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Rural Opportunities Network launched
Small business owners, rural communities, wildcrafters and others looking for resources and tools on marketing, food processing and selling specialty products now have a website designed to connect rural groups and individuals. The Rural Opportunities Network is the first national, bilingual website for small and medium-sized natural resource businesses. Launched in October by the Centre for Livelihoods and Ecology at Royal Roads University, the site brings together producers, consumers, researchers and others. Users can source unique local products and share information on a diverse range of topics, from agroforestry to marketing non-timber forest products.
RRU completed the project in partnership with Biopterre, the Institute for Culture and Ecology, FORREX, INFOR, Untamed Feast and the Canadian Model Forest Network, with funding from the Rural Secretariat of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
"As interest in local, natural and organic products continues to grow, consumers are looking for dependable sources of a range of unique and sustainably produced products," said Brian Belcher, director of the Centre for Livelihoods and Ecology at Royal Roads University. "This growing demand creates important opportunities for rural entrepreneurs, and our website is a place where they can share information."
The National Buyer’s and Seller’s Directory provides free listings for producers. An interactive map shows the location of each listing enabling consumers to find businesses near them so they can ‘buy local.’ Producers can use this to help determine what products or services are available or needed locally.
The Tools and Resources page provides links to a collection of documents and other websites. The Guidebooks and Toolkits section has publications on various subjects including community forests, mushroom harvesting, and essential oil production. There is also a series of videos on topics including woodlot management, small scale sawmilling, native plant nursery management and marketing of niche products. The website includes case studies, business plans and lists of advisors to help grow rural businesses.