Hit­ting the taste trail Once again, the

Once again, the Horowhenua Taste Trail has proven its grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity with record num­bers at­tend­ing.

NZ Grower - - Contents - By Bar­bara Gill­ham Pho­tos by Ivor Earp-Jones

Horowhenua Taste Trail has proven its grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity with record num­bers at­tend­ing.

The Horowhen­u­aTaste Trail of­fers the pub­lic the op­por­tu­nity to meet lo­cal grow­ers, and sam­ple some of their de­li­cious fresh pro­duce.

This year 10 of Horowhenua’s spe­cial­ist food pro­duc­ers over eight sites, show­cased their wares in late Novem­ber, at­tract­ing more than 2000 food­ies from through­out New Zealand.

With more peo­ple want­ing to know how their food is pro­duced, grow­ers are able to pro­vide vis­i­tors with an in­sight into the di­verse va­ri­ety of foods that comes out what is of­ten de­scribed as the pro­duc­tion food bowl of the lower North Is­land.

This year Wood­haven Gar­dens, Lewis Farms, Turk’s, Ge­noese Pesto (with Thor­ough­bread Foods on site), Woody’s Free-Range Farm, Levin Eel Trad­ing, The Ul­ti­mate Egg and Ba­grie Farm (with The Baked Dane on site) all opened their doors to the pub­lic.

Now in its third year, the Horowhenua Taste Trail con­tin­ues to put the area on the map and is gain­ing real mo­men­tum as a show­case of spe­cial­ist food pro­duc­ers. Food­ies or fam­i­lies out for the day were able to see ev­ery­thing from in­ter­na­tional chefs pre­par­ing de­li­cious dishes to the SPCA ex­plain­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween free range and caged eggs. For the chil­dren a visit to the new straw­berry tun­nels at Lewis Farms, where they could en­joy fresh straw­berry ice cream was a must, as were the trac­tor rides at Wood­haven Gar­dens.

The Taste Trail be­gan in 2016, when Ge­off Lewis, the man­ag­ing direc­tor of Ten­der­tips As­para­gus near Levin and his daugh­ter in- law Cather­ine formed a com­mit­tee with other in­ter­ested par­ties, and devel­oped the event. The in­ten­tion was to show off the va­ri­ety of the lo­cal area’s prod­ucts, as well as their high qual­ity. At the time Ge­off said the aim was to share the re­gion’s story with peo­ple from out­side the area and to ul­ti­mately in­crease tourism and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment there.

Since then it has grown from a freeto-at­tend event, the com­mit­tee has be­come a char­i­ta­ble trust, and en­try is by ticket only. >

Five pro­duc­ers part­nered with cafes and res­tau­rants to pro­vide a de­li­cious of­fer­ing in­clud­ing taster plates and treats, small bites that could be pur­chased on the day.

This year’s event re­ally be­gan the night be­fore, with the Horowhenua Long Ta­ble Din­ner held at Te Tak­ere­tanga o Kura-hau-po, Levin. At the cock­tail event guests were able to en­joy a din­ner that show­cased the range and ex­cel­lence of lo­cal pro­duce, pre­pared by chef Tom Hutchi­son of Welling­ton culi­nary in­sti­tu­tion, Capi­tol Restau­rant. It was a rare op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a true ‘pad­dock to plate’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

At the week­end event the food of­fer­ing was en­hanced by vis­i­tors be­ing able to see not only how food was pro­duced but they could sam­ple it all in gourmet form. Five pro­duc­ers part­nered with cafes and res­tau­rants to pro­vide a de­li­cious of­fer­ing in­clud­ing taster plates and treats, small bites that could be pur­chased on the day.

Ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Cather­ine Lewis, said they wouldn’t be able to put the event on with­out the gen­er­ous sup­port of event part­ners, Rabobank, PGG Wright­son, Count­down, MG Mar­ket­ing, Horowhenua Dis­trict Coun­cil, Oji Fire So­lu­tions, BNZ, Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil, Elec­tra, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers, Fon­terra, HMC Levin, Hor­ti­cul­ture NZ, CS Law and Fluker Den­ton. Todd Char­teris, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Rabobank, now prin­ci­pal part­ner of the Horowhenua Taste Trail, said pro­duc­ers from the Horowhenua area fed NZ, Aus­tralia, Ja­pan, Bel­gium and the United States with high qual­ity pro­duce – “an in­cred­i­ble feat for a dis­trict with a pop­u­la­tion of just over 33,000”.

Feed­back from vis­i­tors was over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive, and and or­gan­is­ers are al­ready work­ing on next year’s event, some­thing Cather­ine said is only go­ing to be “big­ger and bet­ter”.

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