Antony Young, chairman of the Horowhenua Taste Trail, sees the Horowhenua through a unique set of eyes.
He has experienced the excitement of big city living in London, Hong Kong and New York. However, it is the Horowhenua he now calls home. Antony is a firm believer that the Horowhenua is an enviable place to live in its own right.
"One thing I've really appreciated coming to the area is, the people are no nonsense and no pretence. I think that counts for a lot," he says.
Originally from Wellington, Antony spent 20 years overseas. He joined advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi and worked in media and communications planning, before deciding to return to New Zealand in 2016. He and his family now own a blueberry farm in Levin, Noho Farms.
Antony's experiences provide a perspective on the Horowhenua that is uplifting and aspirational. His skill set is also a welcome addition to the Horowhenua Taste Trail team.
The inaugural Taste Trail event began in 2016. Planning for the first Taste Trail was already under way when Antony moved to the Horowhenua. However, Antony came on board in 2017 with the goal of assisting in ensuring the trail was attractive and sustainable after a successful first year.
The Taste Trail is unique because the public can go on site and experience where their food is produced. It also promotes transparency in the industry because producers are opening their doors and showing the real food production process.
"We're really committed to making it somewhere where people can go on to the packing sheds and properties to see for themselves what it is like. Bringing someone inside a chicken processing plant is pretty gutsy stuff!" Antony says.
Antony's official role is to chair the Horowhenua Taste Trail Board (a not-for-profit comprised of four producer representatives and Antony as independent chairman). The board meets regularly throughout the year to define and execute the strategy behind the Taste Trail event.
However, Antony sums up his role as part cheerleader and part adviser.
"Most of the credit goes to the women on the organising committee who are not just executing it, it's their ideas and real desire to make something great happen. The producers have a big role to play, without them we simply do not have an event, and they genuinely want to promote the district before they promote their businesses with this venture.
"Then we have hundreds of volunteers and employees of the producers who give up their personal time. And we've got our sponsors who just want us to succeed," he says.
"So if anything, my role is the chief thank you officer. Because we owe it to all those involved to make it a success. It's something pretty special and something that has some real momentum," he says.
"We want the Horowhenua to mean something: to stand for good value, quality, freshness and locally produced. And this is helping to do that," Antony says.
Antony's passion for the Horowhenua as a great place to live and work is on display whenever he talks about the region.
"In the Horowhenua, we're not very good at blowing our own trumpet. This is an opportunity to put some of that out there. And I think that's largely why I'm involved. Just seeing the cafes creating a Horowhenua Taste Trail Dish and showcasing some of our ingredients.
"That's about pride. We want to use the Taste Trail as a showcase for some of the good things that are happening in the area", he says.
So come along and join Antony on Saturday, November 24 at the Taste Trail. See the Horowhenua with a fresh set of eyes and experience some of the new offerings this year. Tickets are selling fast and are available at http://www.tastetrail.co.nz/