Forth Valley Food and Drink network is set to launch a new trail, encouraging people to fill their picnic baskets with local produce.
Funded by Scotland Loves Local, the map will highlight the region’s local food and drink businesses, free outdoor attractions and picnic areas.
Speaking of the launch, Carolyn McGill, coordinator of Forth Valley Food and Drink, said: “We’re encouraging locals to rediscover the fantastic array of local food and drink businesses on their doorstep – from farm shops and delis to local producers and eateries offering food to go.
“Follow the trail map for some suggestions of where to buy your al fresco feast and pop some local produce in your picnic basket.
“You’ll also find tips on where to picnic and free attractions you can visit along the way. So grab your picnic blanket and get out there.”
Nearly 50 local businesses are taking part in the trail, including The But and Ben in Croftamie which sells coffee, cakes, breakfast, lunch and ice cream from its takeaway window.
Coffee shop owner Barbara Cunningham said: “The Trail is a wonderful idea to highlight the amazing choice of food and drink businesses in our area.
"It’s perfect for those looking to pick up picnic food to go or to enjoy in our outdoor seating area.
"We hope it’ll encourage people to get out and enjoy our beautiful countryside and support local businesses at the same time.”
Turnip the Beet in Killearn is also showcased on the new map.
Deli owner Laura Burt said it offers a great way to highlight what's on offer, saying: “The Trail presents an amazing opportunity for local food suppliers, by not only highlighting better known, well established eateries, but by putting a spotlight on smaller or new establishments as well as those that exist off the beaten track.
“It’s a great way to highlight the ever-growing selection on offer, as well as presenting new ideas for enjoyable days out within the area.
“We hope it will encourage positive synergy between ourselves, fellow existing local food businesses and all of our customers, which in turn will equate to a stronger representation of our region. We are so pleased to be a part of it.”
Strathyre’s Broch Café has also joined the trail.
Owner William Lindsay is delighted to be included and said: "The food trail is a wonderful idea and we’re delighted to be included in the trail map.
"We’re ideally situated just off the A84 trunk road in Strathyre, adjacent to Sustrans route 7 which forms part of the Rob Roy Way, making us the perfect pit stop for visitors looking for breakfast, lunch or coffee and cake in beautiful surroundings.
"We’re looking forward to welcoming back locals and visitors to enjoy our freshly prepared foods and home-baking."
It’s not just rural business that feature on the trail. Douglas Ross of Allanwater Brewhouse, re-opened his beer garden in Bridge of Allan on Monday 26 April.
He said: “It has been an extremely tough year for the industry, so we’re delighted to be taking part in this initiative which is all about encouraging people to support local and help get Forth Valley’s food and drink businesses back on their feet.
"We’re lucky to have a great range of eateries and pubs on our doorstep, so let’s get out there and support them by following the trail and rediscovering the region’s rich local larder.
"We’d like to thank all the people who have supported local businesses throughout the pandemic. We would not be here now without you.”
The Scotland Loves Local Fund, which provided the trail grant, was administered by Scotland's Towns Partnership (STP) on behalf of the Scottish Government.
STP chief officer Phil Prentice said: "This is a fantastic project - a great way to showcase local produce and businesses.
"We are delighted to be able to support it.
"As Covid-19 restrictions relax and more local businesses are able to reopen, it's vital that we all think local first and support the shops, producers and attractions around us.
"This trail is a great way of doing exactly that, allowing locals to enjoy so much of what's on their doorstep while helping communities throughout the Forth Valley to recover and rebuild from the consequences of the pandemic.
"Continued strong support for local businesses is in everyone's interests."
The interactive trail map will be available to explore online from Saturday 1 May.