Eating local is a popular concept in the Comox Valley, with its long growing season and wealth of farms producing all kinds of amazing food. The taste of a freshly harvested tomato in the height of summer and the comforting world of possibilities presented by a rich winter squash are but two of the many gustatory joys that unite humanity. Making these delights available to our entire community is at the core of the values that guide the work we do at LUSH Valley Food Action Society, a food security non-profit organization based in Tin Town, Courtenay.
As Food Access Manager, I approach my work with LUSH through a hedonistic lens. Preparing food with beautiful produce is one of life’s simple pleasures, and I wish to make that experience available to everyone in our community. From my perspective, achieving this goal starts with each of us actively working to support farmers in our area.
From an organizational perspective, supporting local production holds a world of exciting and delicious possibilities. Some of the most prolific and reliable crops in the Comox Valley aren’t necessarily staple foods at mainstream grocers, but this presents wonderful opportunities for food education, inspiration, and celebration. It’s all about being flexible and embracing new foods. If we focus our food preferences on the crops that grow reliably and abundantly right here, we can set the groundwork for developing a distinctly local food culture.
I’m of the opinion that a community’s food culture begins at the farm, so what better way for LUSH to raise awareness and support for the cause than through a fundraiser at an organic farm? At the time of writing, we’re prepping for our second annual Farm to Table Fundraiser, scheduled for September 18. This multi-course, long-table lunch or dinner at Amara Farm features a menu created by LUSH Valley’s new chef, Taylore Darnel, in partnership with The Farmer’s Kitchen Food Truck. This harvest-time event will celebrate the culinary flavours of the Valley in a pretty, pastoral setting, accompanied by live music and local beverages. For LUSH, the event is an opportunity to showcase local products with the hopes of inspiring attendees to seek them out for future meals at home. For attendees, it’s a beautiful gathering with friends over a delicious meal that helps others less fortunate to access healthy, local food.
The work of building a thriving local food culture—one that can out-compete the cheap food from abroad—is a huge undertaking that can feel overwhelming. LUSH is always looking for creative ways to support local farms, celebrate abundant food, and inspire folks to create interesting meals, all while raising funds so that we can continue our work.
Over the summer of 2022, the “Wine Wednesdays” series saw LUSH and The Farmer’s Kitchen Food Truck at 40 Knots Winery from 4 until 7 pm, offering casual meals that attendees could enjoy al fresco with wine made on site. These events successfully raised funds for various LUSH initiatives, including the ever-expanding Hot Meal program.
Forging relationships with farms and shifting food preferences is a slow process. Creating the infrastructure required for our local farms to thrive can be resource intensive. But this is what we’re committed to doing at LUSH Valley, and we can’t do it without you. Farmers have enough work on their hands simply getting produce to harvest. It’s up to us to seek out and celebrate their efforts. The more you do so, whether it’s shopping at the Farmers’ Market or attending a culinary fundraiser, the more LUSH can live up to its name: Let us share the harvest.