An expected 1500 people will cycle to discover and celebrate their local food this weekend with Slow Food Vancouver’s Summer Cycle Tour in the Fraser Valley. The third annual tour allows participants to become familiar with the roots of their local food, visiting family-run farms, meeting producers and learning about agriculture, while enjoying good home-grown food.
British Columbia (BC)’s Fraser Valley boasts great agricultural biodiversity, as it has an ideal climate, soil, and water conditions for cultivation and breeding. Over 200 foods are produced across a small area, however many small-scale farmers find it hard to compete in mainstream food distribution systems.
‘A lot of small-scale farmers in Canada are faced with the issue of how to make money as they are not big enough’, explained convivium co-leader Joanne MacKinnon. ‘One farm, for example, can’t make enough money from their cattle, so they also have pottery and accomodation ventures to support this. This is not uncommon in BC or in Canada for that matter – people often have to go off-farm to support themselves’. The convivium hopes that the cycle tour will raise awareness of this issue and increase support for local agriculture.
The tours were originally the brainchild of an organic potato grower in another part of BC who decided four years ago to gather some friends for a leisurely cycle to visit farmers. The following year 1,200 people turned up. This weekend’s cycle expects 1,500 enthusiasts.
‘People enjoy it because it’s a leisurely cycle tour’, said convivium leader Christina Beaudoins. ‘It is scenic and very beautiful, there is music and food samples, you can meet the farmers and chat with other people. Then you go to the next stop and eat more food. Last year 700 people enjoyed the tour despite having rain.’
This year the event has reached a new level of recognition, receiving a public message of support from BC Premier Gordon Campbell, who described the tour as a ‘great way to explore and learn about the region’s agricultural zones and encourage individuals to support their local farms’.
‘We feel the cycle tours have made a significant contribution to raising the profile of eating locally and of Terra Madre Day in our area’, said Joanne. Net proceeds from the summer cycle tours will be used to sponsor two young farmers to attend Terra Madre 2010.
For more information visit www.slowfoodvancouver.com