On June 9, 2017, Neil Stoop and Ryan Gibson joined Marty Rops to enhance the understanding of the current economic and community development landscape in Perth Couny. Marty Rops (Perth-Huron regional manager for Libro Credit Union) arranged a tour of the region with several meetings in place. The day started bright and early at a small café in downtown Stratford. Over breakfast, Ryan Erb from the Perth-Huron United Way joined us. Ryan had great insight to the goings on in Perth County, with intimate knowledge of the local context, and experience with many community projects. With breakfast out of the way, and one great meeting already complete the next stop was The Local. The Local is Stratford’s very own community food centre, and one of the few community food centres not located in a large urban centre. The Local provides opportunities for individuals to learn about food, gardening and cooking while also providing access to quality meals and produce. They have a wonderful facility with a large kitchen, a greenhouse and expanding into a new community garden. Following the visit to the Local, the final stop in Stratford was at the Perth County Community Futures Development Corporation. General Manager, Meghan Marshall, was excited to share ideas, stories and potential for future collaboration. The remainder of the day was spent getting to know the smaller communities in Perth County including Mitchell, Kinkora, and Listowel. Each destination had its own character and strengths. Discussions with local business owners showed creativity and promise while working within their specific context and constraints.

The day was full of possibility. Perth County has many great initiatives and individuals working to build the future of Perth County. Every individual, organization and business has a role to play in the daily life and vibrancy of Perth. There is no shortage of interesting phenomenon and potential for future collaboration. Many contacts were made introducing the potential for expanded research opportunities and student projects in the area. It was a successful journey, and pleasure learning about the Perth County context.

Written by Neil Stoop