locally produced

Auberge de Jeunesse de Namur - local hot spot for outdoor activities and sustainability supporters

The youth hostel in Namur, Belgium offers both guests and locals many opportunities to discover the surrounding natural areas and enjoy local products and services. 

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Auberge de Jeunesse de Namur, Green Key awarded since December 2012, cooperates with many different local stakeholders to offer their guests and also local residents the opportunity to enjoy the natural areas in and around Namur and to buy local products.

Together with the local organisation Empreinte the hostel develops and promotes nature and environmental education tours with the objective of promoting outdoor activities among children and adolescents and of raising awareness about different aspects of the urban environment. Furthermore, the hostel cooperates with Pro Velo, an NGO promoting bicycling and bicycle tours. Guests can rent bikes directly at the hostel and get plenty of ideas for cycling routes right at the reception. 

After spending the day in the outdoors, guests can enjoy a local beer or wine at the bar of the hostel. The establishment is in close cooperation with the local breweries and in general tries to offer as many local products as possible.

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Moreover, the hostel has a collaboration with Paysans Artisans, an association of local farmers. Residents can order organic "food boxes" once a week from the local farmers which are then available for pick up at the youth hostel. In addition, the hostel organises an organic food market twice a year where the products of the Paysans Artisans and of other local producers are being sold.

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The local products that make your restaurant a really different experience

Do you use the local food as a marketing tool to promote your restaurant? Taking advantage of regional produce and products will add to a visitor’s experience and will place your restaurant as a ‘must visit’ in your region. For visitors to your area, sampling local produce is as much a part of the visitors' experience as seeing the sights.

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Diners’ expectations have shifted

In the past, local and visiting diners would search out exotic ingredients and meals. Local products were for home, not dining out, and certainly not a priority. Restaurants made names for themselves on providing diners with meals full of imported ingredients. A couple of big shifts have reversed this, with people now placing a higher value on local products.

One of these shifts is an increased understanding of the environmental impacts of producing food. After years of excessive monocultures, breeds inherently belonging to a given ecosystem have been gradually reintroduced. Protecting biodiversity has become a well-known necessity which can be noticed with the reappearance of some ‘forgotten’ varieties which used to be grown in the area. As a result, more local specialities can be found in the menus, which is also advantageous for the local economy.

Another shift is because of the ease of travel. In the past, there was very little chance of many people travelling to the source of exotic ingredients, so the restaurant industry was responsible for introducing new flavours and cooking styles to local customers. Now, many people would prefer to have meals based on typical local ingredients of the area they visit.

What local products can you offer your guests?

What is the focus in your local area? Does it form part of your restaurant experience? This depends on your region. Some areas have obvious links to produce and any restaurant would be ill-advised to ignore them. A prime example is Tuscany – could you imagine going to a restaurant in Tuscany and having Australian wine on the menu?

There are many regions which have signature products and have built their tourism on promoting these products. But there are also many areas which do not have a defining food industry. Where do you start then, to promote local produce to your restaurant guests?

An easy place to start is to remove imported bottled water from your menu, instead offering local spring, filtered or tap water.

Another great start is to look at your menu. Do you have seasonal menus with local products? Do you clearly display the regional certifications and logos guaranteeing that the product has been grown and harvested in harmony with nature?

Help is available

There are a number of organisations in Europe that will help restaurant owners by putting them in touch with local producers. If you are in the UK, Sustainweb can help. Across Europe, Slow Food can help with local information. Many areas also have regional food groups, which can be great sources of information and assistance.

However, remember that sometimes local does not mean eco-friendly. If the product has to be grown in heavily heated greenhouses, it may mean that it does more harm than actually transporting it from its original place! So do not go extreme in sourcing all your menu with local products. Keeping some imported goods on your menu because you know they are more environmentally friendly is actually a sign of environmental maturity.

It is good to add information to your menu about your providers and showcase the labels and certifications your food has been awarded. It is a way of educating your diners about the environmental impacts of food and promote the local products which are truly beneficial for your region. It is a sign you support local farmers and producers and care for the environment.

Shifting to local products in your restaurant can have so many benefits…linking farmers with diners in the fewest possible steps, promoting local strengths and promoting your restaurant as an environmental leader and valued contributor to the success of your region.

Spread the news

Educating your staff on local products, and any stories surrounding the source of the products they can share will engage your diners with the movement of food from farm to plate. Inform them that not only ‘food miles’ matter (i.e. the distance the food is transported) but the conditions in which the food is produced. They should feel proud of supporting agricultural practices that preserve biodiversity and minimise emissions to water and air, as well as respecting the seasons of each type of product. And when these can be coupled with local production, even better.

Source: Takeagreenstep.eu

 

Commitment to the surrounding communities at Alaya Tulum

Alaya Tulum Hotel in Mexico shows a strong commitment to the surrounding communities by creating employment opportunities and by promoting sustainable development among the local region.

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Alaya Tulum participated in the Green Key Best Practice Competition 2017 organized earlier this year with the theme “partnership and local engagement for sustainable development”. In January 2017, the hotel established a partnership with a family business of one of the employees at the hotel. The business is a 3 hectare organic farm called ‘Lemons’ 150 km from Tulum and it provides produce exclusively for Alaya Tulum Hotel. Through its operation, the farm provides work for a family of 4 people.

The sustainable production entails a better way of using existing resources at the farm, it promotes recycling of nutrients and helps improve the soil.  Organic production is based on the integration of practices of tilling the field, which includes a great amount of labour. This generates employment in the same area or region and prevents leakage of foreign exchange in the procurement of external inputs.  

There are several benefits of organic farming, which include:

  • No use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers
  • The produce has a flavor, color and aroma of the highest quality
  • The produce contains more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

The locally produced products also help in preventing global warming, as the transportation lengths are minimized and by purchasing produce from the farm, Alaya Tulum supports the local economy.

Through their established partnership, the farm delivers produce to the hotel 3 times a week. The produce and amounts (per month) include:

  • 2000 pieces of coconut
  • 200 parts of pineapple
  • 160 kg lemons
  • 640 kg oranges
  • 20 kg dragon fruit
  • 12 kg habanero chili

The goal of Alaya Tulum is to maintain the relationship with the family business and to start working with new suppliers in order to increase the variety of products and the number of deliveries to the hotel. The hotel also want to offer more new and healthy dishes on their menu. In addition to their existing partnership, the hotel also encourages the use of organic, fair trade- labelled, ecolabelled and locally produced products when purchasing.