As Leitrim’s food producers and places to eat prepare for 2017, Local Enterprise Office Leitrim & Leitrim County Council have commissioned a fresh & innovative review of the food sector leading to the Preparation of a “Food Strategy 2017- 2021” for County Leitrim. The news comes as Leitrim County Council were recently awarded REDZ funding of €200,000 to invest in food tourism projects in Leitrim in 2017. A number of engaging projects planned include festival investments, a new Taste Leitrim food experience and new marketing campaign, a shared distribution project & community education projects.
The feedback of the trade is absolutely vital to the formation of the Plan. Two important consultation workshops are planned and those with an interest in food and food tourism, community food and education are invited to attend on either Thursday the 19th of January at 4.30 pm at the Landmark Hotel or on Wednesday the 1st of February at 4.30 pm the Organic Centre, Rossinver, County Leitrim.
The food and food tourism sector is a vital component of the local economy in Leitrim. The recent Taste Leitrim project established the county as a ‘must visit’ food destination. ‘Leitrim may be Ireland’s smallest populated county but we certainly pack a culinary punch.’ Frank Curran, LCC CEO, Leitrim County Council explains “the development of initiatives such as the Taste Leitrim with its county wide focus and our micro enterprises are powerful economic drivers within the county. Leitrim is known for its clean, outdoor living and supporting lifelong learning though continuing education. It is recognised at strategic level that there is considerable potential for Leitrim’s food sector if it is progressed in a planned, timely & innovative way. Our securement of significant REDZ funding gives us the resources to really progress the sector in 2017”.
Joe Lowe, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office outlines the context of the new Plan, ”The Food Hub, Drumshanbo, The Organic Centre, initiatives such as “Taste Leitrim” & Leitrim’s recent award as a top 10 foodie destination 2016 has introduced the wider public to our fantastic producers, chefs, food entrepreneurs, distillers, brewers, baristas and farmers. Our local food economy & our food education programme is a driving force for rural regeneration & connectivity and can make our towns & villages come alive & be more attractive to live in! Amazing slow food events and farm to fork ethos is not just a catchphrase in Leitrim, it is a way of doing business and standing out from the crowd”.
Orla Casey of Momentum Consulting explains that “It is clear that a decade of food industry focus in County Leitrim has brought the culinary sector to a very exciting place. Pro active nurturing of local food companies through mentoring, training and grant aid support have led Leitrim in becoming a model of best practice within the food sector in Ireland. A number of forward thinking initiatives that stand out include:
- Continued focus on supporting our organics sector since the 1990’s.
- the Taste Leitrim food tourism project instigated in 2015 & our success in becoming a Top 10 Foodie Destination 2016 -in first year of applying
- The development of the Food Hub, Drumshanbo & exciting plans for more growth
However, there is a need to develop a more joined up approach which focuses on strengthening the current food initiatives that are ongoing within the county, drawing them together and initiating innovative activity where gaps and opportunities are presented looking outward to International best practice & bringing Leitrim’s gastro experiences & food to a much wider market. Speaking recently Oran Doherty of Regional Skills Forum described this as a great time to focus on food education and development and encourages links between small business & third level institutions- there is huge potential for young people to work in the wider hospitality and food sector and this will be of focus within the new Leitrim Food Strategy.
Those wishing to find out more can do so by contacting Momentum on 071 9623500 or by emailing email@example.com.