Official Opening of the Chefs’ Forum Food Distribution Hub

Chair of Grey County Chefs’ Forum Charmaine Peever and MPP Bill Walker standing behind Chefs’ Forum board member Linda Reader and MP Larry Miller at official opening of the Chefs’ Forum Food Distribution Hub in Flesherton.

Chair of Grey County Chefs’ Forum Charmaine Peever and MPP Bill Walker standing behind Chefs’ Forum board member Linda Reader and MP Larry Miller at official opening of the Chefs’ Forum Food Distribution Hub in Flesherton.

Farmers, chefs and local dignitaries gathered yesterday for the official opening of the Chefs’ Forum Food Distribution Hub in Flesherton.

‘Everyone had a great time. They were as proud as we were,’ says Chefs’ Forum board member Linda Reader. ‘It was very rewarding for all who worked hard to get this all together.’

The Food Distribution Hub is a transshipment point between local farms who are members of the Chefs’ Forum and commercial buyers. Food will be picked up from area farmers twice a week for distribution locally, as well as into the Greater Toronto Area.

Over 60 people were in attendance at the Flesherton facility. Speeches were given by Brendan Wylie-Toal from the Greenbelt Fund, MP Larry Miller, MPP Bill Walker, Grey County Warden Brian Milne and new Grey County CAO Derik Brandt.

‘They were very supportive,’ says Reader. ‘They hit the right notes about it being good for farmers. Miller was a farmer, so he knows you need help to get products to market.’

                                   ‘This is a volunteer driven situation,’ says Peever. ‘It’s an ideal example of what can happen when grassroots and local boards work together.’  ‘We were very pleased with the support we received,’ says Charmaine Peever, Chair of Grey County Chefs’ Forum.

Former vice-president of the then Markdale Chamber of Commerce, Peever’s involvement began in 2009 with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Peever says that they were one of the few communities in Ontario that did the agricultural sector in a BR&E study with the ministry because ‘the agricultural sector is an important part of our community.’

Peever says the study showed that local farmers needed the ‘ability to increase their market to sell a lot a one time.’

In early 2012, the Grey Highlands Chamber of Commerce partnered with Reader and the early version of the Chefs’ Forum to apply for an Ontario Trillium Grant to develop a distribution hub to help local farmers, which they received.

“This is a volunteer driven situation,’ says Peever. ‘It’s an ideal example of what can happen when grassroots and local boards work together.’

‘We are pleased to support the development of this much-needed facility,’ says Grey County Economic Development Officer for Local Food, Philly Markowitz in a news release. “The Chefs’ Forum distribution hub in Flesherton is ideally situated to help local producers meet the needs of buyers in the GTA, and ultimately, to provide products to local buyers.”

‘Most of the food that was served was donated by our farmers and cooked up by our neighbours, the Village Greens Café,’ says Reader. ‘It was really wonderful to see people eating and sitting together.’

Pat McNeil, owner Ganderglenelg Farm which has been in operations since 2010 and grows heritage potatoes.

Pat McNeil, owner Ganderglenelg Farm which has been in operations since 2010 and grows heritage potatoes.

The Chefs’ Forum is ‘very relevant to (the agriculture) business because it connects you with the chefs, so that you can have the ability to sell produces,’ says Ganderglenelg Farm owner Pat McNeil. ‘You have the opportunity to network with the other producers as well.’

Reader says that helping farmers and chefs network is one of the goals of the Chefs’ Forum. An example of this was at the opening of Food Distribution Hub, where she saw one chef from The Munshaws Bistro ‘making contacts and getting food for his menu.’

‘This is cutting edge. I believe that we’re the only group doing this in Ontario,’ says Peever. ‘Don’t know what’s in the future, but the sky’s the limit.’

Chefs and buyers can register for free to see what is available locally from Grey County farmers at www.greycountychefsforum.ca The facility is located at 774310 Highway ten just north of Flesherton.

 

 

 

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