Saskatchewan

Food loop will promote locally grown goods near Osler, Sask.

Farmers in the Osler area of Saskatchewan, north of Saskatoon, are working on a shopping concept, dubbed a food loop, that promotes locally grown goods.

Farmers north of Saskatoon hope to attract customers for locally grown goods

Farmers near Saskatoon are working together to provide more options for people venturing out of the city looking for locally grown produce. (CBC)

Farmers in the Osler area of Saskatchewan, north of Saskatoon, are working on a rural shopping concept, dubbed a food loop, that promotes locally grown goods.

Melanie Boldt, co-owner of Pine View Farms, is one of the producers behind the idea.

"A food loop, or a food hub as we like to call it, is just a network of farmers who are working together to market their products," Boldt explained.

The simple pleasures in life are the things people are really craving.- Melanie Boldt

One goal is to provide people from the city with more food options for an out of town trip.

"Attract people out of the city," she said. "Give them another reason to escape the grocery store and head out to the country and shop at more than one place while they're out there."

Boldt said one of the challenges for farmers is finding time to market their goods. By working together, she said, they can build some useful tools to reach consumers, including websites and brochures.

The farms, she added, market all sorts of food including meats, vegetables and fruits.

There are also farmers in the area who produce honey and pasta.

Network may grow

"There's all kinds of things and we're really hoping that, as word gets out, the network will grow," she said. "There's probably other people doing things we don't even know about yet."

Boldt said farmers benefit from having more customers and consumers benefit by learning about more places to shop.

"We hear, from our customers, that they don't know where to go to source local food," Boldt said. "So, we need to make it easier for them to find us."

The farmers are working with the town of Osler to appear on that community's website. They are also involved with the local rural municipality and the Saskatoon Food Council.

"We're only 15 minutes north of Saskatoon," Boldt said. "So it's not hard to grab a latté, pack the kids in [the car] and go tour an orchard. Pick fresh strawberries and learn how bees pollinate flowers."

So far, she said, there has been a lot of brainstorming on different ways they can reach consumers — from using websites to creating signs and maps — and more work will be done through the coming winter.

"We, as farmers, have to prepare our yards and farm sites," she said. "Some of us already have stores and do tours. Others don't. So we have to figure out what strength each person can bring and then also publish that as part of the food loop, or food tour."

They hope to launch in 2017.

"The simple pleasures in life are the things people are really craving," Boldt said. "We're hoping we can provide a little bit of that."

With files from CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition