Wouldn’t it be a perfect picnic if the best British Columbia farmers, fish mongers, ranchers, chefs and food artisans got together with wineries, breweries, distilleries and other beverage producers from the region and prepared an amazing spread? Imagine walking through the gates of a local farm and exchanging a ticket for a crisp white linen napkin and wine glass to roam at will for four hours to taste and savour the creations pausing to listen to live music.
Think micro greens, peas, corn, peaches, raspberries and tomatoes so ripe they pop in your mouth along with fine artisan cheeses and libations dancing on your tongue. Picture slices of lime cured Coho salmon, slivers of beef with chimichurri, pork cracklings and chicken salad competing as next bite against chocolate croissants, rustic breads, spicy potato chaat and icy fruit/vegetable popsicles. Perhaps an Indian spice-infused cocktail with Okanagan Spirits by Poppadoms.
Wait a second, you don’t have to imagine such an occasion: The not-for-profit society FarmFolk CityFolk created Feast of Fields as an annual fundraising event in three areas of B.C. years ago. You just have to go online or to select outlets early to snag a ticket. In 2014, it will present its 20th Metro Vancouver Feast, 17th Vancouver Island Feast and 6th Okanagan Feast. Feast of Fields aligns with the society’s mandate “to cultivate a local, sustainable food system” and lets you set out on a gastronomic journey rubbing elbows with like-minded individuals.
Since I moved to the Okanagan, I’ve attended the Okanagan Feast of Fields every year save one when it fell on the weekend my nephew got married in the Kootenays. I encourage friends visiting the Okanagan to plan their vacation around it. Even if you’re not part of the local food movement, it’s an afternoon of deliciousness. It’s a great way to scout out where to eat, what wineries, breweries and distilleries to visit, and what products you want to buy to take home.
Host for August 18, 2013 was Little Church Organics, a picturesque six-acre farm established 2010 in Kelowna by Dustin and Melissa Sargent. Its produce is sold to local restaurants and at its road-side stand seasonally. The property is close to Mission Creek and steeped in history with ties to Kelowna’s founding father, Father Pandosy. You’ll even find a miniature replica of an 1870s church, hence Little Church.
Tickets were $95 with group rates offered. For $15 return, buses were available from Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland and Westbank. Without the support of sponsors and the local food industry such a sumptuous spread would not be possible. Thanks to Savour magazine, I got to catch up with the talented personalities of over 30 wineries, breweries, distilleries and beverage suppliers and as many or more food stations. At the Marketplace you could pick up a new knife from Knifewear, An Okanagan Cookbook, True Grain Bread or My Tea Blending Room tea. There was also a silent auction chock full of culinary items. And I even spotted some of my Albertan friends grazing and sipping and planning the places to visit in the next few days.
Photographs offer a visual clue and words an inkling of the experience. For the total tactile tour, you’ll just have to join me next year!