Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your guide to the best locally crafted fare

Available in Canada and the US, April 5, 2016 (TouchWood Editions)


Entries in farming (10)


Video: Urban Agriculture Meeting the Needs in Unlikely Places

In March 2013, I was an invited speaker at the Alberta Institute of Agrologists' Annual Conference. It took place at the gloriously beautiful Banff Centre, in Banff, Alberta. Here's the video of my slideshow presentation. Other presentations from this conference are viewable at the Alberta Land-use Knowledge Network's website.


Slow Food Canada Conference, April 25 to 28, Osoyoos, BC, Canada

There are so many good things happening in the Okanagan Valley this spring and summer. Let's start here:

Click image to enlargeI have been a Slow Food member for over a decade. It's very exciting to see how so many great food and wine people are coming together to make this an unforgettable conference. Please note, you don't have to be a Slow Food member to participate in the events above. You just need to be interested in the story behind the best ingredients, best chefs and cooks, and best wine in the country. See you there!

On April 25th to 28th The Annual Slow Food Canada National Meeting is being held in Osoyoos British Columbia at Watermark Beach Resort. This is the first time it is being held in British Columbia, and the first time in a small agriculture community.

This is a gathering of food communities from across Canada with a commitment to good, clean, fair food. The meetings and conference will include: Our Lieutenant Governor for British Columbia, our First Nations, workshops on Food Sovereignty, Food Security, Procurement, Agriculture in the classroom, Sustainable Seafood, Farm and Winery Tours, Slow Fish, Profiling Flavours of the Thompson Okanagan, the events for all three days will be about farming – our land – our people.

I have attached a document which profiles the sequence of events for your information. The Market on the Saturday is certain to be a wonderful opportunity for our local artisans, farmers and community to connect. The evening dinners on Friday and Saturday are fundraising dinners, with more than 20 Executive Chefs from our region showcasing our local producers and their Culinary  excellence. Our regional Wineries are partnering hand in hand with our Chef’s showcasing the complimentary flavours of our winemakers brilliance.

We have options for locals to participate as well as individuals to register and participate in the entire program. Please go to to register – or if you are able to participate only in one or both of the dinners, and markets – please email Special slow food sleepover rates are available for participants at Watermark Beach Resort.

Follow Slow Food Thompson-Okanagan on Facebook.


PSA: Edmonton hosts national food security conference, Nov 1-4, 2012

(While I’m sad that I’ll miss this interesting and important conference, I’m thrilled it will be in Edmonton. I'm posting the press release information for Powering Up! Food for the Future.)

--from press release:

EDMONTON - Food Safety, Food Security, Food Defense, Food Sovereignty ??? What do these mean? With Albertans reeling from the biggest recall of meat in our history, and the City of Edmonton developing a Food and Agriculture Strategy, hundreds of people and organizations from across the country who are working on food issues are preparing to converge upon Edmonton for the 7th National Assembly of Food Secure Canada (FSC). Powering up! Food for the Future, will be hosted for the first time in the west at NAIT from November 1-4, 2012 and is being organized in collaboration with the provincial network, Growing Food Security in Alberta (GFSA).  

This biennial event will bring together close to 400 people: community workers, activists, academics, farmers, community workers, youth, Indigenous and Northern peoples to share, learn, and strengthen their commitment to Food Secure Canada’s core goals:  zero hunger, healthy and safe food, ecological agriculture. Food Secure Canada’s broad and diverse movement has worked for many years to define a clear policy agenda that is summarized in Resetting the Table: A People’s Food Policy for Canada.  Many of the issues that have come to light in the XL meat recall – food safety, food security, health, environment, labour, animal well-bring, access to information and the inherent problems of such large-scale production– are addressed in the People’s Food Policy. The people gathering in Edmonton know not only what is wrong with the food system as it is, they also have a wealth of knowledge and experience on how to work together to fix it. Many of them are already doing so in their own communities!

This year’s theme is Powering Up! Food for the Future, and includes an agenda of four plenary sessions, over 40 workshops and several network meetings.  The Assembly is an opportunity to showcase the innovation occurring within Alberta, and share, successes, and lessons learned from across Canada. Plenary topics include a critical look at the elitism of the “local food” movement; a discussion between activists and federal MPs about the obstacles to food policy change; the sustainability problems of cheap, convenient and fast food and energy; and the future directions of food activism.  Northern food security issues will be specially profiled this year throughout the program.

This event will be both inspiring and thought-provoking, taking a hard look at the obstacles and work needed to improve Canada’s food system for producers, consumers, and the next generation.  Amongst other topics, participants will discuss: Northern food insecurity; hunger and the right to food in Canada; seeds and resilience; health and sustainability; meat and industrial agriculture; food policy councils; GM crops; migrant workers’ rights; children and gardening; financing the next generation of farmers; new funding models; permaculture and aquaponics; challenges for the coop movement and much more.

Registration is now open to the public.  For general information and program information

Two events are open to the public without registration for the entire event:

(1)  Public evening event of lively discussion on Energy, Resilience and the Future of Food will feature some leading thinkers on the links between the climate and the food crises.  Hosted by Jim Hole, the panel will include Pat Mooney, Mike Lewis, Eriel Deranger and Augusta Henriques.  This event takes place on Friday, November 2 at 7:00 pm at the Expo Centre. A voluntary protein food Food Bank donation or cash contribution is suggested.

(2)  The Taste and Sounds of Alberta, a feast and farmer’s market featuring the best of Alberta food and drink and will include a program of music, arts and crafts.  It takes place at NAIT’s Common Market Area on Saturday November 3 from 6:30-9:30 pm.  Tickets are $30. To book your ticket/s to be picked up at NAIT on the night of the event send your request to

Opportunities for interviews and to learn more!

  • Monday October 22 at 2:00 at Three Banana’s Café (9918 102 Avenue T5J 3N5) talk to Susan Roberts, members of Slow Food Edmonton and Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE) Edmonton at Powering up! Bringing local food players together
  • Tuesday October 23 at noon at NAIT talk to the local Powering up! team at NAIT.  Call Susan Roberts for the NAIT Location
  • Thursday Oct 25 at 2:00 at the Food Bank (11508 120 ST T5G 2Y2) talk to Susan Roberts, Mack Male and Marjorie Benz - stories of food accessibility, food adequacy, gaps in the food system
  • Friday Oct 26 at City Hall talk to Susan Roberts and others regarding the City of Edmonton Food and Ag Strategy - How it stacks up so far nationally? - time TBA



PSA: Meet Your Maker farmer-chef event in the Okanagan, April 16, 2012

Photo courtesy of FarmFolk/CityFolk.I just got a press kit from FarmFolk/CityFolk, a Vancouver-based Canadian organization that puts on great events that brings city consumers together with farmers, about a new event in West Kelowna on April 16. The event is called Meet Your Maker. It's a networking event tailored to small businesses, like independent restaurants, to encourage them to use locally produced foods on their menus.

I've been to a number of their wildly successful Feast of Fields events. Now FarmFolk/CityFolk is having a networking event for chefs and farmers to meet and hopefully generate some economic activity on the local foods and independent restaurant level. I'm pretty excited that one of the guest speakers is Chef Michael Lyon, from Kelowna's Hotel Eldorado’s Lakeside Restaurant. (Cross promotion: The Hotel Eldorado is the host hotel of the 2012 Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop that I am currently in the midst of organizing. And I chose "The El" because I LOVE it. It's the perfect indie boutique hotel and restaurant in the Okanagan's Wine Country.)

Here's a quote from the Meet Your Maker press release itself:

Meet Your Maker is modeled after Portland’s annual Farmer-Chef Connection event that started in 2000. Since then, their network has grown to over 250 producers and 150 buyers who are collectively doing more than $19 million in annual business. Meet Your Maker has expanded the idea to include farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors, distributors, retailers, food delivery, restaurants and caterers. You are all part of our food system. Total sales & business deals generated at our Vancouver MEET YOUR MAKER event was $268,000 … and, we’re growing!


  • Keynote speakers Donna Dennison, Little Creek Gardens and Chef Michael Lyon, Hotel Eldorado’s Lakeside Restaurant
  • Green Table Network – Greening the restaurant industry, interactive workshop
  • Moderated Panel: From Farm to Fork: Building a sustainable supply chain
  • 2 Structured networking sessions (Speed-dating style) – Session 1: PRODUCERS stand at your table and greet Buyers.  Session 2: BUYERS stand at your table and greet Producers.  Producers (farmers, ranchers, food processors, fishers, etc.) we suggest you bring products (if you have any during this time of year), photos of your farm, etc. to put on your table when you arrive in the morning.
  • Delicious local potluck lunch – suggest what you can contribute when you register!

Monday April 16, 2012
9am – 3:30pm
Westbank Lions Hall Community Centre
2- 2466 Main St, Westbank (West Kelowna)

Registration is $50 for all attendees. Advance purchase only.

Registration deadline April 9.

Visit the Meet Your Maker webpage to purchase tickets and for more info.

Click this thumbnail to see the event poster in full size.


Meet Your Urban Farmer, short film series from Vancouver, Canada

There's a chapter in my book on Vancouver, Canada. I describe it as being one of the greenest cities I've ever been to:

In other cities, I had grown accustomed to creeping along hte streets looking for a square of green that would let me know that I had finally found the urban food garden I was looking for. In Vancouver, I often had to confirm that I was in the right community garden, on that block!" (excerpt from my book Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution, p. 162.)

Well, this morning, a friend emailed me a link to a great new short film series from Vancouver called Meet Your Urban Farmer. From the looks of the trailer, this is going to be a look at the people in Vancouver growing food in unexpected places. I am looking forward to the release of the installments starting March 2012. I wrote about SOLEfood farm's on Hastings Street in the Vancouver chapter of the book. Here's a link to the blog posts I wrote immediately after my interviews with Seann Dory. If you can grow tomatoes, peppers and French Breakfast radishes like this on a rehabilitated garbage-infested parking lot on the Downtown East Side, then urban ag is most certainly able to change the world:)