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Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust spotlights producers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust has released its first in a series of articles showcasing those who grow or make their products in the geopark as part of the development of a geogastronomy sector group. Articles will be able to be found on the WWG website: from this Friday, and on the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark’s Facebook page.

The first article is an introduction to Oamaru Organics, owned by James Porteous and run by Nigel Clark. Clark’s famous Jersey Benne potatoes are planted high on the near-30 hectare property just outside Oamaru to make the most of the limestone ‘electric blanket’ which protects them from frost. He firmly believes the geology of the area adds to the flavour: "People do say it tastes better, and there are a plenty of growers who would be jealous of this soil," says Clark.

Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust Chair and Mayor for Waitaki, Gary Kircher said, "There’s a lot to be said for local produce - usually due to freshness and helping local producers. In Waitaki, we have the bonus of producing some of the finest vegetables, wine, cheese and more, based on the quality of our soils. The Geopark branding is an ideal way for our producers to add value to their products!"

Whitestone Geopark General Manager and Waitaki District Council Economic Development Manager Gerard Quinn said, "We hope this will be a way to illustrate the amazing array of food that is produced in Waitaki and help link up the various offerings in the public’s mind. We want to encourage shoppers to fill their kete with products made here, as a sustainable way to support local business and help promote it to the wider world."

After two very successful workshops with local food producers held earlier this year confirmed there was an appetite for it, the idea of geogastronomy has caught on, with many of those who attended seeing it as a way to share marketing resources under the umbrella of the geopark, something which gives them a unifying brand.

The trust is helping growers and restaurateurs assemble a steering group to help support this industry-led initiative. "The geopark family is growing," said Quinn. "It’s great to see ‘salt of the earth’ community buy-in for what is literally a ground-up initiative. Makes us feel we are on solid foundations."

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