AMHERST – When Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin was considering expanding her business she couldn’t help but think about how unsustainable local food was.
“There has been a demand for local products and consumers want to buy local products, but it’s not always available,” said Smith-McCrossin, who has opened up Manasseh Local Food in the former Cinder’s restaurant building in the heart of downtown Amherst. “People want to buy local but it’s not always easy to find the supply.”
Smith-McCrossin, who grew up in a farming family, says the farming industry has seen more than its fair share of tough times over the last decade or so. She said she would like to see a return to prosperity for farm families and would like to see all unused farm land returned to production.
By opening up the Manasseh Local Food market she’s hoping it will help provide an impetus for existing farmers to expand production and for others to consider farming as a career.
“A few weeks ago the Ivany report came out and talked about the rural economy and economic growth. This is just one little seed and my goal is that eventually we won’t have any unused farm land in Cumberland County,” she said. “Whether Manasseh grows or through exporting our local products elsewhere I want to see the local economy grow.”
She said it’s also important for a community to be able to feed itself.
Smith-McCrossin is also pleased with the Manasseh’s home and its connection to the food industry over the years as Cinder’s Steakhouse, the Helm Family Restaurant, the Bird Restaurant and other restaurants.
She’s also happy to be able to breath new life to an old building on the heart of Victoria Street.
In preparation for opening, Smith-McCrossin and Christine MacDonald drove around Nova Scotia purchasing fresh supplies for the market. She is placing a huge emphasis on local products as well as on organic food.
Coming from a farming background and with her career as a nurse and the operator of the Damaris Spa and Wellness Centre, Smith-McCrossin believes in the health benefits of locally grown produce and organic foods.
“Whether it’s through Simply for Life of my life as a nurse your health is important. If we’re ingesting a lot of foods with chemicals and pesticides it’s not good for your health,” she said. “Everything we have here will be local and will support local businesses and will be as organic as possible.”
Products are coming from far and wide in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, including fresh bread products from Breakfast at Brittney’s, Tangled Gardens products, Speerville Flour Mill (which uses grain from the Parrsboro area) cheese from the Dutchman’s Farm, produce from Wysmykal Farm.
The market also includes the Art of Eating Deli, which has moved from its Church Street location. Simply for Life has also moved from Damaris over to the Manesseh while there will also be counseling services.
“This is an ideal location for the Art of Eating deli to grow. There’s lots of traffic and space and plenty of room for people to drop in shop at the market and have something to eat at deli,” Hubbard said.