Friday, 6 November 2015

Catering Kitchen is open for business

Most people know Ojo's for supporting Ancaster’s local food producers and cooking up duck fat fries in our vintage travel trailer, we are really chuffed to say that Ojo's is now a certified catering kitchen located at 1632 Wilson Street West beside Soldaat’s Poultry.

Small scale food production kitchens meet the same building and safety standards that are designed for industrial scale food processing this can financially burden a small start-up.  We decided to open up our kitchen as a shared space to other like-minded companies to help alleviate startup barriers for their good ideas supporting local food.
Anyone wanting to start a food business in the city of Hamilton has to comply with health and safety regulations and a big part of that is preparation in a certified and health inspected kitchen. 
Having Ojo’s in Ancaster’s west end provides an essential service for local entrepreneurs and food safety on the Hamilton mountain.
In addition to sharing the space we are busy planning a catering menu that will serve the local area, with pre-ordered soups and family friendly meals.  As new products are produced in the kitchen expect to find them for sale on the website.
Plan B Organic Farms also sees the need for this type of shared food hub and they have started using the space to prepare their next batch of kimchi, which we be available to purchase in addition to their weekly CSA shares.  Eat Industries located in the downtown Hamilton Farmers Market have also moved the slow roasting portion of their menu to the Ojo Kitchen.  
In addition to the kitchen the Ojo’s warehouse continues to support the Good Food Box program with monthly pick-ups in conjunction with the Wilson Street Farmers Market and Dundas in Transition.  Reserve your good food box online and check out the latest local products made with care in Ancaster. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

winter is coming as is urban sprawl

A cold and windy Saturday at the fair grounds was a stark reminder of the cold and windy days ahead, wind that blows hard across the farm lands surrounding the fair grounds and our little home across the road at ojo eat local.

But urban sprawl is upon us and is encroaching ever quicker.  Wilson Street remains crock a block with dozers and truckers and signs and road work, big box stores being built around crumbling historical buildings. 

The silver lining is the encroaching urban blight will shield the winds that race across the farmlands.

The west end of Ancaster is fast becoming the next Meadowlands, and we all sit and watch it happen, some with excited anticipation of being able to shop ever more convenient to stores that offer deep discounts on clothes and goods produced by hard labor in distant continents, and some with a solemn sadness that denotes and end to an era.

The business park is earmarked for expansion
As is Wilson Street
and the West End has it's own secondary plan
that's a lot of talk about a little slice of Ancaster, reminiscent of the days when the Meadowlands was just a developers dream come true

An interesting read that depicts the history of the Meadowlands was recently submitted as a thesis by Ancaster local Jeremy Parsons abstract and link below - take a moment give a read.

In an age of increasing urbanization, rural communities and agricultural lifestyles are quickly disappearing. Many local, pastoral histories have been buried under the new narratives of modern suburban development. Do such places, located along the rural-urban fringe, contain accounts worth memorializing? This thesis is a case study of the Ancaster Meadowlands—a growing neighbourhood within the City of Hamilton, Ontario. It explores the process of suburban growth and uncovers the local history of a landscape. As a narrative, the study traces land-use change over time, displaying the area’s evolution from a site of Neolithic settlement, to an important Loyalist village, and finally to a large suburban neighbourhood with commercial and residential components. Three principal methods are employed: resident interviewing, key informant interviewing, and archival research. Themes elicited in this study include land-use conflict, NIMBYism, real-estate volatility, and the interconnectedness of politicians and developers. Given that there are few case studies of contemporary suburban development, this study provides a rare illustration of the multi-faceted process of expansion around a Canadian city while also supplying a historical account of local importance.

Monday, 8 June 2015

2015-06-08 - Why don't we serve Heinz Ketchup?

Just a condiment – ubiquitous, in your fridge, in your friends fridge, in small plastic packages, big containers, small containers, seems every other week we are at the grocery store buying more ketchup.

Heinz sells more than 650 million bottles of ketchup per year, over 1.5 Billion dollars in ketchup sales, and recently merged with Kraft foods , The new company will be called The Kraft Heinz Company and will be the third-largest food and beverage company in North America with around $28 billion in annual revenue. It will have eight brands that each generates more than $1 billion a year in sales, including Heinz’s signature tomato ketchup.

The H.J. Heinz Company uses more tomatoes than any other company in the world. Over two million tons of tomatoes are processed every year and as a result Heinz used to employ 740 full time employees in Leamingon, Ontario , and support 43 tomato farms that supplied the Ontario plant. 

At Ojo’s we make our own ketchup, because we believe in shopping local – our business mandate is to only supply products defined as local food grown or produced in Ontario.  We keep working on our blends in small batches in hopes of making the perfect ketchup.

But for now sadly Heinz does not manufacture ketchup in Ontario.



Wednesday, 4 February 2015

2015-02-04 - Welcome to Ojo Shop Local

Dave and I have had the pleasure of attending the Greenbelts first ever Local Food Symposium this week, and now I sit at the Buffalo airport trying to digest all that we have learnt.  Also last week we sat in on the Food Summit talks hosted by the Hamilton Spectator, both really great experiences.

From the Hamilton event – I felt the pain of a new start up co-op kitchen called the Kitchen Collective, some young entrepreneur looking to build a shared kitchen space.  My heart went out to them as I heard their tales of being bounced from dept to dept at the city of Hamilton and the seemingly insurmountable about of certified information necessary before you begin you project.  Just that alone is enough to suck 10’s of thousands of dollars in engineering and design fees, and then of course when your project begins there are likely changes and you have to pay it again.   Mostly the Hamilton event talked about dysfunction, and I can attest to that.  We have given up looking for support from the city.

The Local Food Symposium was a real eye opener, and despite the city and zoning Dave and I are committed to the Farmers Market and Food Processing angle of our business plan, now does the Farmers Market have to be a traditional market, no it doesn’t, so we are in love with our new fledgling website  - we have created an online marketplace where busy people can shop local, and then pickup at the Wilson Street Farmers market  or the Ojo Food Hub – what ever you want to call it we will still have community events, and they will be fun.

So the new website our first complete product offering is the Soldaat Poultry line – we now have every item in the computer to order by the pound.  If you have ever wished Soldaats would be open late – now it is if you pick it up Friday nights.   Frozen Meat Pies from itty Bitty Pie Company are also readily available for purchase and pick up.  We have added Real Food Kitchens, this young company is still developing their own website, so we will work with them to enable the web ordering process.    At Ojo’s we are diligently working with Plan B Organic Farms to offer some awesome fermented veggies, and we hope to announce our condiments and menu for 2015 on the first day of spring.  We are looking for other local sustainable food growers and producers in the Hamilton area that would like to sell their products online for warehouse pick up. 

We love the seasons so much we will also host a party on the first day of spring – and then thru the fall we will do it every 3rd Wednesday of the month, and we decree this will be called “good food day” and it will be good. 

Mark your calendars for Friday March 20th and plan to come out and be entertained with an open mic hosted by Local Hamilton Favorite Joan Krygsman from 3-7, also on good food day – we of course have to have some good food – so we have invited 4 food trucks to join ojo’s at the market, so come out for dinner and hang out for a while.