WELLINGTON COUNTY – This year’s Spring Rural Romp is taking a new approach to ensure that everyone can stay safe while discovering local farms and food businesses across the County of Wellington and Guelph.
Instead of a one day farm and food tour, Taste Real has created a list with tips on where to find, experience and engage around local foods in the region.
“We’ve put together a list of some farm tours and information about the educational component about food and agriculture so that individuals can still explore on their own time,” Christina Mann, Taste Real coordinator, explained.
Through the website, the community can explore over 180 places to shop for local foods, learn more about agriculture, discover local green houses and participate in virtual classes and activities.
This year’s event launched on Mother’s Day. While the event with run through the month of May, these resources will continue to be made available through the Wellington County website for public access.
“The topics don’t stop at the end of May, so it’s something that people can explore further down the road as well,” Mann said.
Mann added that Taste Real will be launching activities along the way so there will always be something new on the website.
As an added feature this year, Taste Real has partnered with the Guelph Box to bring Wellington County spring flavours to residents through the launch of their Rural Romp Box.
“So, it’s basically bringing the Rural Romp to the doorstop,” Mann explained. “Rather than heading out for it, you get it delivered to your doorstep.”
The box contains a selection of local food vendors from across Wellington County. People that purchase the box will get it delivered to their home on May 26. From each box purchased, $5 will be donated to Wellington County Food Banks.
Orders are on a first come first serve basis with free delivery to all addresses across Wellington County and Guelph.
Another new initiative this year is the launch of The Local Food Map Treasure Hunt.
“We’re going to be launching an activity which will be sort of a local food treasure hunt activity where families can order a package that contains a local food map,” Mann explained. “It contains a treasure hunt activity sheet and then it contains a pack of locally grown carrot feed to encourage people to start gardening.”
Mann noted that the online event loses the structured component for businesses. Under pre-pandemic circumstances, owners know visitors will be coming at a set time so they’re able to put out more activities to accommodate them.
“It loses that kind of connection piece that’s very relevant for many of the Rural Romp locations,” she said.
However, Mann added that from the public side, there is a benefit to running the event in a larger format in terms of time. Under the new format, families can plan a trip around what interests them and on whichever day or time works with their schedule.
“I think there are benefits to both but I think it certainly lost a little bit when it comes to the educational component,” Mann said. “It feels like less of an event and rather a month-long activity.”
Mann also explained that the pandemic opened people’s eyes to how fragile the food supply chain was.
“I think what people also realized is how much there is available right in our backyard, right in Wellington County, right in Ontario and I think that was a really good exercise, learning that food doesn’t just magically appear on our grocery shelves,” she said, noting that they’ve seen a large increase in the community’s support for local food.
“We understand that a lot of businesses are struggling across Ontario and also Wellington County,” she said. “I think making an effort to support our retailers, support our farmers, but also supporting businesses along the food value chain such as restaurants that are really hard hit by this pandemic is amazing and is necessary to keep our communities vibrant and delicious.”
For more information and a list of the 2021 Spring Rural Romp events, visit www.tastereal.ca.