by Cassidy Nunn –
I’m continually amazed at the abundance of local farms, wineries, cideries, distilleries, restaurants and caterers we are blessed with here on Vancouver Island, who make farming, producing and eating local a priority and a way of life.
Featuring many of these amazing local businesses is the annual Feast of Fields – B.C.’s largest local food and beverage festival – a delicious event put on by the charitable organization Farm Folk City Folk, which strives to bring more awareness to sustainable food production in B.C. Every year they put on three Feasts across the province, one in the Okanagan, one in metro Vancouver and one on southern Vancouver Island. Sarah Hughes, one of the event planners for the Vancouver Island event, recently took me behind the scenes to see how this incredible event comes to fruition each year. Sarah has a background in event planning and has been a part of many charity events and this is her second year, along with Crystal Chabot, as planners of the southern Vancouver Island Feast of Fields.
On Sunday, August 25, the 22nd Vancouver Island Feast will be held at Snowdon House Gourmet & Gifts on Mills Road in North Saanich. Planning for the feast begins every year in February, with Sarah handling the logistics and Crystal organizing participants. Every participant has to have an emphasis on local, sustainable and zero waste – they are encouraged to get creative with how they serve their food and drinks, using everything from clam shells to lettuce leaves to bamboo to present their items on.
“We don’t do that typical food festival where everyone goes and the garbage bins are overflowing,” says Sarah. Those attending the Feast of Fields can purchase a wood platter for $10 either ahead of time or once at the Feast to place their food and drinks on while touring the event.
“People are often very disconnected from where their food comes from,” says Sarah, which is why it’s important, she emphasizes, for the Feast to be hosted at a local farm venue and to bring the public to where the food is actually grown. The importance of good ingredients and moving away from highly processed food is highlighted in the many delectable options produced by each year’s participants. There are usually around 40 participants involved each year, approximately 20 food and 20 alcohol + non-alcohol, including Q at the Empress, Toque Catering, Church & State Wines, Wildfire Organic Bakery and many, many more. Many local sponsors such as Whole Foods and Shady Spaces (which donate all the tents for the event) come together along with around 40 volunteers who are relied on to keep the day running smoothly with set up, tear down, running ice, helping with parking etc. A silent auction fundraiser is another highlight, as well as musical performances throughout the afternoon.
This year, parking will be in the Thrifty’s warehouse parking lot and the airport loop is conveniently located for those looking to bike to Snowdon House (there will be bike parking available too). Round-trip buses are organized each year as well with several pick-up and drop off locations in the Victoria area and these tickets must be purchased ahead of time. The 600 available Feast tickets (and there are youth tickets available for those under 19) usually do tend to sell out so be sure to get yours soon if you haven’t already! Visit www.feastoffields.com.