This little van goes to market

One of the biggest challenges facing the local food movement is distribution – or how to best get produce from the fields and farms to area restaurants and home kitchens.

August 17, 2012 | | Back Issues

One of the biggest challenges facing the local food movement is distribution – or how to best get produce from the fields and farms to area restaurants and home kitchens. The renaissance of farmers’ markets in recent years has been a boon, both to growers and those of us who crave fresh, homegrown food. But, as effective as markets are for bringing producers and consumers together, any farmer will tell you how difficult it can be to take time out from the demands of planting and harvesting to make it to the weekly market. Likewise, restaurateurs find it difficult to tour farms to pick up the produce they need.

Stores such as Creemore’s 100 Mile Store bridge the producer-consumer gap by doing a lot of farm pickups themselves, and by providing a central drop-off for locally produced food. We wish there were more like it.

You may have seen the Grown in Peel map or the Dufferin Farm Fresh map, which offer detailed listings pinpointing the locations of the region’s farmer/producers. The new Dufferin map, brainchild of locavore Marci Lipman, also includes farmers’ markets and local-food committed restaurants and retailers. Both maps, and those in neighbouring counties, are invaluable aids in putting food lovers and farmers in touch.

Wonderful as these efforts are, they still involve a lot of driving around by people who have scarce time for the task. That’s why we’d like to tip our hat to Karen Hutchinson of Caledon Countryside Alliance and Bob Fines owner of Fines Ford Lincoln dealership in Bolton. Karen is always looking for ways to help producers distribute their products. She approached Bob and he generously agreed to arrange a short-term (six-month) lease on a brand new Ford Transit Connect van, allowing the CCA, with Eat Local Caledon, to launch a pilot project that will, in Karen’s words, “move the food system forward.”

In addition to delivering local produce to area restaurants, the van will ferry flour from K2 Milling’s Tottenham-area mill to the Inglewood and Caledon farmers’ markets. As well, Karen intends to make the van an integral part of the HAYville farm incubator program for area youth.

By helping distribute the program’s many food products prepared in the Palgrave Community Kitchen and grown at the Albion Hills Community Farm, Bob and Karen’s souped-up little van brings the dream of an integrated local food network one step closer to reality. And, as Karen points out, “It’s a great example of how non-profit and private partnerships can benefit us all.”

Herewith, the fall 2012 issue of Food In The Hills. Let us know what you think.

About the Author More by Cecily Ross

Former pony clubber and lifelong horse lover, Cecily Ross is a freelance writer who lives in Creemore.

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