WINGHAM – There’s a new option for locally-grown products, combining the freshness of the farm with the convenience shopping in town.
Homegrown Food Basket opened in December, after co-founders David Scherpenzeel and Jef McPherson wanted to expand the online farmer’s market to a physical storefront.
“We wanted to try taking it to the next level, and getting more presence,” Scherpenzeel said. “We started looking at some different locations and Wingham was selected for a couple reasons.”
Wingham was a natural place for Homegrown Food Basket to grow, as Scherpenzeel was familiar with the community growing up in Fordwich, and Wingham was one of the most underserved communities in area for local products, according to Scherpenzeel. When a location on Josephine Street became available, both partners took a look at the space and felt it was a perfect fit.
“I think we had signed the lease within a couple days, it moved pretty quickly,” Scherpenzeel said. “We came in and it felt right, so we decided to move ahead with it.”
Homegrown Food Basket aims to provide better access to locally-made products for consumers, with a wide range of products sourced directly from southwestern Ontario farmers. Coming from a farming family himself, Scherpenzeel understands the importance of getting a fair price for produce.
“Our main goal is to make it possible for the community to find as many of their grocery options from a local source they possibly can,” Scherpenzeel said. “I know how hard it can be for farmers to get their products out, and to be treated fairly in the market place.”
The store also features a selection of coffee supplied by Coastal Coffee from Goderich, and baked goods from Anna Mae’s Bakery and Restaurant in Millbank. A soup and sandwich lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. during regular hours, with the soups provided from Fresh Express in Gowanstown, and sandwiches made in house using local products.
“We do our best to source the condiments locally but some of them are more difficult,” Scherpenzeel said.
Scherpenzeel said there’s been a great response from the community so far, with many customers excited to see the business grow.
“We’ve barely got in half of the products we’re planning to carry, so I’m sure by the time we get everything in this space it’s going to be filled with anything local you can access,” he said.
All profits from the business are re-directed to the parent company Homegrown Land Bank Group Ltd., an agricultural development firm that assists farmers in becoming more financially and environmentally sustainable, both locally and internationally. With plans for more locations across the province, Scherpenzeel said the sky is the limit for potential.
“If it goes really well, we’ll definitely grow into a bigger space here in Wingham,” he said. “We plan to eventually grow into additional communities, our goal is to see a Homegrown Food Basket location available within every region of Ontario and beyond if possible.”
Homegrown Food Basket is located at 192 Josephine Street, and can be contacted at 519-357-1003, or www.homegrownfoodbasket.com. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m Tuesday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.