Potatoes aren’t the only things growing in Pemberton, a whole movement is steadily gaining speed with the turn of a pedal.
Slow Food Cycle Sunday, on Sunday, Aug. 19, is putting Sea to Sky residents in touch with local food producers on an all-day cycle of Pemberton farms. But more than that, the homegrown event is inspiring other communities to adopt the Slow Food mantra, so much so, even the Ministry of Agriculture is taking notice.
Provincial officials decided to use Pemberton’s Slow Food Cycle Sunday model to fashion another Slow Food Cycle event for the first time in Agassiz this year.
“I guess imitation is the biggest form of flattery,” said Slow Food Cycle Sunday co-founder Lisa Richardson. “The key ingredients will be the same: biking, farm touring, meeting the growers, eating food.”
But each location will carry its own distinct charm. Like a potato dug up from Helmer’s Organics or North Arm Farm, soil, temperature, seed and tending will produce a distinct flavour that can’t be replicated.
Anyone who has picked raspberries at Sturdy’s or sipped ice wine at The Vineyard Restaurant knows Pemberton has no shortage of character. From the unique produce pulled from the ground to the world-class chefs that aren’t afraid to get dirty, Pemberton is a hybrid recipe of Old MacDonald Has a Farm played by a symphony orchestra.
Slow Food Cycle Sunday invites young and old to explore Pemberton’s plentiful farmlands in a way that is as green as the strawberry fields currently in season. Festivalgoers will pedal their way around a 25 km loop that will connect riders with farmers, chefs, food artisans and winemakers, and most importantly, the community.
“We are expecting to double in size again,” Richardson said. “We’ve been chatting with local bed and breakfasts and already they are getting phone calls to book the weekend.”
The world is looking for more authentic adventures; ones to learn from and that connect us back to the basics like where our food comes from.
And while some shoppers don’t give California white-centered strawberries a second thought in mid-winter, more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of trucking, flying and barging in food from millions of miles away as more spinach, beef and even toothpaste is being pulled from shelves because of health threats. The effect of all those chemicals that keep our Fuji apples red and celery stalks crisp and green may not be able to be weighed on how it damages our bodies, but mother nature feels the brunt of all that air, sea and land travel clogging up the atmosphere.
Slow Food Cycle Sunday has cyclists shaking hands with producers, so they can learn more about eating local and the Slow Food philosophy, which believes that food should be good, clean and fair. Chefs and food artisans will educate and showcase how local products can be transformed from field to fork. As relationships are built, and an understanding of how much work goes into a beet or box of peaches, Slow Food cyclists might turn into a local farmer’s market before pulling into a grocery store parking lot.
“It’s our bread basket,” Richardson said of Pemberton farms. “It’s a part of our food shed. In understanding what is happening, we will all become stewards.”
It’s all about taking one pedal revolution at a time — or one canvas bag at a time thanks to Tracey Saxby, whose efforts resulted in Pemberton Council committing the village to reducing the use of plastic bags by 80 per cent.
Every Monday for the month of August, shoppers who bring their own canvas bag or coffee mug to Solstice Organics, The Pony, The Pemberton Supermarket and Twisted Whisker will be entered to win prizes drawn at Slow Food Cycle Sunday.
The event is only one day, but the footprint it leaves is aiming to become a year round adventure. Slow Food Cycle Sunday organizers have created a 40-page farmer’s almanac for the area, compiling information that puts people on even closer footing with local farms, such as what is in season when and a few recipe ideas to utilize that product.
“It’s about growing relationships that don’t exist in the fast food world,” Richardson said. “(The booklet) will give more traction, another point of entry into our lives.”
For a point of entry into Slow Food Cycle Sunday festivities, visit slowfoodcyclesunday.com.