Friends of Agriculture work to strengthen local industry with food celebrations
Awareness amidst gastronomic delights
BY KIRK STARRATT
Supporting local food producers will benefit our economy, strengthen the agricultural industry in the Valley and help insulate the region against potential food security problems. At the same, it will raise awareness.
Friends of Agriculture in Nova Scotia is working in partnership with several organizations and individuals to promote local food celebrations to bolster the farm industry here and bring food security issues to the forefront.
Representing Friends of Agriculture in a presentation to Kings County councillors at the March committee of the whole session, Linda Best said she spoke with Gaspereau Vineyards manager Kim Strickland last spring about local food and wine and they decided to put on an event.
Before their plans advanced, Best said she spoke with a representative of Select Nova Scotia about an initiative to host “IncrEdible” picnic events across the province last summer, including one at Prescott House in Starr’s Point that drew an estimated 1,500 people. Best said the event was symbolic of the very best of Nova Scotia food products. “I thought, ‘it doesn’t get much better than this,’” she said, pointing out that this year’s “IncrEdible” picnic would take place Aug. 23.
Plan comes to fruition
However, Best said the discussion she had with Strickland about an event to promote local food and wine is now coming to fruition. “April Flavours, A Local Feast” will take place Wednesday, April 29 at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich. “One aim is to increase awareness of local food available in the early spring,” Best said. It appears that demand for local produce is growing, as several producers with inventories of vegetables that keep well through the winter have ran out. Several local wine varieties have sold out at this point as well.
However, she said many producers have came to their rescue and there will be an amazing feast for those who attend “April Flavours”.
Best urged councillors to each bring a local producer or consumer from their individual districts to the event. About half the tickets have sold already.
Strickland said the Valley accounts for about 65 per cent of agriculture in Nova Scotia. With chicken processing plants closing and the decimation of the local hog industry, we have to look at ways of sustaining farm industries and the issue has to be brought to the forefront with the general public. “We have to look at protecting our own food industry locally,” she said, pointing out the province has done a good job promoting vineyards and wineries and we have to preserve our farmland. Strickland said you can’t get local food products year-round at the larger grocery stores, but you can at our farm markets.
Local products to the forefront “That’s why we came up with the dinner,” she said. “We want to bring local products to the forefront at a time of year when people aren’t thinking about them.”
Wineries and farm markets in the area are the basis of a local agri-tourism industry, especially during the warmer weather months, and there are significant economic spinoffs. Even this winter, as part of the Ice Wine festival, Gaspereau Vineyards was full of visitors from all across the Maritimes for their ice wine pressing.
Pointing out the positive momentum of the local wine industry, Councillor John Fuller said Pete Luckett of Pete’s Frootique fame, who resides in the Gaspereau Valley, has applied to the county’s planning department to open a winery.
Best said Friends of Agriculture has about 50 members, including many industry stakeholders, and some are members of a newly established provincial food security committee. There are plans for a “Food Summit” to be held this fall in the Kentville or Wolfville area with the intent of furthering food security goals in Nova Scotia.