Portage Regional Economic Development is hoping to bring city dwellers out to the local farms. Our Big Table is an initiative granted by the Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection, and will make it easier to locate producers around the region. PRED Executive Director Douglas Barill explains the initiative aims to help support local farmers, by providing advertising for their locations.

"They granted PRED based on our ideas to gather urban folks, bring them out to the country, and showcase our local food. It's basically a farm-to-table initiative. We're going to be developing a map to showcase all of the local food and possibly other options --like antiquing and that sort of thing-- to foster economic development in the local area."

Work on the initiative will start this fall, as PRED speaks with local producers, in hopes of having a map created by the spring. Barill notes this map will provide a bit of a change from the previous methods of locating local farmers.

"We're engaging all of our local producers, especially those who do farm gate sales. Farm gates are off the farm or however they're doing their business. We just showcase them and also put them on the map. Literally, they're already on the map, but the old school way of doing direction and directional signage aren't working anymore. It's best for urbanites, locals, and others who are looking for local products to just be able to find them on the map."

The maps will be available at the Fort la Reine Museum, the Forks in Winnipeg, as well as on PRED's website. However, Barill explains the information will also be available to put included on your GPS, to increase the ease of locating these farms.

"We'll be having that map integrated into our website. I know the RM and the city are both looking at app development and that sort of information can be built into the database so therefore if anyone downloads those apps on their phone they'll be able to find them using GPS."

Overall, Barill describes the initiative as a modern spin on what's taken place over the last 2,000 years.