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Make lemonade

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Rainy River District may be off the beaten track so to speak, but that doesn’t mean we can’t rise above our relative isolation.

Case in point the two local farms which received regional awards on Friday in Thunder Bay under the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence program.

Pine River Ranch near Pinewood, owned by Amos and Heidi Brielmann, was saluted for its environmental stewardship and green energy options. Meanwhile, Deb Cornell and Bill Darby, owners of the Rainy River Elk Company in La Vallee, earned kudos for their marketing efforts in the wake of the BSE crisis that affected their access to the U.S.

It would be easy to throw in the towel in the face of obstacles, such as tougher environmental regulations imposed by the federal and provincial governments or having your prime market slammed shut by circumstances well beyond your control. Instead, Pine River Ranch and the Rainy River Elk Company are shining examples of how to reap success thanks to creative thinking, hard work, and a “can do” attitude.

For the Brielmanns, their efforts not only benefit our environment, but it’s helped them crack the lucrative market for “organic” foods. Ms. Cornell and Mr. Darby, for their part, expanded their customer base through farmers’ markets by using product differentiation.

But on a broader scale, they’ve shown to the rest of the province that Rainy River District is not a backwater, but a place where innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit can thrive.

Congratulations to both families on this prestigious award. And thanks for reminding us of that age-old lesson we’d all be wise to take to heart: When given a lemon, make lemonade.

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