A few weeks ago, the ADG and I travelled to the beautiful Kawartha Lakes area to visit a friend. My friend lives on a farm with two of her friends. Together, the three friends make up one part of a CSA collective called the Kawartha Ecological Growers (KEG). The KEG is unique in that over 20 small, family farms from around the Kawartha Lakes have come together to offer delicious produce, meat and preserves to CSA members in Toronto, all year round. From their site: "Working together allows us to reduce our emissions through shared transportation, build community amongst small scale sustainable growers, and provide a large variety of local, sustainable food to local chefs, eaters and non-profit organizations within 100 miles of the source."
We timed our visit on the weekend of their harvest party for members, friends and fellow farmers. Corn and sausage cooked over a grill. Long tables were filled up with potluck meals. Tents were pitched in the fields. Coolers were filled with ice to chill beverages. Children ran around, giddy on fresh air and open spaces. There was a tomato tasting with about a billion different varieties of tomatoes I had never heard of. The yard was dotted with groups of people chatting and laughing.
The amazing ChocoSol crew were there with their bicycle powered mill, grinding up fresh corn for tortillas and beans. Their specialty chocolate drink was there too. (If you've been to the Hillside music festival in the last few years, you probably have tasted this out of this world, frothy chocolate deliciousness in a cup!)
The party was in part a fundraiser to eventually get this bus running on veggie oil with solar power refrigeration.
Over in another field, an entertainment section was set up, so when everyone had their fill of yummy food and the sun went down....
...we lit the bonfire and the samba band started to play. Everyone shook what their momma gave them rather vigorously. After the samba band, King Roller hit the stage. Their set had to be cut short though, due to a lightening storm. What followed was the craziest, most beautiful light show I have ever seen. The lightening seemed to go on for hours. The ADG and I found a quiet spot in the tomato patch to watch in wonder and awe at what nature can do. The end of the night found people crammed into a tiny shed, dancing until the wee hours to Bollywood tunes. I missed most of that since I was already snuggled nice and cozy in my little tent, listening to the sound of the rain that finally came.
The next day, people slowly crawled out of their tents one by one. Someone put coffee on, more tortillas got made with scrambled eggs and hot peppers. One of the fires was stoked and what corn was left got cooked over the hot coals. More sausage came out. Fresh apples and carrots too. Children ran around and played, small groups of people chatted and laughed. Revelers packed up and trickled out, back to their homes, and the ADG and I rolled on down the country road.
What I really loved about this visit, aside from catching up with a dear friend I rarely have the chance to see, was the sense of joy, celebration and community from a group of people getting together to share food and have a good time. There was a feeling of letting loose after a long season of hard work and a kicking up of the heels for a job well done. It was a twinning of food and festivity the way it should be. There were no big-box, plastic platters of dried out veggies and dip. This was no pop and chip party. All the food came from a place that had meaning for most of the people there. It was food that told a story of farmer, soil, rain, eater and the relationship between them all. It was a kind of experience I never get from the grocery store, and I was so very glad to have been a part of it.
If you live in the GTA check out the KEG's CSA.