Harvest feasting

All through this long hot summer, I could barely look at the stove. Cooking seemed like medieval torture after a day spent sweating just sitting still. As anyone who’s been reading this blog knows, we ate a lot of cold cucumbers and tomatoes from our urban garden—and more than our fair share of popsicles.

But I’m delighted my enthusiasm for cooking has returned. Maybe it’s some sort of ancestral hangover from the days when my forebearers spent the fall laying away food for winter, but as soon as the temperature dips, all I want to do is cook—and eat. Of course, it’s easy to want to cook when you get to work with raw materials like this:

Small but mighty: the tomatoes keep on giving

And this past weekend was something of an orgy of harvest eating. Saturday was The Stop‘s Good Food for All festival, which included tons of fabulous (free) food and a cooking demonstration by the kids who attend its after-school program (see my post here about some of the innovative ideas coming out of The Stop on how to get kids engaged in food justice issues) .

There were also lots of fun activities for kids to get their hands dirty looking for worms in compost bins (my squeamish boys insisted on digging through with a stick instead of their fingers…), a chance for children to vote for what they’d like to see on the table for kids in the upcoming mayoralty election (pizza ovens in parks? ice cream for all? monthly farm visits for all children!) and, of course, the requisite bouncy castle. The genius of this festival is the mix of communities that it attracts—from the low-income folks who live in social housing and frequent The Stop’s programs to fruit gleaners, urban farmers and lots and lots of families from the west end.

Later that day, we drove up to The New Farm near Creemore, where organic farmers Brent and Gillian were hosting a harvest festival of their own. There was a theatre performance, a rocking band that had everyone (from little kids to senior citizens) up dancing and, of course, amazing food—all of it inside their 150-year-old barn strung up with twinkle lights. There were local people and people up from the city, neighbours and old friends (the money raised goes to The Stop). It was magical.

Seems the fall harvest brings out the best in everyone. For me, the weekend was another reminder of how food can be an amazing tool to help connect us all.

[photo by Andrea Curtis]

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