It was all positive news at the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market growers meeting held here last Tuesday (Feb. 15).
More than two dozen local growers heard about the local food box program co-ordinated by the farmers’ market.
Serving a variety of communities in Northwestern Ontario, the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market purchases locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and other food products and then distributes them throughout the Rainy River and Kenora districts as part of a monthly food box program.
The food box program is an economic development success story in the making.
Donna Lowey, from Lowey’s Market Garden and Greenhouse here, reported the number of local growers supplying the box increased by 17 percent over 2009, dollars paid to local producers increased by 48 percent over 2009, and the number of different local products sold into the box increased from 30 to 45.
With the introduction of a new smaller box for $15, it’s anticipated the number of local products needed for the program will continue to increase.
The guest speaker for last Tuesday’s meeting was Kevin Belluz from Belluz Farm in Thunder Bay, who spoke about the successes on his fruit and vegetable farm, as well as the culture of the local foods movement.
He indicated there is an inverse relationship between shelf life and flavour when it comes to fruits and vegetables–as the shelf life increases, the flavour decreases.
That’s why consumers should try to purchase as many locally-grown products as possible.
He gave the CVFM’s food box program high marks for working to make local food accessible to consumers since many large grocery chains often don’t carry local foods.
Belluz also talked about his venture into an online store to market local foods, and about incorporating social media such as Facebook and Twitter into his marketing activities.
On a final note, Belluz was selected by the Thunder Bay Slow Food movement to attend the Terra Madre Slow Food conference in Torino, Italy, which is held every two years and attracts 6,000 delegates from 136 countries.
Belluz noted it was one of the largest local foods conferences in the world, with all presentations being translated into 12 different languages.
The Slow Food Movement promotes biodiversity while trying to preserve and protect heritage food varieties from around the world.