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British Columbia’s best known region for vines and orchards, hot summers and beachy family getaways is getting ready to stage its first Feast of Fields. While the date and host farm for the grassroots event are still forthcoming, the Okanagan’s Feast of Field endeavors to do what FarmFolk/CityFolk’s Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island signature farm-to-table experiences have been achieving for more than 15 years.

“Feast of Fields is FarmFolk/CityFolk’s annual fundraising event. It showcases the strong connections between farmer and chef and highlights producers of BC wine, beer and artisanal food products,” says Bonita Magee, Project Manager for the organization. “Feast of Fields acts as a catalyst for bringing a region’s food and agricultural communities together while raising awareness of the importance and enjoyment of eating locally.”

The idea for an Okanagan Feast of Fields was spearheaded by Cabana Grille Chef and Co-owner Ned Bell. Bell will remain a part of the board and organizing team that will be comprised of passionate local volunteers who are excited and committed to shining a spotlight on the many producers, creators and artisans in the area.

A search of Okanagan-based talent for a Feast of Fields Event Coordinator determined that Rhys Pender was the right person for the important role. “Rhys’ experience and contacts in the region will be a benefit to executing this event and his passion for local food and wine is very inspiring.” Magee adds, “there was a lot of interest in this groundbreaking position and it was a difficult decision given the exceptional expertise of the applicants in the Okanagan region. We are confident we made the right choice and are very excited to be organizing the region’s first Feast of Fields.”

Rhys Pender is a local food advocate and Okanagan entrepreneur. He owns the wine education business Wineplus+ and is the former owner of Kelowna’s much loved Okanagan Grocery. With over 14 years experience, he is recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts in the wine industry and last fall was one of only nine people in the world to pass the 2008 Master of Wine practical exam. Along with his wife and young family, Rhys lives on an acreage in Cawston where the couple is watching the vines sprout on their newly planted vineyard of Chardonnay and Riesling.

Ottavio at Vancouver Island Feast

The variety, abundance and quality of British Columbia’s bounty ranks with some of the best agricultural regions in the world and the Okanagan is no exception. Feast of Fields provides the public with an up-close-and-personal opportunity to sample and swirl local products while supporting a not-for-profit organization that has been committed to food security projects in British Columbia since 1993.

The Feast of Fields experience takes guests on a delicious journey through the area’s many faces and flavours. Upon arrival at the host farm they are handed a wine glass, a linen napkin and a program that outlines all that’s on offer to see, drink and eat. Wandering throughout the farm, patrons are able to meet the chefs and farmers, the vintners, brewers and food artisans, to taste their products, ask questions, and learn more about where their food comes from.

Host farms also offer farm tours, engaging guests to get a greater understanding about their operations. With ‘the Feast’ moving around from farm to farm, repeat guests become experts at knowing who produces what and where and which restaurants are supporting our local growers and producers.

Proceeds from Feast of Fields benefit the provincial work of FarmFolk/CityFolk and a portion of the first year’s proceeds will benefit their Okanagan-based Seed Security project.

Other Feast of Fields will take place in Vancouver, and on Southern Vancouver Island (the Whistler event is absent from the website, leading one to believe it has been scuttled for 2009).

Tickets go on sale June 1st. Stay tuned to www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca for details.



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