“Taste Local! Taste Fresh!” Do those words sound familiar? They should – Foodlink Waterloo Region, the St. Jacobs-based organization dedicated to connecting local food producers with customers, has been using this catchphrase/manifesto as the name for its annual food showcase and fundraiser.As various eateries from throughout the Waterloo Region once again prepare their best dishes for discerning local foodies, Anna Contini, manager of Foodlink, says the event will benefit both buyers and sellers.
“The intent from the beginning was to establish a connection between farmers and chefs, and it’s continued to do that,” she said. “Contacts can be made initially through the Taste Local event, but that hopefully continues throughout the year.
“It’s a way of connecting those folks, and as well, letting consumers know more about what’s available here in their own backyard – both in the farm market, as well as local dining experiences.”
After five years in St. Jacobs, the event will be heading to Kitchener for the first time, taking place at Steckle Heritage Farm. Contini believes it’s an ideal match between event and location.
“This being a local farm, with gardens of produce and animals, highlights a lot of the intent of the event. Aside from providing a really lovely backdrop, there’s an educational component,” she said. “Each location has sort of brought about a different flavour to the event, and tapped into a slightly new audience.”
This new audience will be seeing many of the event’s regulars. Of the 20 participating restaurants and caterers, plenty will be familiar to Woolwich and Wellesley residents. Bloomingdale’s Snyder Heritage Farm and Stevanus Family Farm are joined by Woolwich’s OK Egg Farm, Martin’s Family Fruit Farm, and Poultry Place, while Wellesley is represented by Stemmler Meats and Cheese and the Nith River Chop House. New to the event this year is Conestogo’s Eby Manor Farms.
As usual, the event is a fundraiser for Foodlink’s various initiatives, notably its “Buy Local, Buy Fresh” map, designed to show the various farms where local food can be purchased in the region.
“The essence of what Foodlink does is promoting food localism – raising awareness of local food and farms, and helping local food businesses to market what they do. The money is used to help us accomplish that mandate.”
The tenth annual “Taste Local! Taste Fresh!” will be at 811 Bleams Rd. in Kitchener on September 15, 2-5 p.m. More information can be found online at www.foodlink.ca.