United Way presents first-ever “Battle of the Growers”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Teams comprised of wineries, growers and chefs from all around Essex County gathered at Pelee Island Winery Friday night to have fun and to raise a few bucks in the process.

“Battle of the Growers” was presented by United Way and several sponsors, including presenting sponsor Libro Credit Union, with six teams competing. Proceeds from the evening will go towards the “On Track” program that United Way sponsors in Leamington.

Local growers, wineries, chefs as well as students in the On Track program will compete in teams to create a delicious small plate appetizer-sized dish for 250 guests. The evening was designed to bring together members of the Ontario greenhouse industry and vegetable growers in a friendly competition. The hook was that the team has to use a vegetable or fruit supplied by the participating grower.

Bill Deslippe from Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering in Amherstburg shows the appetizer he and his team prepared for Battle of the Growers. It ended up being the winning entry. Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery and Highline Growers were also part of the team.

Bill Deslippe from Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering in Amherstburg shows the appetizer he and his team prepared for Battle of the Growers. It ended up being the winning entry. Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery and Highline Growers were also part of the team.

“We put together a group of women from the county and said ‘what can we do that would be different’,” explained Danielle Moldovan, relationship manager, major gifts and planned giving with United Way.

Moldovan noted the “bounty of the county” includes many great restaurants, farms and wineries so they worked to create an event for all of them.

“We decided to pair them together,” said Moldovan.

Judges included Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and Councillor Tony Gaffan, Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, and Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) vice president Lynnette Bain.

The On Track program has Grade 9 and 10 cohorts in Leamington and assists students who have challenges in their lives and may not be able to succeed as well in high school without the program. Students gain support through the program in both their education and their lives with the program helping to place them on the path to prosperity and a better life. Students can also obtain tuition support for post-secondary education.

Jody Goslin of Oxley Estate Winery pours a glass of wine at Battle of the Growers Friday night. There were six teams of chefs, wineries and growers competing.

Jody Goslin of Oxley Estate Winery pours a glass of wine at Battle of the Growers Friday night. There were six teams of chefs, wineries and growers competing.

Karen Brady, interim vice president of marketing and communications with United Way, said students are identified in Grade 8 for possible enrollment into the On Track program. About 15-20 students per year go through the On Track program in Leamington, with an additional program offered in west Windsor. There is a success coach that helps the students along the way, she noted.

The cost to put a student through the program is $6,500 per year.

Lorraine Goddard, CEO at United Way Windsor-Essex County, said those who grow up in economically disadvantaged families face numerous challenges but the program helps students with self-esteem and puts them on a path to success.

United Way held its “Battle of the Growers” Friday night at Pelee Island Winery. Judges fro the event included (from left): Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, Kingsville councillor Tony Gaffan and TWEPI vice president Lynnette Bain.

United Way held its “Battle of the Growers” Friday night at Pelee Island Winery. Judges fro the event included (from left): Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, Kingsville councillor Tony Gaffan and TWEPI vice president Lynnette Bain.

“This event is going to help kids in our community change the odds,” she said, adding they will be able to return to the community after getting an education, get jobs and help build the communities they live in.

The winning team included two Amherstburg businesses – Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering and Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. They teamed with Highline Mushrooms from Kingsville.

Bill Deslippe, chef at Smashed Apple, said they were very busy on the night but was happy to be there.

“It’s all for a good cause,” he said.

Jody Goslin, master taster at Oxley Estate Winery, said they were approached by Pelee Island Winery about helping out United Way and its On Track program.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Goslin. “We’re all in this together.”

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