Get back to the land on Slow Food Cycle Sunday 

Pemberton event combining farm-fresh food and cycling returns this weekend

click to enlarge PHOTOBY DAVE STEERS / COURTESY OF TOURISM PEMBERTON - meals on wheels Pemberton's beloved Slow Food Cycle Sunday returns this Sunday.
  • PHOTOby dave steers / courtesy of tourism pemberton
  • meals on wheels Pemberton's beloved Slow Food Cycle Sunday returns this Sunday.

The Sea to Sky, like a lot of other places in B.C., has endured plenty of change in recent years, and Pemberton is no exception.

The farming community has seen its population climb as more and more people make the move to Spud Valley to escape skyrocketing housing prices in Whistler and beyond.

But far from being a bedroom community, Pembertonians have strived to nurture and maintain the rural way of life that has been at the centre of its identity for generations.

And the community's most high-profile annual event, Slow Food Cycle Sunday, plays a small but important role in driving that point home.

"Pemberton has always been a farming-based community, and we've since gotten into the tourism industry, with weddings and adventure activities and that sort of thing, but (Slow Food Cycle) highlights the starting point of Pemberton, the history of Pemberton, the potato-seed farming aspects of Pemberton, which I think is good to highlight because, a lot of times, it gets forgotten," said Carlee Cindric, event manager of the 2018 Slow Food Cycle.

Combining biking with the principles of the slow food movement, the event was founded in 2005 by local writer Lisa Richardson and Anna Helmer, of Helmer's Organic Farm, who were both concerned about the growing loss of essential farmland due to development pressures.

Attendees will bike along the 45-kilometre route up and down Pemberton Meadows Road, with a chance to stop at 15 participating farms, where they will find samplings of fresh-made eats, local produce, beverages and crafts made right on the property. There will also be live music at various stops along the way.

"A lot of people are starting to understand that we need to eat local and support local, so this event really highlights the importance of that and showcases the farming side of the community," Cindric said. "I think many people are really turning towards the whole slow food movement and getting back to growing their own vegetables and understanding the importance of farmland and the need to maintain it."

It's also an opportunity for farmers to interact with the public firsthand and educate them on where their food comes from.

"Those that participate are pretty stoked to be able to showcase what they do on their property," said Cindric. "It's a very farm-to-mouth approach. I think all the farms that participate have that same passion."

Two new farms have joined the fray this year: Edible Eden Farm and Copper Cayuse Outfitters, Cindric noted. Pemberton's new breweries, the Beerfarmers, located on the property of Across the Creek Organics, and the Pemberton Brewing Company, will also be participating this weekend.

On the all-important food side of things, Cindric said there will be plenty of variety on offer, with farms and vendors serving up everything from wood-fired pizza to tacos, burgers, donuts, gelato, and, of course, potatoes.

With limited quantities of the farm-fresh treats available, Cindric encourages participants to arrive early to ensure they don't miss out. She also recommends packing some water and snacks for event day.

"There's some amazing food at each farm but not everyone has enough for the 2,800-plus riders that are out there because (the food) is not processed, it's made right there, and they're utilizing the produce that's available," she said.

Slow Food Cycle Sunday gets underway at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19 on Pemberton Meadows Road.

Sign up online to avoid lineups on the day of at slowfoodcyclesunday.com. A single ticket is $5, and a family ticket for up to six people is $20.

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