Slow Food Cycle Chilliwack

This past Sunday, M and I participated in the Slow Food Cycle Chilliwack. Slow Food is a movement that began in Italy in 1986 in opposition to fast food, and celebrates appreciation for local, sustainable and community oriented food.

We got our bikes out to Chilliwack, and started our tour at the Chilliwack Visitor Centre, overall visiting 9 farms and processing places, over approximately 25km. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and cycling through the community to visit the farms was a great way to spend the day.

Slow Food Cycle

Greendale Herb & Vine

Greendale Herb & Vine

Small Scale Mixed Veggie Farms

We visited 5 different mixed veggie farms, which were all quite different. Our favourites were Greendale Herb & Vine and Abundant Acres Family Farm, where the farmers were very welcoming and answered a lot of questions, and were happy to share their farming practices. As a wannabe farmer, it was very cool to see different ways that people are farming and marketing. The cycle tour was a great way for people to get directly to the farm, have a chance to look around and meet the farmers, and connect with their community. Many of the people on the tour were from Chilliwack, which leads me to believe that it’s effective at engaging locals, not just bringing in interested out-of-towners like

Abundant Acres Family Farm

Abundant Acres Family Farm

myself.

Chillwack, in my mind, is often perceived as a bastion of conventional corn and dairy farming, and certainly when you go around, you see a lot of corn, and notice a lot of the large barns that house dairy cows. But it was great to see that there are a growing number of small scale, organic farmers getting a toe-hold in the valley.

Cheese and Flour

I had been excited to visit Anita’s Organic flour mill and Happy Days Dairy when I started the tour, hoping to see more about how they work, and learn more about the sourcing of local grains and goat’s milk. Unfortunately, Anita’s wasn’t doing tours, so I didn’t learn very much at that stop. Happy Days was supposed to be doing tours on the hour, and we timed our arrival accordingly, but found the tour had started a good bit earlier, so we missed half of it. I was also hoping to see an actual goat dairy, where the goats are, but Happy Days is only the processing location. We did have the goat’s milk ice cream, though, which I loved.

05 Slow Food Chilliwack  (03)

Overall Impressions

I was a bit disappointed with the Chilliwack Slow Food Cycle. 2 years ago, we had happened upon the Agassiz Slow Food Cycle on our way back from a camping trip, and they had much more of a festival atmosphere, with each stop having some kind of table with food sales like hazelnut burgers or raclette.  This time, very few of the stops were selling anything substantial to eat (some pie, ice cream, cookies), and many of the location hosts seemed rather unengaged. While it was a great day, and a great way to see the farms, I think that Agassiz did a much better job, and that’s where I would go if I did it again.

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