The food will be, well, outstanding in its field. Likewise the wine and beer. Of course, the ambience will also be out of this world as you sip and sup fine offerings from local farmers, chefs, vintners, brewers and a host of other food producers, all while meandering through the beautiful fields and gardens of North Arm Farm in Pemberton.
A pleasure, surely, and a precedent-setter to be part of the first Feast of Fields held in this neck of the woods. But also a political act, one aimed right at the underbelly of industrial agribusiness. In fact, with the feast on Saturday and the Slow Food Cycle on Sunday, Aug. 19-20 will be an entire weekend of having one heck of a lot of fun while thinking about where you source your food and drink – and why.
Feast of Fields is one of many projects supported and organized by FarmFolk/CityFolk Society, a non-profit organization started in 1993 by Herb Barbolet and Janice Lotzkar. While the two came from different ends of the food system, they both recognized the lack of cooperation – and the potential for collaboration – between chefs and local farmers, and how that could help create a healthy, fair and sustainable food system in B.C. The Feasts of Fields go a long way toward building that consciousness with the general public.
At the time, Herb was a farmer. Janice was a renowned restaurateur who set Vancouver’s restaurant industry on its ear and helped lay the foundation for an authentic West Coast Canadian cuisine in the early 1990s when she opened Raintree. It was dedicated to a concept that, at the time, seemed sensational, some even called crazy, but one we now take for granted: serving all things local/regional/fresh/seasonal. (It was a natural for Janice to break new ground – she’s the daughter of former Whistler resident and consumer advocate, Ruth Lotzkar.)
While the feast in Pemberton is the first for the area, it’s one of three FarmFolk/CityFolk now hosts annually; the others are held in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.
Borrowing the concept from an Ontario-based group called Knives and Forks, FarmFolk/CityFolk hosted the first "western Canada" Feast of Fields in 1995 in Vancouver as a fundraiser. The events have become so successful they now account for about one-third of FarmFolk/CityFolk’s annual budget. As well, about half the profits go to a local worthwhile project, in this case the Pemberton Community Garden.
So why a Feast of Fields in Pemberton, and why now? Basically you have Astrid Cameron Kent to thank.
"We’d often thought of expanding the feast to other areas, like Kelowna or somewhere up the Sunshine Coast," says Bonita Magee, project manager for FarmFolk/CityFolk.