the Growing Local conference with the Nova Scotia Agricultural College as first steps to help African Nova Scotians interested in farming. “Over the past three months, we have heard stories from African Nova Scotians across the province of their involvement in farming. The scale of farming has ranged from hobby to commercial and the field from livestock to hydroponics,” said Gordon Doe, director of business development with the Black Business Initiative. “It is certainly exciting for us that we can conclude this needs assessment project with a conference that affords participants the opportunity to share their farming experiences and also learn from others. The Black Business Initiative is particularly pleased to be able to help participants rethink farming as a business opportunity. We are looking forward to supporting our farmers and help them realize the opportunities in small scale farming.” The Growing Local conference is sponsored by the Black Business Initiative, Nova Scotia Agricultural College and the province. It takes place at the Best Western Glengarry in Truro and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Bible Hill. Growing Local is funded through the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Agreement, which helps low-skilled workers, people who are not eligible for Employment Insurance benefits, and groups who are under-represented in the workplace, find sustainable employment.