Wellington County’s Taste Real Programme is the proud recipient of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA) Award of Excellence for Event of the Year. The Local Food Fest is held annually in June at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre and Farm, attracting families, students, seniors and professionals. More than 50 exhibitors also took part offering prepared foods, craft beer samples, fresh produce and flowers.
“We’re honoured to receive the Award, and we’re thrilled for our community partners, sponsors and volunteers who work so hard to celebrate local food and agriculture in Wellington County” says Christina Mann, Taste Real Coordinator. The event highlights Guelph Wellington as an excellent food destination within Ontario, deeply rooted in agriculture and rich in creative and innovative farm and food businesses.
The awards, presented by OCTA in Toronto this month, celebrate the passion and excellence of those dedicated to advancing the culinary tourism movement in Ontario. They recognize the efforts of those who help promote farmers, chefs and beverage producers.
The Local Food Fest is a popular and growing event that features something for everyone. Visitors can take part in workshops offered through a partnership with Minga Skill Building Hub, to make cheese and bread, the finer points of canning, butchery, goat milking and fermenting. Patrons are also able to pick up fresh, local, healthy and delicious food, and local food industry professionals are able to use the Local Food Fest to network around food and agriculture.
Bob Desautels is the owner of the Woolwich Arrow Pub, Borealis Grille and Miijidaa Restaurant in Guelph. He has been a long time partner of Taste Real and the main Sponsor of the Local Food Fest for the past few years.
“As a restauranteur and business owner, I find this event invaluable for the opportunities it provides to promote local food, healthy eating, and celebrate our strong food community. The popularity of the event and growing attendance further proves that the interest in local food is not a fad -it is a permanent trend and it is here to stay.”
October 2013 – Taste Real has been given national honours by the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC) with the award for Brand Identity. A local food initiative developed to support local businesses, farms and producers, Taste Real has continued to build on its brand since its inception in 2009.
“We are so honoured to be given top recognition in Canada. The Taste Real partners have worked so hard,” noted Deb Dalziel, Elora Fergus Tourism co-ordinator and a founding partner of Taste Real. “We are excited that EDAC has recognized the wonderful collaborative effort of our stakeholders across the region.”
Along with this prestigious award, Taste Real was also a recipient of the 2012 Economic Development Council of Ontario (EDCO) Product Development Award and the Ontario Culinary Tourism 2012 Leadership Award. “The success of Taste Real lies in the partnerships that have been created within our region. We work with farmers, food service businesses, other community organizations as well as the individual municipalities. Our partners understand that we all need to support each other to promote and showcase the rich bounty of food that is grown and prepared in Guelph and Wellington County,” says Christina Mann, Taste Real Co-ordinator.
Taste Real’s mission 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. Their highly successful consumer events and partner programmes (Source it Here, Wellington Rural Romp, Local Food Fest, Field Dinner and more), have shown the benefit of moving Taste • Real to the next level.
Taste Real is administered by the County of Wellington and has developed strong ties with 8 municipal strategic partners (The City of Guelph, Elora-Fergus Tourism, Township of Guelph Eramosa, Town of Erin, Township of Mapleton, Town of Minto and the Township of Wellington North), institutional partners (University of Guelph,The Food School and the Guelph Community Health Centre), and 6 regional farmers’ markets.
To date, over 120 businesses and stakeholders are paying partners of the Taste Real Programme and actively use the brand to promote their products and services. Thanks to these partnerships and an effective marketing and advertising campaign, today the Taste Real brand and logo are synonymous with quality local food.
In February 2013, some councillors and staff from across Wellington County attended the 56th annual Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) conference, which was held in London Ontario this year. EDCO is known as being the most relevant and densely‐packed provincial forum for education and networking available to economic development practitioners.
Guelph Wellington received provincial recognition for its work with the Taste Real Guelph Wellington Local Food Initiative at the Conference Closing Gala as part of the 2012 Awards of Excellence. Taste Real’s mission is to grow one of the most vibrant, local food economies and tourism destinations in Ontario.
As a collective of the municipalities and the County, the City, the University of Guelph and stemming from its founding member the Guelph Community Health Centre, we are very proud and excited to be receiving this award. That evening, Taste Real was recognized under the ‘Product Development’ category of awards.
Taste Real is a made in Wellington project. At its core it is about growing the regional agri-food sector by creating business to business opportunities via tradeshow and training events and promoting the region’s assets.
Taste Real quickly grew in terms of partnership numbers and has received accolades bringing Wellington attention from the province, which on top of the EDCO award includes the prestigious Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance 2012 Leadership Award. The programme currently has 124 (2012) partners, with 71% of them operating within Wellington. Taste Real connects restaurateurs, growers, producers and processors and has been working to develop the value chain for our agri-food sector.
So what does the EDCO award mean to us? Once again, people across the province, whether they write for magazines and want to share the story about what’s going on in Wellington or a chef in Toronto heard about Taste Real and wants to know how he can source from a mushroom farmer in our community – we are putting Wellington on the map. The EDCO award is a very prestigious one and we are grateful for how well our partnership works, grateful for County Council’s supporting the Taste Real initiative and we are grateful for the wonderful agri-food community we have that has believed in this project from conception.
The award, presented to a community or organization that has taken on a leadership role in promoting culinary tourism in Ontario, was presented at the 8th Ontario Tourism Summit held in London from October 22 to 24, 2012.
Over the past years, Taste Real has supported local farms, producers and small businesses to build stronger rural communities. It’s mission is to grow one of the most vibrant local food economies and tourism destinations in Ontario.
The Taste Real programme has over 120 partners including six founding partners that steer the strategic development of the programme. Municipal partners include the County of Wellington, City of Guelph, the Township of Centre Wellington, the Town of Minto, the Township of Wellington North and the Township of Mapleton.
Developed on stakeholder engagement, Taste Real is built upon many successes of promoting local food that have taken place across the region, including the work originally started by Guelph Wellington Local Food at the Guelph Community Health Centre, under the leadership of Kate Vsetula.