Grain Farmers of Ontario plays house at Royal Winter Fair

Organization shows event-goers 'locally grown' can apply to more than just organics with a full-size home constructed inside the fair venue filled with soy-based residential products.

Amongst the cows, pigs, chickens and bunnies this year at the Royal Winter Fair, visitors might be surprised to find a full-size, 1,200-foot house constructed indoors at the event’s Direct Energy Centre location.

The home is a marketing initiative of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, an organization representing the promotional and business interests of Ontario’s 28,000 grain farmers. It was built in financial partnership with developer Quality Homes and is filled with soy-based residential products, including bedding, paint, shampoo and even, to people’s delight, a soy-based urinal.

After building a multi-room showcase of soy products for an event at the TSX in Toronto last Christmas, the organization decided a full-size house would deliver even more impact, according to Dale Petrie, director, strategic development and innovation, Grain Farmers of Ontario. The Royal, with its educational and family-friendly focus and annual vistor traffic of about 330,000 people, was the perfect place in which to execute it.


Working with Cossette’s Optimum in Toronto, on PR and the coordination of partnerships, Grain Famers pulled in a long list of partners to contribute to the project. Sponsors and partners, such as Sherwin Williams paints and Brentwood Classics furniture, have their own area in which to communicate with interested visitors and Grain Farmers created a little soybean growing kit to hand out to children and school groups who come through to view the house.

The goal was to show people the innovative ways in which soy can be used, and show products in a relatable way, says Petrie.

‘Everyone lives in a house,’ Petrie said. ‘So they can see these products and actually visualize them in their own home, whether it’s a candle on the counter, a couch in the living room or a bed in the bedroom. It’s not just a fantasy, they can see it there: it is real life. So I thought that this would really drive the message. And it really has.’

The project is also a charitable initiative. When the Royal wraps up on Nov. 15, the house will be dismantled and moved to Acton, Ontario where it will be rebuilt in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The home is slated to be move-in ready by Christmas this year.