Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sharing Farm Garlic Festival

This Sunday my family and I spend time at the Terra Nova Sharing Farm for their 5th Annual Garlic Festival. I have had this date marked on my calendar for months in eager anticipation. I like spending time at the Sharing Farm and supporting the good work that they do for my community, growing in season local produce for the food bank. I love garlic more than I can express, and I look forward to sampling the garlic treats they make at the farm each year - garlic ice cream, roasted garlic and garlic bread. This year did not disappoint because they had enough activities to keep all ages interested, with music, crafts, food, and workshops.

I made a beeline for the garlic ice cream, which we unfortunately missed out on again this year. Luckily we managed to get some salted caramel ice cream just before that sold out, too. Next I had to check out the market with goods produced at the Sharing Farm: honey, dried herbs,  lavender bath salts, vegetables, plants, and more. I bought honey from their own beehives, which they increased this year with a grant. One of the volunteers shared with us their plans for expanding the types of flowers they plant to attract more bees to increase production.

Of course I bought garlic! Last year I planted garlic in my garden from both West Coast Seeds and the Sharing Farm, but I think the Sharing Farm garlic did better because it was grown in my specific area and well suited to the growing conditions. I loaded up with $25 worth of both soft and hard neck varieties. I loved the garlic scapes from my garden last year, from the hard neck varieties I grew, but I would really like to do some garlic braids, which require the soft neck garlic.

We watched a braiding demonstration where these beautiful garlic braids were made.

We didn't get a chance to try out the garlic treats being prepared by the cob oven (roasted garlic and garlic bread) because of the long lineups. There is no way my youngest would survive a long wait. There were several how-to workshops that I would have enjoyed attending if I didn't have wee ones in tow.

I am so pleased to see all that the Sharing Farm does to promote local, organic food, but also how to make environmentally friendly choices.

The City of Richmond water station, which encourages people to
drink our high quality tap water and fill up reusable water bottles.

There was a kid friendly area of eco-minded activities to complete to earn stamps toward a smoothie and gummy treats. These included upcycling crafts, matching game with trivia about green transportation choices, and a recycling race. The craft activity has inspired my girls, and as I type this I can hear them going through my recycling materials in my kitchen and making more crafts. My favourite part was watching the volunteers make the fruit smoothies with a pedal power blender.

In the other activity area my girls enjoyed the 4Cats art activities, which included a spinning paint craft, and participating in a group painting of Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night". I geeked out a bit because last night we watched the Doctor Who episode where the 11th doctor and Amy meet Van Gogh.

I think my girls' favourite activity was braiding garlic necks to make garlic crowns. We noticed some boys making garlic neck swords, which I thought was a cute idea. What a great way to make use of all parts of the plant!

Before we left we had fun in the hay pile and I saw a photo opportunity. 

It was fun running into people I know and getting caught up on our summer's events.

Before we left, we wandered around the Sharing Farm garden, and various community and school gardens to compare what they were growing to our garden at home. We have made a list of a few things we would like to try growing next year. Check out the amazing bean towers!

This year seems even bigger than last year, with bigger crowds than I remember. I really appreciated how the Sharing Farm and their sponsors handled all the added people by having valet bike parking, and a bus shuttle from the city works yard by the dyke to alleviate the parking and traffic congestion.

I'm already looking forward to next year's garlic festival. We'll have to go nice and early to get the garlic ice cream!

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