Archive for May, 2014

Savour the season’s best: feasts, fundraisers and more

Friday, May 30th, 2014
Photo: Vicki (via Flickr) Creative Commons 2.0 Generic

Photo: Vicki (via Flickr)
Creative Commons 2.0 Generic


Savour Ottawa Harvest Table – August 17

One of the culinary highlights of the summer, the Savour Ottawa Harvest Table returns for its fourth consecutive year. You won’t want to miss this multi-course, family-style feast prepared by Ottawa’s finest chefs in partnership with local farmers. It always sells out, so get your tickets now! (All tickets are sold in advance – you can’t buy one at the door). Regular admission includes a ticket to the Harvest Table lunch, and two drink tickets so you can sample some of Ottawa’s best craft breweries and wineries. Locally sourced non-alcoholic beverages will also be provided.

A limited number of Cream of the Crop VIP tickets are available for those who want the full foodie experience including a guided market tour, appetizers and cocktails, plus admission to the luncheon.

When:                 Sunday, August 17

Where:                Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Brewer Park

Cost:                     $75/person ($90/person Cream of the Crop VIP)




Ottawa Foodie Challenge – June 1

Calling all foodies! If you’re up for a fun scavenger hunt, join the Fourth Annual Ottawa Foodie Challenge and help out the Ottawa Food Bank at the same time.

The morning of the event, you’ll receive a list of foodie destinations, along with tasks to perform at each. The more tasks you complete the more points you receive and the better your chances of being crowned Ottawa Foodie Challenge Champion. All proceeds go the Ottawa Food Bank.

When:                  Sunday June 1, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where:                Starting at Shopify Inc, 126 York St; ending at The Albion Rooms, 33 Nicholas St.

Cost:                     $50 per person – teams of two


Food Aid BBQ and Breakfast with Mayor’s Rural Expo – June 6

This annual event raises funds for the Ottawa Food Bank’s Food Aid program, where all money raised goes to purchasing local ground beef, which is distributed to member agencies to give to people in need.

This year’s Food Aid Day welcomes the Mayor’s Rural Expo for the second year in a row, showcasing the businesses of Ottawa rural communities.

Activities will include a $5 pancake breakfast, a BBQ with hamburgers from The WORKS, live entertainment, and more.

Where:                1) City Hall front lawn; and 2) NHCAP-Skyline Building by Tower 2, corner of Baseline and Merivale

When:                  June 6, 7 a.m. at City Hall; The WORKS BBQ 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at both locations



Permaculture Institute of Eastern Ontario Workshops – May & June

Ecological Design & Gardening: Introduction to Permaculture

May 31- June 1
Perth, ON

Retreat for Permaculture Practitioners

June 21-22
Rockland, ON


Farmer Training Workshop: Post-Harvest Handling for Vegetable Producers – June 23

Find out why post-production activities are key to successful small-scale vegetable farming at this workshop, presented by horticultural scientist and postharvest physiology specialist Dr. Shamel Alam-Eldein. The session will cover the gamut of harvest-to-sale activities, identifying ways to maintain quality and freshness at each step. Topics will include produce maturity, storage conditions such as temperature and humidity, and preventing pests and pathogens. You’ll also get tips on how and when to harvest, as well as advice on containers and packaging, storage conditions, produce transport and presentation for sale.

When:                  Monday June 23, 6-9 p.m.

Where:                Just Food, 2389 Pepin Court, Ottawa
Cost:                     $30, payable at the door (cash or cheque)
Register:   or call 613-699-6850, x15

Volunteer opportunities

Just Food Farm

The Just Food Farm in Blackburn Hamlet is looking for experienced volunteers available weekdays to help with general farm maintenance and property work – particularly over the spring.  This could include lawn mowing and weed trimming, painting, construction and building repair. Get in touch if you have skills to share and are interested in being a part of a growing farm project

Contact:      or 613-699-6850 x15

Torbolton SPIN Farm

Want to try your hand at food gardening? Or turn your backyard veggie plot into a revenue producer? Join the small plot intensive, or SPIN, garden at the Torbolton Institute, just 20 minutes north of Kanata. Benefit from access to SPIN learning resources, such as grower’s guides and marketing aids, and practice food-growing techniques in the SPIN farm’s outdoor classroom. SPIN farming is a market garden system geared to producing high-revenue crops on as little as half an acre.

The Torbolton Institute is an innovations hub whose goal is to make Ottawa locally food secure by 2020.

When:                  Saturdays, 1-4 p.m.

Where:                Torbolton Institute, 3924 Woodkilton Road, Woodlawn

Info:           or contact

Opportunities for farmers, landowners

Partnering organic farmers with Wholefoods

This is a great wholesale opportunity for local organic farmers and processors to work directly with Wholefoods Market, and there’s no deadline.


New funding available

New funding is available to farmers and rural landowners who want to protect water quality. The Rideau Valley Rural Clean Water Program has introduced new project categories to its existing grant program. As a result, eligible landowners can receive funding for up to 90% of project costs and grants of up to $7,500.



 Are there any food events coming up that you’d like to share with Earthward readers? 

6 ways to get kids excited about cooking and healthy eating

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
May 14 is Food Revolution Day, a Jamie Oliver campaign to get kids turned on to cooking healthy food from scratch. Photo: LilyWhitesParty (via Flickr) Creative Commons License 2.0

May 14 is Food Revolution Day, a Jamie Oliver campaign to get kids turned on to cooking healthy food from scratch.
Photo: LilyWhitesParty (via Flickr)
Creative Commons License 2.0

May 16, 2014 marks the third international Food Revolution Day led by iconic British chef, TV personality, restaurateur, author and healthy food activist Jamie Oliver. Celebrating the importance of cooking good food from scratch, the campaign aims to inspire kids and adults with a love of food and an appreciation of cooking as a fun, life-altering skill that makes us healthier and happier. It’s also a catalyst for local cooking events and activities around the world, such as the cooking demos for kids slated for the Ottawa Farmers Market on Sunday, May 18.

Because of overreliance on hyper-processed convenience foods, many people lack the basic skills and confidence to prepare their own food and their health suffers as a result, Oliver says. He points to soaring rates of obesity among young people which in turn increase their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses.

To mark Food Revolution Day, Earthward talked to Judi Varga-Toth, an Ottawa chef and local food activist who has held workshops on healthy eating with kids and adults and turned her own five children on to good, fresh food. For a number of years, she owned and operated an eco-catering service called Credible Edibles that prepared tasty, healthy, plant-based meals for meetings, schools and daycare.  (Try one of her recipes.)

Here are her tips on getting kids excited about eating and cooking good food.

  1. Get them involved! Whether you forage for fiddleheads with your kids or take them to a farmers’ market, find ways for them to connect with food – where it’s grown and who grows it. They’re more likely to eat and enjoy what they’ve prepared themselves, so involve them in the process from start to finish. Have them choose a few fresh ingredients and google recipes; then help them pick something simple like a salad or snack that they can put together with just a few utensils. Preparing food from scratch offers lots of teaching moments, Judi says. For example, kids get to practice using basic math skills (measuring ingredients) and making more conscious choices about food. They also benefit from the chance to do research on the foods and recipes they’re working with. For example, what vitamins and minerals are in these ingredients? Where are they grown? What’s the cultural background of this food?
  1. Turn healthier eating into a game or contest. A blind taste test is a great way to motivate kids to move outside their comfort zone. Let’s say your kids like cucumber but won’t try zucchini. With a blindfold on, they may not be able to taste a difference between the two vegetables and will have discovered for themselves that there’s no reason to shun zucchini.
  1. Surprise them. Get kids excited about broader food issues, such as eating in ways that are gentler on the planet, by piquing their curiosity. For example, in one of her workshops, Judi Varga-Toth asked children where the garlic in the grocery store came from. They were surprised when she explained that most of it is from China, and even more surprised when she added that Eastern Ontario is a prime garlic-growing region. One of the children asked: “If we grow it here, why do we get so much from China?” Kids get it, Judi says – sometimes better than adults do.
  1. Walk the talk. Don’t expect kids to eat healthier or dabble in cooking if they see you scarfing down fast food most nights. As much as possible, try to eat fresh whole foods, cook with your kids, and eat together as a family.
  1. Check out online resources. For example the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) developed the Freggie™ Children’s Program as part of their overall efforts to encourage consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Elements include an in-school program to help children understand the benefits of choosing fresh fruits and veg and other healthy foods.
  1. Don’t give up. It can take a while for kids to change a habit, just as it is for us. Give them time and be patient – odds are good they’ll grow to appreciate good food and to value the cooking skills you’ve helped them develop.

For more on Food Revolution Day, visit FRD event pages on Facebook, or follow the campaign on Twitter: @foodrev, Youtube or Instagram: @foodrev 

Tweet about your own FRD activities, using hashtag #FRD2014.


Do your kids like to cook? How did you encourage them to get started?


Elizabeth Kilvert’s recipe for spring slaw with baby kale, carrot, apple and cabbage

Monday, May 12th, 2014


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kilvert, The Unrefined Olive

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kilvert, The Unrefined Olive

Warmer weather means luscious salads made with fresh local produce. This recipe for spring slaw comes from Elizabeth Kilvert, owner of The Unrefined Olive, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar in the Glebe (read my interview with Elizabeth here).

“This slaw makes a lovely side salad, an accompaniment to pulled pork, and a topping on sandwiches,” Elizabeth says. “You can also simmer any leftovers with chicken broth for a tasty soup.”

Local suppliers

A believer in local food and local partnerships, Elizabeth sourced the kale in this recipe from Jambican Studio Gardens, the apples from Hall’s Apple Market, and the olive oil and balsamic vinegar from – of course! – The Unrefined Olive.

About Elizabeth Kilvert 

Elizabeth was working comfortably as a civil servant at Environment Canada when she decided to take a risk and open an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar. The business is the culmination of her passion for food and travel, her life experience and her deep-rooted work ethic. At The Unrefined Olive, Elizabeth strives for a local approach, integrating partnerships, developing networks, and co-promoting as much as possible.

Spring slaw with baby kale, carrot, apple, and cabbage


2 large carrots

2 medium apples, peeled and cored

1/4 purple cabbage

1/4 regular or Napa cabbage

2 cups chopped baby kale

1 tbsp coarse black ground pepper

1/2 cup Serrano Honey Vinegar

1/4 cup Robust Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil

salt to taste


Coarsely grate the carrots, apples, and cabbage or run them through a food processor. Place in a bowl and toss with chopped baby kale.

Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, pepper and salt. Drizzle onto the rest of the ingredients and toss.

This makes a lovely side salad, an accompaniment to pulled pork, and a topping on sandwiches. If there is still salad after a few days simmer with chicken broth to make a soup.

What your favourite spring salad?

The Best of Earthward: 8 ways to shop smarter at farmers markets

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

With so many Ottawa farmers markets opening this month, I thought I’d re-run this popular post from last year on how to shop them smarter.

Photo by Justin Sewell (via Flickr)  Creative Commons license 2.0

Photo by Justin Sewell (via Flickr)
Creative Commons license 2.0

Shopping at farmers markets is one of the joys of the Ottawa growing season. Just-picked produce, newly baked bread, homemade preserves, cooking demonstrations, specialty festivals and fairs: what’s not to love?

You can enjoy the experience even more and shop smarter at the same time by following a few simple steps, says Andy Terauds of Acorn Creek Garden Farm in Carp.  A regular presence at the Ottawa Farmers Market and the Carp Farmers Market, Terauds and his wife, Cindy, grow over 2,000 varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as flowering and vegetable plants. They also sell Cindy’s preserves under the Naturally Cindy’s label.

1. Buy what you like and what looks good.

It may sound obvious, but Terauds says many customers come to the market with a specific recipe in mind and are disappointed to learn that the ingredients they want aren’t in season.  Instead, buy good-looking produce you know you’ll enjoy and then look for a recipe to go with it.  Most vendors can offer suggestions on how to prepare their produce.

2. Sample the food.

If five vendors are selling asparagus, which one do you buy from? According to Terauds, taste should be the clincher. “Try the samples vendors provide. That’s true for corn, too. If it’s not good raw, it’s not good. Better taste is why people buy local food.”

3. Don’t buy from the cheapest vendor.

Selling cheap can be a sign that the taste or quality isn’t up to snuff. What’s more, when you pay farmers a better price, you reward tehm for their hard work and motivate them to keep improving.

4. Come early.

Produce that sits out in the weather deteriorates through the day, so come early for the freshest, most varied selection. If the market opens at 8 a.m., be there at 8 a.m., Terauds counsels. But don’t come earlier because vendors will be setting up and won’t be able give you their full attention. Besides, every vendor has something that’s in short supply; having to sell it before the market opens means less for people who come during business hours.

Rainbow Heritage

Photo by V. Ward

5. Call ahead for big orders.

Need bushels of produce for canning or preserves? Instead of buying them at the market, call the farmer ahead of time to negotiate a price and arrange for delivery.

6. Bring bags and pay cash.

Depending on the weather, bring waterproof bags for breads and cheeses, or a cooler for anything that deteriorates in warm temperatures, such as soft fruit, dairy products or meat.

Since most vendors don’t take credit or debit cards, bring cash, preferably small bills and change.

7. Dress for the weather.

You’ll have a better time if you’re dressed for the weather so make sure you have the proper gear, including suitable footwear.

. Make the market an event.

Shopping at a farmers market is a social experience and one that appeals directly to the senses. Soak it all in. Make your market visit an event. Have a snack, talk to the vendors, watch a chef demonstrate a new recipe. “It’s a different experience to shopping at a supermarket chain,” Terauds says. “Take advantage of the differences and enjoy them.”

To find the market nearest you, check the Ottawa Farmers Market Guide.

How do you shop at farmers markets? What works for you?