Words :: Laura Ward
There is a great sweetness to discover new layers of love for a place the longer you know it. The Sea to Sky is one that keeps unveiling to me, especially so when it comes to the local food scene. The growing season is short in the Pacific Northwest but the ways to engage with edible plants and farmers during that time has become really diversified. Here are my top 8 ways to engage with the local food scene in the Sea to Sky.
1. CSA Veggie Boxes
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”, where locals have the opportunity to pre-pay for weekly farm produce at the beginning of the season. This agreement allows farmers provides invaluable seed money to literally seed all the plants that will be harvested throughout the season. In return, CSA members receive a weekly box, or “share”, of fresh produce over the course of the season.
2. Farm Stands
Just like Okanagan’s famous fruit stands along the highway, certain farms in the Sea to Sky sell veggies straight on their farm. Laughing Crow Organics has a permanent farmstand during the growing season at 7698 Pemberton Meadows Road. Others, like Plenty Wild Farms, host a pop-up farm stand on certain days of the week.
3. Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s Markets are a convenient way to buy straight from the multiple producers in one spot. It’s also a fun weekly tradition, where you can buy you weekly veggies, listen to some tunes, and feel like a member of our vibrant communities.
Local Market Times & Locations:
Pemberton Farmers Market (Fridays 3-6 in the Community Barn), Squamish Farmers Market (Saturdays 10-3 next to Junction Park), Whistler Farmers Market (Wednesdays 2-7 & Sundays 11-4 in the Upper Village).
4. U-Pick Strawberries and Blueberries
North Arm Farm does a U-pick strawberry patch every year. It’s become quite the tourist destination, but a super worthwhile adventure with a friend or the family in the summer.
5. “Local-forward” Grocery Stores
6. Backyard Gardens
Tonnes of resources are online now about how to participate in growing your own food. Local companies like SOLScapes can design, install, and help manage your veggie garden.
7. Community Gardens
This is a clutch choice for anyone who doesn’t have a space to plant a garden on their own property. Membership fees are usually something around $75 for a community plot, which likely includes all your water and compost needs.
Squamish CAN operates three community gardens, two in the heart of downtown (corner of Cleveland Ave. & Main St., and corner of 2nd Ave & Main St.), and one in the Garibaldi Highlands (corner of Hwy 99 and Mamquam Rd.)
GROW Whistler includes four greenhouses; two at Spruce Grove Park, one at Myrtle Philip School and one at Alpha Lake Park. Cheakamus Community Garden, in Bayly Park, has ninety 4ft x 8ft outdoor boxes are available for outdoor growing.
Pemberton has the Pemberton Creek Community garden at 7374 Sea-to-Sky Hwy.
Two annual events that come to mind are the Slow Food Cycle and Squamish CAN’s Farm to Table Fundraising Dinner.
Pemberton Valley Supermarket puts on a 45 km choose-your-pace cycle up Pemberton Meadows Road with stops at various farms and vendors along the route. This year, the Slow Food Cycle ended at “The Beer Farmers” – the newest brewery in Pemberton that works to grow their own hops and barley to make their beer.
Squamish CAN describe their Farm to Table Dinner as an “al fresco multi-course, farm to table dinner experience located at a charming certified organic hops, flower, mushroom, and honey farm.” Guests enjoy seasonal ingredients from farms in the Sea to Sky prepared by a local chef, and are provided with a farm tour.
Ultimately, if you’re stoked to get involved in growing your own food or supporting those who grow it for you — the options are alive. Fuel your adventure with nutritious food that gives back to the land and local economy.
Laura Ward is a permaculture lover and farmer based in Pemberton, BC.