Forage & Feast: The Wanaka business putting local producers in the spotlight

. March 11, 2021
Forage & Feast: The Wanaka business putting local producers in the spotlight

Celebrating the region, the food, and the people who bring it to life, Forage & Feast are passionate about creating unique food experiences in stunning Central Otago. We talked to the small business' director Naomi Lindsay about what inspires her, how she began and what happens on a food adventure.

This article was created in partnership with Forage & Feast

Providing immersive culinary experiences, celebrating their food, and through food, their people, is the concept behind Forage & Feast Food adventures. Naomi Lindsay is the mastermind behind this inspiring enterprise – connecting visitors and locals through a shared love of food and the exploration of its provenance.

Originally from the UK, Naomi moved to New Zealand around 18 years ago. After 3 months of travelling around NZ she settled in Queenstown then moved to Wanaka about 7 years ago. As she met producers in the region, she was captivated by the wide and rich variety. When she realised that no one was telling the stories of those producers, Naomi set about doing that herself. Her background in marketing and communications, helped her to realise her vision, and with that, Forage & Feast was born.

We talked to Naomi about her inspiration, food adventures and why she loves doing what she does. 

dish: When did you first start wanting to work with local food and suppliers?
Naomi: My love of food started young but grew with age, experience and my travels. I always loved visiting markets overseas, doing cooking courses and meeting people who grow and produced the local food. When I moved to Wanaka I volunteered for the local Artisan Market to meet more foodies and realised what an amazing group of producers, growers and artisans we had here.

What were you inspired by?
I was inspired to help tell the story of our local producers and inspire the everyday consumer to find out more about locally foraged, grown or produced food. It’s important we understand where our food comes from and from an environmental perspective, eating seasonal and local is one way we can reduce carbon emissions.

How did the idea arise for Forage and Feast?
I had met so many local producers, doing great things and I realised there wasn’t a local platform to tell these stories or anyone connecting people -locals and visitors-to these foodies. So the idea was born to take people on foodie adventures, to meet the people, see and taste the produce, as well as do pop-up events more aimed at the local community to “Meet the Maker”.

How did you begin Forage and Feast?
Forage & Feast started as an idea five years ago and over time I have built up connections. Investment from the Regional Business Partners post covid, gave me the support, confidence and clarity to move forward. Starting with weekend tours.

Can you please tell us how a typical Food Adventure works?
Each adventure is different, based on the season, availability of products and partners. Each one includes stops at various foodie places from growers, farmers or producers, including private and commercial partners, seasonal wild foraging walks, with morning tea, appetizers, tastings and a three course lunch in a unique location. You won’t go hungry!

A food adventure tour collecting honey from a hive.

Has there been any particular success stories from Food Adventures that stand out to you?
Still too early, but feedback from our test tours with locals has been excellent with everyone agreeing it’s an innovative idea for the region and a great way to showcase our food community.

How do you select which suppliers to work with?
Our partners match our own values of providing locally-grown, farmed or produced food, with as little impact on our environment and where possible, regenerative and/or organic practices are in place.

What effect do you think Forage and Feast has on the local community?
I hope that Forage & Feast will provide a platform for anyone living or visiting Wanaka to be able to connect with food somehow. Forage & Feast aims to be a one-stop shop for everything food related – where to shop, where to find products, the people behind the products, events, recipes, you name it. If it has to do with food and has a local twist, we aim to cover it or do it.

What is something that running Forage and Feast has taught you?
It’s taught me that patience is a virtue. Good things take time, timing is everything and to trust my gut, value myself, be me and give back always. Without our partners, we don’t have a business model, so it’s important to me that we work as partners and give back to our local community, not just take away.

Japanese Turnip. 

What is next for Forage and Feast?
The goal is to ramp up our events schedule, continue to take tours and eventually expand into Central Otago and Queenstown and multi-day tours.

What do you love most about your job?
People and Places. I love the people we partner with, the people we connect with on our adventures and the places we get to explore. Oh and the yummy food. It’s heaven. It really is a wonderful way to explore Wanaka.

Adventurers enjoying the 'feast' component of 'Forage and Feast'

Forage & Feast