Nfld. & Labrador

Turning Newfoundland's southwest coast into an agricultural tourism destination

"We're hoping to tap into that sort of new push for this sort of environmental tourism."

'We're hoping to tap into that sort of new push for this sort of environmental tourism'

Can the southwest coast of Newfoundland be turned into an agritourism destination? A team of Memorial University researchers wants to find out. (Andrea Ratuski)

A team of researchers are trying to find a way to keep tourists on Newfoundland's southwest coast, by exploring what kind of agricultural tourism can be developed in communities.

Bonnie White is lead for the feasibility for the Southwest Coast Food Loop project, which is looking for ways to keep the thousands of tourists who get off the Marine Atlantic ferries in Port aux Basques in the region for a little while.

"What we'd like to do is draw people out of Port aux Basques and into the areas from North Branch to La Poile, and we'd like to use the things that they already have in these communities in order to draw those tourists in," she said.

We're hoping to tap into that sort of new push for this sort of environmental tourism.- Bonnie White

"Our idea is not just tourism, but actual food sustainability and food security — for not just the southwest coast, but all of Newfoundland."

White said it's not necessarily about what the southwest coast has to offer that the rest of the province doesn't, but it is a unique area.

"It's a connection point with the mainland and it is also a fishing and agricultural centre that offers the potential to create the food loop," she told CBC's On The Go.

"For example, if you take a fishing village in one area and you have a farm in another area, then what you could do is use the waste of one community to support the other community without having to import or export. That's the idea that we're kind of working with."

More rural-based tourism experiences

There are sea- and farm-to-table agritourism initiatives in other parts of Canada already, White said, pointing to models in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

"People are increasingly looking for destinations that allow them to connect with nature, that allow them to get back to sort of a more rural-based tourism," White said.

Bonnie White, Roza Tchoukaleyska and Raymond Thomas are leading the research team for Grenfell's Southwest Coast Food Loop project. (Memorial University)

"We're hoping to tap into that sort of new push for this sort of environmental tourism."

For the next steps, White, along with her fellow project researchers at Grenfell, Roza Tchoukaleyska and Raymond Thomas, is planning a meeting session with community members in May.

"What we hope to do in this day-and-a-half meeting is to have community members come together so that we can identify what the resources are that we have to work with, what interest there might be in these various communities in the southwest coast, and put them together to design a tool kit," she said.

"So how can be mobilize, how can we use what's already there to enhance the economic possibilities of the region?"

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go


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