Today's date: Saturday December 20, 2014 Vol 47 Issue 51
   
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Area local food group hopes for a new image boost

by Kelly Waterhouse

GUELPH

The local food movement here and in Wellington County is gaining momentum, and hopes that a unified presence will help consumers and producers alike make a connection to the local food system.

On Feb. 28, Guelph Wellington Local Food invited community and agricultural stakeholders to its third annual business-to-business meeting, where growers and food producers meet with restaurateurs, buyers, and chefs, and get to talk to one another about local food issues.

That meeting at the Ignatius Centre in Guelph was also the launch of the new regional food tourism brand, “taste real from the ground up” for Guelph and Wellington County.

The new brand is the culmination of two years of collaboration of volunteer business stakeholders, including farmers, representatives of each region’s tourism and economic development departments, restaurateurs, and representatives from the Guelph Wellington Local Food team, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs.

Designed by Mach One Communications, in Elora, the initiative is more than just a logo.

Led by Kathryn Cooper, project manager of Taste Real, and Gayl Greutzberg, outreach coordinator for Taste Real, the project has brought together groups to create a regional local food strategy intended not only to create a culinary tourism product with links to the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, but also to foster a community awareness and growth in the promotion of local food to the consumers in our own area.

For tourism, Cooper emphasizes, the goal is to create a memorable local food experience that invites visitors to get a true taste of what Wellington County produces, whether it be potatoes from Smoyd Potatoes, in Belwood; cheese from River’s Edge Goat Dairy, in Arthur; or beer from Wellington Brewery, in Guelph.

“We want to create a memorable, authentic experience for the consumers,” she said.

But for the people of the region, getting them to think about local food is driven by awareness.

“We want to bring rural and urban neighbour’s together. We are committed to creating a local food economy and tourism around local food, in a collaborative process build on fairness in the supply chain, trust, collaboration, and a promise to keep this authentic.”

She gave a presentation to an audience of approximately 300, explaining the membership-driven benefits that the “taste real” brand will offer.

“This is an umbrella and endorsement brand,” Cooper explained. “We are a collective, with a commitment to put local food first; to showcase the richness we have to bear here in the diversity of our communities.”

“The producer is at the centre,” Cooper explains. “We are literally building this project from the ground up, putting the farmers front and centre.”

The “taste real” brand will operate with business structure, where members from every sector of the supply chain will continue to participate in developing strategies using best practices. “It’s something special to try and brand this county” said Taste Real co-chair Bob Desautels, of the Neighbourhood Group, which owns the Borealis Grille and Bar in Guelph, and most recently, Kitchener, and the Woolwich Arrow Pub.

“Wellington County wants to get in on this and show the world our quality local food.”

For information on the “taste real” brand or a copy of the Guelph Wellington local food map, visit tastereal.ca.

 

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