Geoff Lewis of Tendertips Asparagus had long wanted to showcase the produce from the Horowhenua for many years, and in 2016 met with Kristy McGregor, who similarly had identified the potential for an event. Other partners were gathered around the table, and in three short months the first event was held, celebrating the local produce.
“The Horowhenua Taste Trail is really about celebrating the variety and quality of food producers in the Horowhenua, along with fostering community pride in local producers and our district,” says Antony Young, Chair of the Horowhenua Taste Trail Trust.
The 2017 Horowhenua Taste Trail was about consolidating all of the unique aspects of the event and creating new opportunities. The hero event was still the Taste Trail itself, however other events included a ticketed cocktail party catered for by Ruth Pretty at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, a breakfast at the Tendertips Asparagus Packhouse by the Little White Rabbit, and an Indian Vegetarian Cooking Class with Woodhaven Gardens produce.
A competition with four local cafes featuring Horowhenua produce on their menus, held in the lead up to the event was extremely well received. The Committee also ran a Horowhenua Christmas Produce Box initiative, so people could enjoy Horowhenua produce over the New Year.
“We feel that we took our event to the next level and in all, over 1660 people attended our events last year. In addition to that, we estimate over half a million people outside of the region were exposed to the media coverage of the event” says Antony.
“Our profile has risen and people are talking about all of the amazing produce Horowhenua has to offer!”
The event itself relies on the support of its volunteers, of which there are over 60 – from the Board of Trustees and volunteer committee, students from the local colleges cooking departments, and local community groups who provide volunteers on the gates, through to a partnership with Altrusa International of Levin who, for both events, have looked after the information stalls at each site.
“We are so fortunate to have such a supportive wider community who have really come on board in great numbers,” says Antony.
“We’ve got so many ideas for how the event can grow, and the community are continually sharing with us ideas they have, which is fabulous.”
Antony and the team are looking at ways to build on the event for 2018.
“There is an opportunity to expand on the ‘taster’ events run alongside the Trail, offering people in-depth opportunities to experience behind the scenes with our producers,” he says.
“In saying that we have so many ideas, so watch this space!”
Antony believes the Horowhenua District has so much to offer, with incredible physical beauty, and cultural and social assets in the people who live there and the produce that is created.
“The Horowhenua Taste Trail has uncovered little initiatives happening down back roads and in unsuspecting factories in Levin,” he says.
“We get to show people these surprises and that is really exciting.”
“We’re fortunate to be in a district and a region that is in an exciting phase of growth, is looking forward to the future and is asking how food and innovation will be part of that future.”
If you want to find out more about the Horowhenua Taste Trail visit www.tastetrail.co.nz to keep up to date.