20 August 2013

Feast of Fields...A Travelling Wandering Feast

Chef Matt Batey from Mission Hill Winery at Little Church Organics
This past Sunday I was lucky enough to volunteer and attend the 5th annual Feast of Fields. This travelling feast has popped up around the valley at different venues over its five year history, but this year it was held right here in Kelowna at  Little Church Organics, the beautiful six-acre farm on the rich fertile soils near the beautiful and historical Mission Creek. Established in 2010 the farm has a rich history and is tied to Father Pandosy, who is recognized as the founding father of Kelowna. In 2010, Little Church Organics made the commitment to grow all crops on the farm following sustainable, organic, agricultural practices, with much of its fresh produce made available to local restaurants.

Mission Hill Winery;
 Sandrines Bakery;
 Two Rivers Specialty Meats;
Heirloom Potato Terrine 
This stellar event creates a marriage between the producers who grow our food and the consumer. The Feast of Fields experience takes guests on a delicious journey through the area’s many faces and flavours. Wandering throughout the farm, patrons are able to meet the chefs and farmers, the vintners, brewers and food artisans, to taste their products, ask questions, and learn more about where their food comes from.

I spent a leisurely afternoon wandering through the 6-acre farm property from tent to tent sampling bites and nibbles of the very best the Okanagan-Similkameen has to offer with my good friend, talented photographer and writer, and kindred spirit Dina of Olive Oil and Lemons. We sampled until we couldn't any longer, chatted with local chefs, farmers and producers, and enjoyed the ambiance on a fine Okanagan afternoon. You can read about her experience here. The event helps to cultivate an increased appreciation for local and organic food production. The variety, abundance and quality of our British Columbia bounty ranks with some of the best agricultural regions in the world.
Monika and friends from Okanagan Grocers;
 ;Happy Days goat cheese terrine on Bliss Salted Rosemary Tart, Bellmann Farms Thumbelina Carrot Relish, Evergreen Farms Fennel with Micro Greens; 
Peach Strudel with Basil Creme Fraiche;
 "Can I help you?"
I have volunteered for 4 out of 5 years. As a volunteer I feel I catch a rare glimpse into the making of a word class event as the drama unfolds. I feel the anticipation as many of the Okanagan Valleys top chefs, vintners, and organic farmers arrive with their goods to create this one-of-a-kind experience. I can only imagine the thought, effort and collaboration it takes each of them to get to this point to create a magical feast for 500+ attendees keeping portability in mind. I witness each participant being welcomed and ushered into the field. As each wagon load disappeared down the lane with all their goodies and displays I wondered how all of this seeming mayhem would transform into the magic I have witnessed in previous years with gorgeous displays and beaming participants. Seeing an event from the beginning is very different than arriving once all the hard work has already been accomplished. Kudos to the event organizers!!

But I do believe in magic as I meandered through the field next to a quaint historical church with napkin and wine glass in hand as a guest at Little Church Organics. The Feast of Fields is intended to be a leisurely, sumptuous experience. A four hour wandering harvest festival with the underlying theme being the connection between those who grow our food and those who eat it. You can taste the very best of the Okanagan Valley from chefs, vintners, brewers, farmers, fishers, ranchers and food artisans from across the valley. Think of it as restaurants disguised as a farmers market. You wander from tent to tent sampling bites and nibbles and raving with other diners about how good it all is. And all your “sacrifice” helps to develop a secure food future. Some think of it as a 35+ course meal with endless wine and beer!
Potato Chaat from Poppadoms;
Tracey of Savoury Surfer and friends;
Stollen from Okanagan Grocers;
Caprese Rocket Pop
Feast of Fields acts as a catalyst for bringing our region’s food and agricultural communities together while raising awareness of the importance and enjoyment of eating locally. It provides the public with an up-close-and-personal opportunity to sample our local products while supporting a not-for-profit organization FarmFolk/CityFolk that has been committed to food security projects in British Columbia since 1993. With the help of FarmFolk CityFolk each guest is helping to develop a secure food future for future generations. Feast of Fields has been held at different venues across Canada for nearly 20 years.

Each year about 20 organic producers are teamed with talented chefs to create special culinary treats for more than 500+ paying guests. Taken together with scores of volunteers, more than 800 people attend Feast of Fields each year. If you've ever been to one of Farm Folk City Folk Feast of Fields you will know they just keep getting better and better!!!

Mouth-watering fare as far as the eye can see ensures the event's success year after year but generous, enthusiastic and talented people actually make this event successful, from the chefs who create amazing dishes over a simple campfire or gas barbecue to the wineries and breweries that continue to innovate with their products, to the dedicated, hardworking organic farmers who work year round to grow the food we eat to the hundreds of volunteers who are committed to the organic movement. It's no coincidence that Feast of Fields takes place in late summer, the pinnacle of harvest season. This gives chefs an opportunity to take advantage of the unlimited harvest bounty at their doorsteps, and what they deliver is incomparable!!!

What originally began in 1989 in Ontario as a modest walkabout featuring urban cuisine in a rural setting has become an event guests and participants eagerly anticipate year after year. Imagine strolling through a sweet-smelling field sampling dozens of the freshest, most succulent organic creations, accompanied by organic and local wines and beers and you will get a taste of the Feast of Fields event. Feast of Fields has been spreading across Canada. FarmFolk/CityFolk has hosted its own Feast of Fields in Vancouver for the past several years as well as here in the Okanagan Valley, while Earth to Table in Calgary has taken the concept and turned it into a dinner. Groups in Halifax, Montreal and Winnipeg have expressed interest in hosting the event as well. Feast of Fields is a gastronomic journey towards a sustainable, local food system. Knowledge is power, and the sense of community is strengthened and energized through this kind of event.
Frozen Stone Fruit Lolly , Crispy Pork, Stu Garden Basil Sugar with Pink Lady Iced Cider Syrup from Chef Delta Stuart Klassen of The Grand Okanagan;
 Fresh and Tasty;
Local Lounge;

 Torpedo Onion and Sungold Tomato Tart with Carmeli's Goat Yogurt
It was a wonderful way to spend a day, and I found a lot of people that I looked forward to visiting. The food was earth-shattering, the drinks were refreshing and delicious on a hot sweltering day. It really was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon with like-minded people. After 5 hours I left dusty, tired and over-heated but with a deep satisfaction that I had helped in some small way to create a collaboration between farmers and consumers. If you haven't been, and enjoy eating, I would recommend that you check it out in your area! In British Columbia the Feast continues September 8th at Krause Berry Farms in Langley, and September 22nd at Metchosin Farm on Vancouver Island. If not there is always next year!!!! These tasty events not only highlight the connection between farmers and chefs, but so much more…explore what your region has to offer while strolling through a country field with a wine glass and linen napkin in hand, all the while supporting the work of FarmFolkCityFolk.  I knew from past experience that I would leave satisfied with a full belly and warm memories...and no need to make dinner!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Must be so nice..and look at the weather..Perfect..!

  2. Simply amazing. Are there still people in your area that do not 'get it'?

    1. I would have to say that most people simply do not get it Sarah. Most have never heard of Feast of Fields which began 5 years ago thanks to Ned Bell and Rys Pender.

  3. What beautiful photos, I especially favor the opener. I'm so glad for this cause, and kudos to you Val, for volunteering and helping to spread the word. I wish you all much success. If only I lived closer!

  4. How fun to be a volunteer for such a worthwhile project. I would have wanted to sample everyone of those scrumptious bites.

  5. Wasn't it fun? I am still waiting for a call from the micro-greens guy. Will let you know once I hunt him down:). great article as always Val, such engaging writing.

  6. Looks like another incredible Okanagan event! I spent the afternoon floating down the Penticton channel, then beer and a burger at Burger 55, but throughout the day I found myself thinking of you and Dina, hoping you were having fun. :-)

    1. It is not an event to be missed but Burger 55 is OK too:D

  7. what amazing and beautiful pictures dear Val sounds like a perfect and lovely day and the food amazing!!

  8. What a fun event and great cause! The food looks amazing too.

  9. I have to admit, I've never heard of it.
    What a great cause though.
    You take the best photos Val.

  10. I love the whole idea behind this!

  11. What fun this must have been. The weather looks perfect and the food looks delicious. I can't think of a better way to raise funds for such a great cause. Have a wonderful day, Val. Blessings...Mary

  12. Really beautiful up there. Love the rocket pop! We used to call a red white and blue (and loaded with fake ingredients & food dyes) a bomb pop. GREG

  13. What a delightful day! Everything looks so pretty and for a wonderful purpose! I know that samples were great!

  14. Wow, what a great event. All that delicious and beautiful food, but that peach strudel caught my fancy and I'll be trying to duplicate that before our peach season ends.

  15. It was a really cool event. It was my first time participating as well and I will definitely be doing it again next year but I'll bring a picnic blanket and plan to stay longer.

    The Wanderfull Traveler

  16. Oh wow, Val!! What a gorgeous event!!! The colors are so vivid and brilliant. :-)

  17. What a delicious event! I'd love to taste those Caprese pops - along with everything else.

  18. What a wonderful day. I wish we had something like this here in Los Angeles. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photographs. And good for you for volunteering. I have volunteers in lots of different events over the years, and I have found that every time the experience has been wonderful and enhanced my enjoyment of the event.

  19. These are incredible events. Kudos to you for volunteering, Valerie. That is a hard day of work and so appreciated. I, too, have volunteered at many, many similar events - and love to travel so that I can enjoy them as a guest - as at home, it just doesn't happen. Thank you for sharing the bounty of your home.


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