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About

Launched in 2011, Taste Real started out as the new branding initiative of Guelph Wellington Local Food developed to support local businesses, farms and producers who are passionate about the way local food is grown, prepared, presented and enjoyed, and how real it tastes! Taste Real is now a County of Wellington initiative and continues to support the same local businesses, farms and producers.

Taste Real was developed with stakeholder engagement and is built upon the many successes of promoting local food that have taken place across the region. Working together with our partners and supporters, we are growing one of the most vibrant, local food economies and food tourism destinations in Ontario.

Discover more about Taste Real Guelph Wellington in our short video below!

Our Mission

The mission of Taste Real is to support local small businesses and farms to build stronger rural communities and grow one of the most vibrant, local food economies and food tourism destinations in Ontario.

Our Strategic Objectives

  1. Build upon the current authentic local food network by engaging agriculture, food and tourism partners and community ambassadors.
  2. Foster the creation of infrastructure and distribution networks throughout the supply chain.
  3. Develop, promote and deliver innovative products, services and experiences.
  4. Facilitate transfer of knowledge, skills and best practices to mobilize the strategy.

Who is involved?

A group of 45 stakeholders were represented at the planning table, including representation from Wellington County and its seven Townships, and the City of Guelph. Representatives from all parts of the supply chain, from farms and retail to foodservice and distribution, were also involved. A key thrust of the initiative is economic development, which is supported by staff from Township Economic Development Offices, Guelph Tourism and Waterloo-Wellington Community Futures.  Other supporters with multi-sectoral vested interests include Guelph Community Health Centre, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Wellington County OFA, and the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.  As the strategy moves forward, more and more partners are becoming involved.

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The Wellington County Taste Real Food Tourism Strategy

In 2015/16 Taste Real contracted the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA) to develop a County of Wellington Food Tourism Strategy to position the region as a food tourism destination.  Significant opportunities exist to enhance the established Taste Real initiative to become a tourism driver for Guelph Wellington and to leverage the existing agricultural, food and beverage assets in the region.  These assets include authentic on-farm experiences, a wealth of agricultural products, restaurants with a demonstrated focus on local sourcing, new and emerging craft breweries and popular festivals and events.
This Strategy was designed with a focus on meeting the strategic objectives of Taste Real (as listed above)
Recommendations contained in the Strategy were developed through inventory collection, market readiness assessment using the Experience Assessment Tool™ (EAT™), and stakeholder outreach. A Steering Committee, organized by Taste Real and the County of Wellington, was engaged throughout the development of the Strategy to provide insight and feedback.
Read more about the strategy in the Executive Summary .

Why Local Food First?

Because supporting the local community allows for business retention and expansion.

1. When stores are kept in business, it keeps jobs in town.

2. Money spent in your town in a local small business is spent again locally, often another five to seven times. Money spent at the big-box stores leaves town immediately and goes to the headquarters of said company.

3. You get better customer service from small businesses.  And you can say “hi”, knowing the face behind the counter, which builds customer loyalty.

4. Supporting local businesses keeps your community alive. It keeps the local economy alive which helps with local events, and local community organizations, which small businesses are more apt to sponsor and support.

5. Supporting local food and farming helps make our communities more sustainable – economically, socially, environmentally and culturally.

Taste Real puts local food first by making it easy to bring to the table

Taste Real undertakes the marketing of local food initiatives, saving organizations and businesses many advertising dollars, by developing new products and marketing local farm and food businesses so that members can focus on their own product. We are laying the foundation to increase production in the area to satisfy the demand of the public sector, having recently been awarded a grant to get local food into local hospitals, day cares and schools. We are also growing culinary tourism opportunities.

In Wellington and Waterloo Counties combined, $452.5 million is spent on food. If 10% of that was spent on local food, we would see an additional $45 million spent locally. We are building connections by networking between stakeholders and establishing new partnerships to achieve this. Working closely with Guelph Tourism and the Economic Development Officers of 6 of Wellington’s municipalities, together we are growing one of the most vibrant, local food economies and food tourism destinations in Ontario.

Partnership

Taste Real is driven by partnerships and its members. Partner involvement and fees will enable development and implementation of new programs that will grow your business and the region.

Guelph Wellington Local Food has a proven track record. Over the past 7 years, our initiatives have paid dividends. The Local Food MapLocal Food FestRural Romp and Source It Here have reached thousands of people and increased local food awareness and purchases among citizens and businesses alike.

For more information about membership or the Taste Real programme contact Christina Mann at christinam@wellington.ca.

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Award-Winning Work

Taste Real was recognized for its efforts and contribution toward developing our local food economy by the Economic Council of Ontario and was awarded the EDCO award in the Product Development – Strategic Plan Category.  The award was presented at the Economic Council of Ontario’s Conference in London in February. Read more about it here.

Since then, Taste Real has received two additional awards from Economic Development Association of Canada, and Ontario Culinary Tourism. Learn more about them here.