Young promoter for rural life

Norfolk’s Dusty Zamecnik shares ideas at world conference

Langton's Dusty Zamecnik, co-founder of the Hometown Brew Co., is in Scotland this week as part of the Rural Youth Project. The RYP gathers young adults from several countries with an aim to develop strategies to facilitate involvement of other young people in agricultural and rural activity. Last year Zamecnik took home the Ontario Young Farmers Award. Jacob Robinson / Simcoe Reformer file

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Langton’s Dusty Zamecnik has become one of the faces of a growing business sector in Norfolk County.

Zamecnik, co-founder of the Hometown Brew Company based in Langton, is representing Norfolk County and the entire nation as the Canadian delegate at the Rural Youth Project beginning this week in Scotland.

The gathering includes up and comers from small towns around the world with an aim to develop strategies to facilitate involvement of other young people in agricultural and rural activity.

“What we’re really trying to do is, not so much bridge the rural and urban divide but it’s more so (talking about) that initial thought of ‘I grew up in a small town, I need to leave – as soon as I go to college, my next step is living in an urban centre’,” Zamecnik explained. “Maybe it’s being proud and finding ‘how do we avoid that rural brain drain?’ and ‘what is the reason people are leaving?’.”

Zamecnik is joining other 20 somethings from across the UK, Austria, and Australia.

Together they’ll be discussing what makes living in a rural area great, and what type of challenges they’re faced with.

“It’s not all about ‘living in Norfolk is the best thing possible and I love it’, it’s also what do you face that creates issues, everything from lack of reliable internet to mental health,” Zamecnik said.

Zamecnik graduated from St. FX University in 2013 and landed a career in the brewing industry. Eventually, he returned home to start Hometown Brew Co. with his cousins Matt and Tom De Vos. He’s more than happy to speak on behalf of other young members of Norfolk’s business community.

“It’s an incredible honour and this is what I’m really happy to do,” he said. “That’s something I’m really passionate about is giving a full voice for areas like ours and I think that’s key. I’m really excited to be living in Norfolk in 2018 and I’m happy to promote areas that maybe are on the cusp or maybe need that extra oomph to say ‘hey, we can do it’. I’m really honoured to be part of that for the program.”

Zamecnik hopes that the Hometown Brew Co. can serve as an example to other aspiring entrepreneurs thinking about setting up shop in Norfolk.

“The opportunity is there, the community is there to support it – to support small business and not even small business per se because I don’t like calling it small biz, but new business,” he said. “That’s what is key, that’s the word we really want to spotlight, ‘new’ business that our area is definitely looking for … we’re doing it here and it’s working so why not?”

Recently, the Hometown Brew Co. partnered with owners of Burning Kiln Winery/Long Point Eco-Adventures to announce a new brewery on the site at 1730 Front Rd. Since opening, the Hometown brews were made at the Ramblin’ Road Brewing Farm on Swimming Pool Road just north of Delhi.

A celebration party was held at Burning Kiln last week.

The plans for a new brewery, Zamecnik said, were met with “nothing but positive” reaction.

“Complete strangers were coming up to the three of us and saying ‘thank you’,” Zamecnik said. “Not ‘thank you for building a brewery’ but ‘thanks for being a part of the community and believing in the area’ … That’s what’s been cool is we’ve never felt like we’ve been on an island. In a rural community sometimes you can feel like you’re on an island … but it’s fun knowing that you’re never alone.”

As part of the Rural Youth Project, Zamecnik will be shooting videos to be posted on social media not only chronicling his operation but what makes Norfolk unique.

“It’s not just a one-stop shop,” Zamecnik pointed out. “So if anyone wants to get involved or be a part of the vlogs going forward, feel free to reach out.”

To contact the Hometown Brew Co. log onto hometownbrew.com/contact-us or call 519-410-7676.

jrobinson@postmedia.com

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