This holiday season, Ottawa Foodie Girlz is celebrating the 12 days of Christmas with a festive Q&A style blog series featuring one local business per day. We’ve spent the last few weeks connecting with local business owners and each day we will we will reveal the business, their story, and a special giveaway. That’s right, we have 12 giveaways coming up!
Make sure to check out our 12 days of Christmas event page every day as we reveal the next business. All giveaways will start the day the blog is featured end 5 days later! All photos have been provided by the business, unless otherwise credited.
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....
Why/How/When did you start your business?
We started Lowertown Canning Company in April 2014. For a few years prior, Simon and I had been canning excess produce from our garden in Ripon, QC. Canning and preserving is something that I have been doing my whole life (I grew up on a farm) and Simon (a chef) was fascinated by the science of food preservation. On a trip to Toronto for a relative's birthday, we stopped into a new shop in Kensington Market - Thomas Lavers Cannery and Delicatessen. We both just sort of looked at each other and said, "we could do this!"
Tell us about your successes and/or challenges?
The response in this community to new local businesses is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone we meet is so encouraging - hearing people rave about our products is success enough for us! However, I think we realized we were really doing this last fall when we got our first "big order" from Farm Boy. They ordered 100 cases of our Chipotle Cranberry Sauce for Christmas to bring in as a seasonal product. This year we are almost tripling that Farm Boy order, and we've more than doubled orders at other retail outlets too.
In terms of challenges, I don't even know where to start. Literally everything is a challenge when you're starting a business and learning how to run it simultaneously! We've overcome some serious hurdles, but right now storage is our biggest issue. Our products are big and heavy, and given that we share a kitchen with another company, things are getting a bit tight!
What is your most popular product?
Our Chipotle Cranberry Sauce is by far our most popular product around Christmas. Everyone loves turkey and gravy, but the blob of accompanying tin can-shaped cranberry jelly leaves something to be desired. Our cranberry sauce is made with fresh local cranberries, chipotle and garlic, and is low in added sugar. It is delicious with turkey dinner, but also on a sandwich, burger, or with crackers and goat cheese.
What do you want people to know about you and your products?
Our business model centers around helping to build our local economy. All our produce comes from the Ottawa/Gatineau region, and we attempt to know each and every farmer we buy from. These people work incredibly hard to feed our city and we want to do our part to support them. Even our packaging is (relatively) local. Our jars come from Montreal and are made in Canada, our labels are printed in Orleans, and our paper bags are made from 100% recycled material. Everything we make is fresh, sustainable, and contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives. It’s just real food in jars.
Where else can people find your products?
You can find our products at a number of shops in the Ottawa area. Our main retail outlets are: Seed to Sausage, Ottawa Bagel Shop, Meat Press, Herb & Spice Bank St., Equator Coffee, Kitchenalia, Your Corner Butcher, Les Deux Frères, and Flavoureux. Currently Farm Boy only carries our cranberry sauce seasonally, but we are looking into the option of a full product line soon.
Simon is always concocting new recipes - it's like a revolving door of ideas going through his head. This year we planted and pickled cucamelons. They look like tiny watermelons, but they taste like a cucumber, and they were delicious pickled! We will continue to experiment and sell small batches like these. More importantly, we are looking at ways that we can expand our currently production capacity. We've only just begun to tap into the Ottawa market, and this year we want to take our products to Prince Edward County, Kingston and Belleville.