Local residents usually know the best spots for their favorite farm stand or how to source local products, and now a project by Travel Lane County has compiled those spots into an easily accessible map.

The South Willamette Valley Food Trail is a free brochure and map of food and farm businesses in the South Willamette Valley that are committed to thoughtful and sustainable practices, says Bri Matthews, destination development manager, who coordinated the project. She was assisted by Stephen Hoshaw, public relations and social media manager.

Available both online and in print brochures at participating businesses, the food map is being marketed to both residents and visitors as a guide to unique culinary and agritourism experiences in the south valley.

We asked Bri and Stephen for their thoughts on the food trail map.

What is the goal for this project? Bri: Our goal is to promote the South Willamette Valley as a premier culinary and agritourism destination to visitors and locals by showcasing the local growers, crafters and producers of the region. We aim to use the brochure to show visitors how they can see, taste, buy and bring home unique products and experiences in the South Willamette Valley.

What makes this different? Bri: What was really interesting about this project was the chance to work directly with our community members. Businesses who applied and qualified really are focused on local foods. The criteria involves being located in the South Willamette Valley, food has to be sourced within 150 miles, restaurants must use 33 percent of their food from local producers, and lodging has to have some kind of food experience or farm that tied them back to the place. That’s what makes it different from other materials out in the market, to connect with what’s happening in the local food scene. It’s pretty cool.

What’s the itinerary? Stephen: We wanted to showcase these businesses and how they’re sourcing food in the Willamette Valley. That’s our key hook. One way it came through is in the “itineraries,” having them on one program. Right now, we have three angles of the food sustainable story: World-Class Wine (Eugene to South Willamette Valley Wine Country), A River Runs through It (Springfield to McKenzie River), and Family-Friendly Farms (Eugene to Creswell to Veneta). This is just the beginning, and we plan to organize several more itineraries.

How is it organized: There are 58 businesses on the brochure, organized in the following categories: Lodging, Experiences, Bakeries and Cafes, Eateries, Craft Beverages, Farms, Farmers Markets and Artisan Products. Businesses are located across Lane County, including Eugene-Springfield, Veneta, Junction City, Cottage Grove, Lowell, Oakridge and up along the McKenzie River.

How was it developed? Bri: The South Willamette Valley Food Trail Map is a product of the South Willamette Valley Culinary and Agritourism Studio and will be the fourth iteration of the newly developed “Oregon Food Trails” branding initiative by Travel Oregon.

How does this fit into the overall goal of Travel Lane County? Bri: Our mission is to increase overnights stays using tourism as an economic driver and motivator. One of the key strategies is culinary and agritourism. We’ve seen people coming to Oregon and to Lane County for those experiences, so we wanted to provide a tool that visitors can physically use to market these amazing experiences.

How do I access the map: Visit participating businesses, local Eugene-Springfield visitor’s centers, the Eugene Airport and hotels in the Eugene area. Or, visit southwillamettefoodtrail.com.

How can I learn more about the three existing Oregon Food Trails? Visit traveloregon.com for details.

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