Farmers, restaurateurs working to turn north Simcoe into culinary destination

Farm2Door, a collaboration of north Simcoe farmers and producers, is launching a wholesale service in order to better connect local growers with local restaurants.

The new service is an expansion of the online food-delivery service and retail store created by Evain Maurice of BelleRoots Farms and Bart Nagel of Bulbs of Fire Garlic.

Currently, residents can visit northsimcoe.farm2door.ca or the storefront at 159 Balm Beach Rd. E. in Tiny township and purchase products from more than 90 local producers.

They offer fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, eggs, baked goods, preserves, syrup, honey, drinks, nuts, chips and more. The vast majority of products are sourced from within a 100-kilometre radius.

After analyzing what they were selling, Maurice and Nagel began to rack their brains as to how they could sell more vegetables.

“It’s not to say that we were struggling to sell vegetables, but in terms of what we were moving and what our farmers were growing, there was a need,” said Maurice. “We thought restaurants could fill that need.”

While many local farmers would love to be able to sell their produce to local restaurants, most just don’t have the time or ability to do it on their own. The same goes for the restaurateurs, who don’t have the time to stop off at three or four different farms to pick up the fresh produce they need each week.

“There is no business case for myself, a farmer, if I have to dive into town to sell three pounds of garlic to one restaurant,” said Nagel. “But there is if I am bringing 30 pounds of garlic to Farm2Door because they are supplying 15 restaurants.

“The workload on the farmer drops, while the order volume increases, and the workload on the restaurateur drops because now he can get everything local from one stop,” he added.

With Farm2Door setting up a wholesale food hub and acting as the facilitator between farmers and restaurants simplifies the process and allows it to be worthwhile for all.

“It is really a perfect solution,” said Maurice. “We are excited to fix that gap and see if we can make Midland a food destination.”

The organization has partnered up with Simcoe County Tourism to market and promote the new partnerships that are about to form.

“The trend for local food and tourism has grown exponentially since the COVID-19 pandemic started,” said Brittany Black, an experience development co-ordinator with Tourism Simcoe County.

“Consumers really want that story behind the dish. It’s not just a typical meal if they know it is connected to a farmer down the road. It makes it a memorable experience for them, which in turn, brings them back for more.”

To promote the initiative, Black will help create videos featuring participating restaurants, their unique menu items and the farmer supplying the local food.

Farm2Door expects to have 10 to 20 local growers and farms on board with the program, and is in the midst of securing partnerships with local restaurants. Promotions will roll out once six restaurants are on board.

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