The Dryden Observer

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Local products making inroads, says Cloverbelt Co-Op

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

Greater collaboration opening new niches for Northwestern Ontario food 

Local food is taking center stage as Cloverbelt Local Food Co-operative releases their draft regional food charter, and local organizations take notice. B & B’s Roadhouse in Dryden has jumped on board and transitioned their breakfast menu to include local ingredients. Customer Raymond Nadeau was excited to discover what he calls “positive changes to the local culinary scene” when he visited from Thunder Bay. Conversations have begun with local grocers to offer a seasonal display of local produce. Fort Vermillion will be reopening this spring under new ownership, and Natalie Welniak has announced that the new restaurant will be focused on serving regional foods. 

“Northwestern Ontario is a beautiful place to live, and when we think of our area, we think of things like blueberries, and walleye, and local farms. We want to offer our guests a taste of what our region represents,” said Welniak.

New hubs are opening in Red Lake and Fort Frances at the end of March, all thanks to Loudon Bros. Wholesale, who will transport local goods, and the Greenbelt Fund that supported Cloverbelt’s expansion and food charter project

“More and more of our clients are demanding local products, and we are happy to oblige. As a family operated business based in Thunder Bay, supporting local farms and businesses in our region is important to us,” said Murray Gleeson, Vice President of Loudon Bros.  “This is an exciting opportunity for us to expand our local product selection.”

Dryden’s Economic Development Manager Tyler Peacock also sees the value in these collaborations, and is eager to support initiatives that support small business development. 

“I love seeing these innovative opportunities develop,” said Peacock. “It shows how the market is changing and how we as a community can adapt to that change, and work together to provide more local options to our consumers in an age where more and more consumers want to know where their food comes from! Farming is a big part of the origin of Dryden. If we can support attraction to our restaurants and stores, while simultaneously helping our local farms to grow, then I’m on board.”

The initiative won’t stop here. The Dryden District Chamber of Commerce is organizing a meeting to bring together area restaurants to talk about additional opportunities to collaboratively market what Dryden has to offer in early April. Local Food & Farm Co-ops, Loudon Bros. Wholesale and the Beef Farmers of Ontario are also working on a project to develop and market a brand exclusive to Northwestern Ontario beef farmers. 

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