These Grassroots Growth Initiative (GGI) guidelines are subject to change from time to time and without notice. Applicants are encouraged to review the guidelines including appendices in their entirety before submitting an application.

The objectives of the GGI are to:

  • increase public engagement and support for agriculture, local food and rural development
  • build youth leadership capacity and increase youth involvement in the agri-food sector
  • enhance safety and risk management practices in the agri-food sector
  • strengthen public trust and public knowledge about Ontario’s agri-food systems
  • encourage agri-food and rural development outcomes

For more details on the GGI objectives refer to Appendix 1.

These guidelines are intended to provide applicants with details related to the GGI. If you have additional questions about GGI, please contact us at 1-877-424-1300.

Application process

The application template can be requested from ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

Applications must provide specific details to support the project including, without limitation:

  • detailed project design
  • rationale for why the project should be undertaken and anticipated benefits
  • organizational capacity to deliver the project
  • work plan (activity timelines and a detailed activity-based budget)
  • financial capacity

Submit the application and any supporting documentation by email to ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

Only send files smaller than 10MB and that do not contain live links.

OMAFRA reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to impose a limit on the number of GGI applications an applicant may submit.

After you apply

We will send you a confirmation of receipt within five business days. If you do not receive confirmation, please call 1-877-424-1300.

Projects will be evaluated on their alignment to the GGI objectives and merit (see review process for more information on merit criteria), anticipated impact and alignment to GGI objectives.

The minister will decide which projects will receive funding under GGI after a full application has undergone OMAFRA review process. Funding is limited and the submission of an application does not guarantee funding.

Successful applicants will be required to enter into an agreement with the Province of Ontario and to comply with all the terms and conditions of the agreement before GGI funds can be provided for their project (see requirements of a successful applicant for more information).

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding under the GGI, an applicant must:

  • be a corporation, partnership, sole proprietor, or unincorporated association, including an Indigenous community or band council
  • have the authority to enter into a legal agreement
  • disclose all other possible sources of funding being provided or having been requested for the project
  • be in compliance with all Requirements of Law and agree to remain in compliance for the term of the agreement

Requirements of Law means all applicable statutes, regulations, bylaws, ordinances, codes, official plans, rules, approvals, permits, licences, authorizations, orders, decrees, injunction, directions and agreements with all authorities that now or at any time hereafter may relate to the applicant, the project or both.

Project eligibility

Eligible projects must support at least one or more of the following objectives:

  • increase public engagement and support for agriculture, local food and rural development
  • build youth leadership capacity and increase youth involvement in the agri-food sector
  • enhance safety and risk management practices in the agri-food sector
  • strengthen public trust and public knowledge about Ontario’s agri-food systems
  • encourage agri-food and rural development outcomes

Ineligible projects:

  • do not support at least one of the GGI objectives
  • which as a whole or in part are eligible under an active OMAFRA intake or a publicized regular OMAFRA funding program
  • are to the sole benefit of a for-profit organization
  • have the sole purpose of bringing the applicant’s operations into compliance with Requirements of Law
  • have activities that cannot be carried out by the applicant without the direct involvement of the Province of Ontario’s staff
  • involve directly influencing and/or lobbying any level of government
  • support normal operating costs of organizations/businesses and/or commercial expansion
  • are already receiving 100 per cent in total funding from other sources towards the Project, including other government and non-government sources

Funding and eligible/ineligible costs

Level of funding support

Cost-share funding is strongly encouraged for all projects. It is a requirement for provincial agri-food producer organization local marketing projects.

Applicants that demonstrate financial support from other sources, particularly confirmed financial support (such as partners, industry, consortiums or other non-provincial government sources), to amplify the impact of potential funding, will receive additional merit consideration during the assessment phase.

Funding may be provided at the amount requested, at a reduced amount or not at all, depending on funding availability and Project assessment.

Stacking of funding

An individual project can only receive a single allocation of GGI funding. You cannot stack funding from one or more applicants towards the same project.

Funding from federal government programs can be used toward project costs, assuming it is permitted under applicable federal programs. Combined federal and provincial funding cannot exceed 100 per cent of the project's eligible costs.

The applicant must declare all possible sources of funds at the time of the application, including any other government funding received and  applications that have been submitted or are intended to be submitted for funding. Failure to disclose all funding or possible funding sources may result in the termination of the application or agreement.

Multi-year funding

Multi-year funding may be available. Multi-year requests must include a rationale. The applicant must clearly forecast the budget and activities for each year of the project within the application

Financial capacity

Applicants must have a financial capacity at the time of application to successfully undertake and cash flow the proposed project, should the project be approved for funding.


Applicants must have governance and control structures in place to successfully manage and complete the project, including to manage the funds provided by the province prudently and effectively, and deliver on project objectives.

Eligible costs

Eligible costs that are eligible for funding under the GGI are direct costs that are, in the province’s sole and absolute discretion, properly and reasonably incurred, paid or reimbursed by the applicant and are necessary for the successful completion of the project.

An applicant’s cost to prepare an application is not eligible for funding under GGI, and any costs associated with the application process are at the applicant’s own expense.

Costs are only eligible if they are incurred by the applicant after the Project has been approved by OMAFRA and before or on the Project Completion Date, as identified in the agreement. Any costs incurred by an applicant prior to entering into the agreement are at an applicant’s own risk as these costs may not conform to the agreement’s terms and conditions, and may accordingly be ineligible for reimbursement.

When incurring costs, applicants will be expected to follow a process that is transparent, fair and promotes the best value for money expended. When purchasing goods and services for the project, prices must be competitive and no greater than the fair market value after deducting any discounts available to the applicant. All businesses from which goods or services are purchased must be from a third-party at arm's length to the applicant as defined in the Income Tax Act (Canada).

Eligible costs are incremental costs that are necessary for the implementation and completion of a Project, including:

  • cost for purchase or rental of goods (including equipment, machinery, supplies), and related shipping and installation costs. Capital costs will be considered on a case-by-case basis but should be minimal and rationale for why they are necessary must be provided
  • direct staff salaries and benefits (excluding severance). Note: costs must be pro-rated to reflect the amount of time spent working directly on the project
  • third-party service costs (for example, specific per diem fees). Note: third-party service costs must be pro-rated to reflect the amount of time spent working directly on the project. The applicant must set out specifically what the costs are for (for example, translation costs, cost of one web developer, printing costs)
  • costs of land rental for research purposes
  • costs of rental of facilities
  • travel and meal costs will be considered on a case-by case basis but should be minimal and must be essential for the project to be successful. Meal costs must be for restaurant/prepared food and cannot include alcohol.  

Capital Costs include costs of machinery, equipment and installation; software development including implementation and customization, and information technology equipment including installation, renovations; site improvements; leasehold improvements; building improvements and construction.

Ineligible costs

Ineligible costs are not eligible for funding under the GGI and include, but are not limited to:

  • costs that are, in the province’s opinion, unreasonably incurred or are not necessary for the successful completion of the project
  • costs associated with retaining a consultant to advise on or fill out an application
  • costs to provide additional information under the GGI, legal costs to review/negotiate the successful applicant’s agreement with the province, costs of reports to the province as required under the agreement
  • costs to lobby any level of government, whether the lobbying is done by the applicant, any person employed by the applicant, or third party retained by the applicant
  • costs of any good or service obtained from a person who is not arm’s length to the applicant, as defined in the Income Tax Act (Canada)
  • the value of any goods or services received through donations or in-kind (in-kind contributions are goods and services that are contributed to a project that would otherwise have to be purchased or contracted in order to complete the project)
  • costs for which the applicant is eligible to receive a credit, rebate or refund
  • costs incurred prior to the project effective date or after the project completion date
  • direct wages for existing staff or any other staff who are not dedicated to the activities required to complete the project
  • operating costs normally associated with carrying out the applicant’s business, such as salaries and benefits of contract and non-contract staff, office space and furnishings, utilities, phone, materials, labour, board, committee and annual meetings, etc.
  • costs normally associated with expanding or establishing a business/organization, including legal fees for creating a new entity
  • costs associated with bringing an applicant’s operation into compliance or maintaining compliance with Requirements of Law
  • costs to acquire permits, approvals, etc.
  • goods or services provided by federal or provincial government departments or agencies
  • costs of training and skills development that fulfill any academic requirements towards completion of a diploma or degree under a program
  • costs of participating in mentoring and coaching training programs, unless otherwise noted
  • costs of sponsorship of conferences and learning events or initiatives, unless otherwise noted
  • travel and meal costs unless previously approved by OMAFRA
  • costs to purchase or lease land, buildings and facilities
  • costs to purchase a vehicle
  • financing charges, loan interest payments, bank fees and charges
  • gifts, incentives and honorariums
  • cost of creating communications products that are not pre-approved by OMAFRA
  • costs incurred for other projects including those under the GGI

Targeted, cost-shared local marketing projects

OMAFRA has allocated $1 million annually in funding to support provincial agri-food producer organizations with their local marketing focused projects.

Unless indicated otherwise in these guidelines, all other terms and conditions also apply to targeted, cost-shared local marketing projects.


Provincial agri-food producer organizations must:


  • Eligible provincial agri-food producer organizations may request up to 50% of eligible project costs for projects up to $100,000 in cost-share funding.
  • Projects that support more than one commodity may request additional funding, but not more than 50% of total eligible costs.

Funding may be provided at the amount requested, at a reduced amount or not at all, depending on funding availability and project assessment.

Review process

The project is assessed based on the information provided in the application and supporting documentation using the following criteria:

  • project and applicant meet eligibility criteria:
    • projects and applicants that do not meet all the basic eligibility criteria set out in the guidelines will not proceed to the merit-based assessment review
  • project meets merit assessment criteria:
    • project concept and rationale are sound and demonstrate need
    • project milestones/activities are incremental, clearly articulated and in alignment with the project
    • project benefits are well described including who will derive the benefits and how success will be measured
    • the sustainability plan provides a detailed description on how the project will be sustained after funding ends
    • relevant experience of successfully completing a project of similar size and scope is provided
    • governance and control structures for the successful completion of the project are demonstrated
    • knowledge sharing plan demonstrates how knowledge and/or results will be shared to target audiences as well as intellectual property will be managed (if any)
    • project costs are reasonable and well defined for each activity. Information is provided to support how costs are determined (may include quotes, previous project experience, etc.)
    • financial capacity to cash-flow the project has been demonstrated
    • cost share funding from other organizations and sources to amplify impact of potential provincial funding is identified
    • scalability (budget and duration) of the project is well described

Requirements of a successful applicant

Successful applicants will be required to enter into an agreement with the Province of Ontario.

Applicants will, amongst other things, be required to have comprehensive general liability insurance at levels appropriate for their project, for the term of the agreement. This insurance must name Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario as an additional insured party and contain all of the endorsements specified in the agreement. A Certificate of Insurance may be required before OMAFRA signs the agreement.

Successful applicants will be required to register their business information through the Province’s Transfer Payment Ontario.

Project payment(s) set out in the agreement will be made based on project progress and reporting. No payments will be made until the agreement has been signed and all conditions have been fulfilled. OMAFRA will monitor the progress in completing the required project activities/milestones as set out in the agreement.

Communications protocols

OMAFRA reserves the right to announce the successful funding and will work with successful applicant(s) to do so. Applicant(s) are not permitted to announce the funding before that time, unless permission is given by OMAFRA.

OMAFRA reserves the right to publish information about a successful project or may choose to work with the successful applicant to communicate the project jointly.

You must give OMAFRA:

  • 10 business days notice of any communications activities related to an approved project
  • an opportunity to participate in any communications regarding the project, including key events

Appendix 1 – Description of GGI objectives


The GGI seeks to provide broader opportunities and greater benefits for the agri-food sector and rural communities in Ontario.

To support the important contributions that agriculture and rural communities make within Ontario, projects must focus on one or more of the following objectives:

  1. Increase public engagement and support for agriculture, local food and rural development. It is important to provide opportunities for Ontarians to share their voice and engage in meaningful dialogue to help identify issues, develop solutions, and address challenges related to agriculture, food, and rural affairs. Key approaches to public engagement may include collaborating, consulting, deliberating, and information-sharing through different forums (for example, online platforms, working groups, in-person sessions, other consultation tools). Activities must provide meaningful and appropriate opportunities to increase engagement that recognize unique circumstances of participants. The results from increased engagement (for example, findings document with recommendations) should help inform evidence-based approaches to plan, develop, or implement solutions for the agri-food sector.
  2. Build youth leadership capacity and increase youth involvement in the agri-food and rural sectors. This objective focuses on actions to empower, inspire, and support youth and young farmers to have an active role in Ontario’s current and future agri-food and rural sectors. Providing leadership capacity-building opportunities (for example, through knowledge sharing, development programs) will support young leaders to: be engaged on the issues that affect youth; provide fresh perspectives and innovative ideas; and gain awareness of and exposure to agri-food and rural sector opportunities. Activities will encourage youth participation in and contribution to the sector to help meet challenges, solve problems, and build innovative solutions and stronger communities. Projects include activities designed to encourage young people to consider careers in the agri-food and rural sectors.
  3. Enhance safety and risk management practices in the agri-food sector. This objective seeks to increase the competitiveness of the Ontario agri-food industry through the establishment or enhancement of safety and risk management practices. Projects may provide new or improved efforts to help the sector better anticipate/mitigate risks, to help ensure the safety of agri-food practices and products, or support a strong food safety system for the province. The identification, facilitation, or implementation of innovative workable solutions and practices to address safety or other risks may help enhance safety and risk management practices in the agri-food sector.
  4. Strengthen public trust and public knowledge about Ontario’s agri-food systems. This objective supports the sector’s ability to produce food/products in a responsible and sustainable way to build public confidence in Ontario’s agri-food system and contribute to longer-term resilience of the sector. Projects may seek to foster transparency and public confidence in the agri-food sector through the protection of public, animal, and plant health, the environment, and Ontario's economy against emerging threats, and transmission of pests/disease. Information-sharing and knowledge transfer activities may improve knowledge about public health/safety and how to minimize risks to public health and the economy and protect the health of animals, plants, and the environment.
  5. Encourage agri-food and rural development outcomes. This objective focuses on other efforts that foster and stimulate growth, improved outcomes, and effective solutions for the agri-food sector and rural development. This may include: education, outreach, extension services, and tools/resources; agri-food events and collaborations; activities to increase local food access and consumption; and other activities that primarily focus on encouraging and strengthening agriculture, food, and rural affairs in Ontario.

Appendix 2 – Application terms/conditions and declaration

The person who signs the application form, if not applying in their own right, must be authorized to apply and sign on behalf of the applicant and to bind the applicant to its contents. Upon the application submission, they will also be deemed to have certified, acknowledged, accepted and consented, as the case may be, to the matters set out.

Accordingly, you, applying on your own behalf or on behalf of the applicant, upon submission of an application, certify that:

  • You have read, understood and agreed to abide by all the requirements of the GGI.
  • You are authorized to sign this form and to bind the applicant to the contents herein.
  • All information submitted in the application is true and complete to the best of your knowledge, belief and understanding.
  • All sources of possible funding for the proposed project have been disclosed in the application, including sources and amounts from federal, provincial and municipal governments, and that cumulatively such funds do not, and will, not exceed 100% of total project costs.
  • The applicant does not currently owe any money to Ontario or, has attached a description of the applicant’s debt to Ontario to this application.
  • You/the applicant are not, nor is any officer, director or employee of the applicant, an agent, joint venturer, partner or employee of the Province of Ontario and will not represent yourself /the applicant in any way that might be taken by a reasonable person to suggest such a relationship or take any actions that could establish or imply such a relationship.
  • You will disclose to the Province of Ontario, without delay, any situation that a reasonable person would interpret as an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest and comply with any terms and conditions that the Province may impose as a result of the disclosure.
  • You/the applicant shall retain all records relating to any payments made to the applicant under the GGI including, all invoices and proof of payment for at least seven (7) years from the date of expiry or termination of the agreement if the project is approved for funding.

You acknowledge and accept that:

  • The GGI is a discretionary, non-entitlement initiative and the applicant is not entitled to funding merely as a consequence of submitting an application.
  • Payment is subject to Ontario receiving all the necessary appropriations for the GGI from the Ontario Legislature, the applicant and the applicant’s project (including all activities) satisfying eligibility criteria, eligible expense criteria, as well as the applicant’s compliance with all terms and conditions of the GGI.
  • The minister shall decide exclusively which applications will receive funding under the GGI.
  • Payments, if any, may be pro-rated.
  • Payments, if any, will be consider income for tax purposes.
  • Eligibility may be denied /revoked if false or misleading information is provided or negligently allowed to be submitted.
  • Eligibility may be denied/revoked for abusive behaviour directed at ministry staff.
  • Eligibility may be denied/revoked if the applicant owes a debt to the Crown and has not entered into a repayment plan with the Crown or an agent of the Crown or has not complied with the repayment plan.
  • If it is determined that the applicant has received a payment they were not eligible to receive, through administrative error or otherwise, it will be repaid together with interest immediately upon notification.
  • Any payments owing under an agreement with the Crown may be subject to recovery or offset against any pre-existing debts to the Crown in Right of Ontario.
  • Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, including, her respective ministers, directors, officers, agents, employees or representatives, shall not be liable for any injury, damage or loss whatsoever, or howsoever arising in connection with the GGI, including any, injury, damage or loss arising from any advice, opinions, representations, warranties or the provision of information or processing of applications.
  • The rights and obligations under the GGI are governed by Ontario law and applicable federal laws of Canada. The Courts of Ontario will have exclusive jurisdiction over any proceedings related to the GGI.
  • OMAFRA may publish information about the project, including the amount of funding the applicant has been approved to receive and/or has received under the GGI, the nature of any project/activities funded, along with the applicant’s name.
  • The information provided under the GGI may be used and disclosed to conduct audits, enforce the terms and conditions of the GGI, confirm that the person in receipt of payments under the GGI paid taxes on the payments, and to collect any debt owing.
  •  The information provided under the GGI, with the exception of the Social Insurance Number (SIN) provided by sole proprietors, members of unincorporated entities and partners in a partnership where they do not have Canada Revenue Agency business numbers, may be used and disclosed to, amongst other things, verify compliance with other provincial and federal funding initiatives administered by Ontario or another program administrator on behalf of Ontario or by Ontario in order to confirm the information provided, to verify eligibility and to ensure there is no duplication of funding.
  • The information provided under the GGI , with the exception of the SIN of recipients of funding who are sole proprietors, partners within partnerships or members of unincorporated entities who do not have Canada Revenue Agency Business Numbers, may be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Ontario). The information may also be disclosed pursuant to an order of a court, tribunal or otherwise by law.
  • The application may be disclosed in full to external, third-party reviewers.
  • Payments, if any, under the GGI cannot be assigned, charged, attached or given as security without obtaining the prior written authorization from OMAFRA.
  • The termination of the GGI will not in any way affect the obligation of an applicant to repay any outstanding amounts owing under the GGI.
  • Funding for the GGI is being provided in connection with a social and economic policy and the GGI is a social or economic initiative.
  • In the event of a conflict between anything set out in the guidelines and the Minister’s Order, the Minister’s Order will prevail.

You on your own behalf or on behalf of the applicant, further agree to:

  • Provide accurate, timely and full information, including supporting documentation, to Ontario or Ontario’s GGI administrator if any and will notify Ontario or Ontario’s GGI administrator if any immediately in the event that there are any changes to information provided.
  • Provide Ontario and Ontario’s GGI administrator if any, as well as their authorized representatives, with any information or access to a person, place or thing within the specified time period.
  • Comply with on-site field inspections and/or audits, upon notice, and during normal business hours, to verify eligibility, and to evaluate compliance with the requirements of the GGI.
  • Comply with reviews by Ontario of information related to other programs and initiatives delivered by, or for, Ontario in which the applicant is enrolled or has applied.
  • The use of the applicant’s name and contact information by Ontario to contact the applicant for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of GGI programming, or for any other similar purpose.

Notice of collection of personal information

A successful applicant participating as a sole proprietor, a partner within a partnership or a member of an unincorporated association authorizes the collection and use of their SIN, where they do not have a CRA BN. That SIN will only be used or disclosed by Ontario for the following purposes: conducting audits, enforcing the terms and conditions of the GGI, confirming that the person in receipt of payments under the GGI paid taxes on the payments, and collecting any debt owing to Ontario, as set out in Part VII of the Minister’s Order 0007/2019 which established the Grassroots Growth Program as of April 17, 2019, as amended by 0007/2020 and 0003/2021.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the collection of this information, please contact the Administrative Service Representative, Rural Programs Branch, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, at:

1 Stone Rd. W, Guelph ON N1G 4Y2
Email: AgRuralPrograms@ontario.ca
Phone: 226-979-7884