Farm to fork proving to be a profitable trend for business owners

Businesses are seeing success in using the wild food of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tyler Dunne

An ever-growing trend in consumers wanting to know where their food comes from has encouraged businesses such as the Grounds Café to flourish.

The Grounds Café, located within the Murray’s Garden Centre, grows its own food or sources it from local farms and foragers. Their “farm to fork” methodology is described by Cameron Murray, a manager of the café, as a lifestyle that promotes taste, health and community.

“We really wanted to push the idea of a farm to fork café because I don’t know any other spots that are like that on the Avalon,” said Murray. “It was definitely our way of competing with restaurants downtown.”

The manager and employees are behind the counter serving a guest food.
Andie Bulman (left), Nick Giles (centre) and Cameron Murray (right) are working behind the counter of the Grounds Cafe. The guest at the counter is looking into their vegetarian options. Tyler Dunne/Kicker

The Grounds Café opened last May and is being well received by its guests and by local food critic Karl Wells who stated in his review: “. . . It’s brought an existing business to a more inclusive level by providing a service that everybody can enjoy.”

The cafe boasts its 47 five-star ratings on its Facebook page and is now looking to make accommodations for additional seating, even in the month of January.

Murray describes the name of the business as a “triple entendre” –  the ground representing the dirt of the earth, the ground coffee (exclusively from Trinity Coffee Company) and the grounds of the location itself.

Above their kitchen is a list of farms and foragers they love, a nod to the several other companies providing product to the café.

The second on that list is the Barking Kettle, a foraging business operated by Shawn Dawson. Dawson, 29, specializes in foraging wild food in Newfoundland and provides most of the harvesting for restaurants in the St. John’s area. Dawson’s journey into foraging began by picking berries with his grandmother around the southern shore.

Owner and operator of The Barking Kettle is holding his cat, Douglas, who helps him forage food.
Shawn Dawson holding Douglas, a stray cat Dawson took in. Douglas enjoys foraging with his owner. Tyler Dunne/Kicker

Fueled by a love for the outdoors and a desire for sustainable living, Dawson has turned his interests into a full-time job. This is the first year Dawson hasn’t had to rely on his gardening and landscaping skills to generate a living income due to high demand for his product.

“I’m tickled,” said Dawson. “I’ve always done it but there were only a couple restaurants buying those things. Now, in the past three to four years it has been so popular. Everyone wants to cook with fresh, local and clean ingredients.”

The Grounds Café and the Barking Kettle share not only their passion for local food but also a willingness to teach that information to others. In fact, the Grounds Café even has workshops and guided tours to educate people on growing and foraging their own food.

Dawson himself is working on a book based on foraging and cooking wild Newfoundland vegetation and fungi that is aimed to be released in the spring.



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