A Message from Bill Redelmeier

Bill Redelmeier, proprietor of Southbrook Vineyards, sent out this post the other day. I liked it so much I asked him if I could post it here and he kindly allowed it.

I saw this sign in Fonthill earlier this summer, and I had to take a picture. To me it is an important message that I have wanted to talk about, but I have struggled because I didn’t want to make this into a rant.

When Marilyn and I started Southbrook in 1983 north of Toronto we had two principles. The first and most important was quality. Without quality we were nothing. The second principle was local. Every fruit or vegetable we sold was from Ontario, right from the start. People often asked for Bananas and Oranges, but we always said the winter had killed them.

Local is often about community. No matter what zoning regulations you write, some people will try to develop farmland. The best way to preserve farms is not by regulation, but by supporting them through purchases.

A few years ago, a study by Craft Wineries of Ontario revealed that the average bottle of Ontario wine sold at the LCBO (only VQA wines can be called Ontario) leaves over $10 in Ontario. Not some ill defined “Economic Benefit or Taxes”, but cash paid to farmers, farm workers, wineries and their workers, equipment dealers and suppliers who all pay income taxes, HST and property taxes in Ontario. The equivalent for an Imported Wine at the LCBO is less than $1. That is over 10 times the return on Local vs. Import. Similar numbers come from other Agricultural products like meat and fruit.

To get back to the sign, we receive between 500 and 1000 requests for donations per year. While we can’t support all of them, we do support many each year, whether it is a cash donation, in kind, moral or the use of our facilities. In addition our staff are involved with many organizations, serving as volunteers

Here is where I worry that I am starting to rant. All of these things cost. Whether it is a donation or a higher cost of doing business, Ontario is an expensive place to operate, but I feel it is also a great place to live and raise a family. It only works though if everyone joins in. It’s hard to see where we as individuals can make a difference, but I think that if we vote with our wallet, we can. Support companies that support what you support. That could mean Sustainability, Organics or Local. It could mean Labour Policies, Political Affinity or Quality. It doesn’t matter, just please take a stand!

This is not begging you to buy Southbrook products. We would love it of course, but why not support the winery that gave a few bottles to your church or the local strawberry grower? I know the American berries are cheaper, but have you wondered why they are only cheaper when the Ontario berries are around, then they go up when local aren’t available ?

In summary: please buy from people and companies that are doing the right thing. It doesn’t matter whether it is a food producer or a retailer or a manufacturer, support those who share your values.

Bill Redelmeier                                                         www.southbrook.com

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