/Food tourism co-ordinator keeping it local
Lila Sweet is the food tourism co-ordaintor for the County of Haliburton. /CHAD INGRAM Staff

Food tourism co-ordinator keeping it local

By Chad Ingram

Published Dec. 24, 2018 




County’s food tourism co-ordinator is preaching the power of keeping it
local as she goes about creating a food supply chain in the county that
pairs producers with purveyors. 


Sweet was recently hired to the position, which at this point is a
three-month contract, and which the county is hoping to extend through
attaining more grant funding. 


“I also
see myself as a stakeholder, and I have gone ahead and laid down, or
tried to lay down, some infrastructure that will hopefully continue
beyond my term,” says Sweet, who runs a catering business. 

infrastructure is human infrastructure, and Sweet has been trying to
establish connections between local food producers and businesses, as
well as educating stakeholders about the benefits and popularity of
local food and culinary tourism.  


recent years, food tourism has exploded in Ontario, and many travelling
consumers relish the experience of locally produced food, unique to the
areas they are visiting. 

“They are
educated foodies,” Sweet says, noting that a third of all tourism
dollars are spent on food. “We have what they are looking for. We have
the real deal up here. There are incredible producers.” 

has created a business-to-business Facebook page “that allows direct
conversation and collaboration and education,” she says. “One of the
projects is to encourage collaboration in the off-season.” 


has also organized a series of events, featuring food and music,
designed to bring stakeholders in the culinary industry together. 

“I have some events that are really community-building events, it’s all about making connections,” she says. 

Sweet has also been working to achieve some consistency around the way local food experiences are offered. 

order to have the county appear more as a whole, I’m looking at linking
up different offerings from different areas, and giving tourists a more
holistic experience,” she says. 


Sweet has also been encouraging more collaboration by and cross promotion of businesses. 

is a bit of an air of competition, that’s been identified as one of our
challenges up here, and it’s my belief that that’s because, generally,
with the seasonality . . . people are on the edge,” she says. 

“The timing is right now for the conversation,” she says, of the stakeholder network she is trying to create. 

has been conducting a survey of local culinary businesses through
in-person interviews regarding the extension of the shoulder season, and
the creation of a labour pool, “so there’s a platform where employers
and employees can reach out to one another for needs.” 

uses the example of herself as a caterer. Perhaps she is doing an event
where she requires 20 people to help serve. The creation of a labour
pool could help address such needs. 


has other ideas too, such as the creation of public food gardens within
the county’s communities, where vegetables and herbs could be grown,
and picked by anyone passing by. 

want kids to walk by every day and see the different stages of growth,”
she says, explaining that such gardens can come with a coloured signage
system – red for not ready, yellow for almost ready, and green for ready
to pick. 


Sweet has a few more events
planned for January. On Jan. 17 at Abbey Retreat she will host an event
featuring a local, pop-up food provider, live music and the screening of
a TED talk on vegetable tourism. That event is from 5 to 7 p.m. 

Monday, Jan. 28, there will be a chef/producer meet and greet and
beer-tasting at Rhubarb in Carnarvon, that event also from 5 to 7 p.m.
Sweet is also working on a tourism event for this winter’s Frost Fest.