Locally Sourced, Locally Cycled East Kelowna

On June 14, We Foraged Our Way through the Agricultural Benchlands of East Kelowna. This is the Story of that Journey

Okanagan agriculture was born here, first on the flatlands that surround Father Pandosy's Mission, then expanding to the rich benchlands of East Kelowna. This fertile cradle was built thousands of years ago, when a massive glacier lake deposited rich silt soil, forming a bench that would one day rise above a much smaller lake at the bottom of the valley. We set off from the edge of that bench overlooking the city and orchards spread out below us. The view was stunning.

The Bikes Were Unloaded...

Not without mishap, as it turned out. You see that left foot of Gord's, closest to the camera? Take a good look, as it will be hidden in a cast for the next several weeks. Ah well! Sometimes, there's a price to be paid for harvesting the gifts of nature.

Our foragers...

Allen - who is very protective of his magazine...
Robert - who never met a Canadian he didn't like
And Jennifer - Our gracious host from Tourism Kelowna

We Strike Out, in Search of Food, Wine and Adventure

In East Kelowna, one can be sure something wonderful lies just around the next bend.

Ahead We Have Places We Have to Be(e)!

Next stop - Meadow Vista Honey Wines.

Meadow Vista Honey Wines

"We Never Want to Imagine a World Without Honey Bees"

"Meadow Vista was born out of the idea that when you combine a passion for farm fresh ingredients, wine & protecting the honey bees, you can create a line up of honey wine + bee-inspired food products for wine lovers + foodies to savour."

First - The Tasting...

Everything here starts with B-ee
These Bees Earn Straight A's
The Bee-Line

Into the Fields

Bee-hind every great mead, there's a Queen, and drones..and workers. 

Where it all comes together...
The Blackberry Patch
And...the hives, of course!

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

A final taste of Ostara - the perfect sweet finish..
To end on a Blissful Note
And we have to buzz off to our next stop - Caldwell Heritage Farm

Caldwell Heritage Farm

"Tucked away in a quiet corner of the forest in Southeast Kelowna you’ll find a little farm unlike any other. And you’ll find a farming family unlike any other, too."

"We came into farming rather unexpectedly. But I’m pleased to say we’ve embraced the venture fully with head, heart and hands."

- Kristi and James

Guess What Honey? We're Farmers!

Kristi explains how two Vancouver urbanites became up close and personal with nature on her family's rural paradise when she inherited it from her parents, Julie and Jake Warkentin.
The diligent foragers heading for greener pastures and finding...
...a Field of Dreams - Red Fife Wheat sprouts as James explains how it will someday be destined for his small-batch distillery

Meeting the Ladies

"These are extremely happy chickens" - Kristi

A palace fit for a hen, complete with Christmas lights and a disco ball.
The ladies sense an imminent feeding...
But first, one must dress suitably for meeting the rulers of this particular roost..
then - kneel before the presence of chicken greatness.

Jake's Treasures

Jake Warkentin loved all things agricultural and mechanical. He even had a heritage black smith's shop, which today is still put to regular use. Caldwell Farm is the perfect showcase for his passion.

One of many tractors waiting to be admired
A Dodge Pickup - still used by James as his work truck
Jake's Pride and Joy

But alas, all good things must come to an end. We bid James and Kristi farewell and head to our next stop - Sunshine Farms.

Sunshine Farms

We believe in a Community where everyone holds a place of respect, and the right to pursue their own vision and goals for personal success.

Sunshine Farms is a rare find. It's the type of place where special things grow - not just tomatoes, beets and carrots - but independence, diverse abilities and freedom. For almost 3 decades, the impact of this farm has extended far beyond its boundaries.

The Sunshine Farm Story

Sunshine Farm is Certifed Organic, and uses this setting to offer Vocational Development Opportunities to Adults in the Community Living Sector.

The educational opportunities at the farm occur in the gardens, as well as in the various buildings (shop, barn, greenhouses, etc.). The setting is diverse, offering a chance to learn about equipment, woodworking, plants, seed collection, greenhouse work, harvesting, labeling, math skills, weighing, packaging, as well as regularly scheduled classes.

We had the great pleasure of hearing the Sunshine story directly from owner Jon Alcock

Sunshine Farm's Office and Classrooms
The never ending variety of jobs on a working form provides hands on experience with all types of equipment
Above all, there is a respect for the individual and a recognition of diverse abilities

Preserving Genetic Diversity

Heritage and Organic Seed Production
Seeking out and preserving varieties that are at risk of disappearing forever
"Not all tomatoes are red, not all carrots are orange..." - Jon

And a Chance to Sample Kelowna's Best

Baking from Okanagan Grocer's Artisan Breads with preserves and honey from Pioneer Market, Meadow Vista and Arlo's Honey...
Herb tea from Sunshine Farms...
And liberal helpings of good conversation and fresh air.

You can't help leaving Sunshine Farms feeling a little better about the world in general. But leave we must - it's on to Arlo's Honey Farm.

Arlo's Honey Farm

The bees have taught me many things, aside from a fast track education in beekeeping. The first lesson was patience...

It was a warm quiet Okanagan evening and as I sat out on the deck and watched a small car enter the driveway. A tall elderly gentleman unfolded from the car to sell a jar of honey. This seemingly insignificant gesture was the beginning of becoming the owners of “Arlo’s Honey Farm”.

Helen Kennedy

First, a Few Words about Foraging

Helen explains the importance of foraging for a healthy honey bee population

Arlo's rotates several different crops to provide much that will attract a bee.
Just one example, Phacelia in full bloom.

Then - To the Hives

Arlo's has a special screened educational area to allow visitors to have an intimate look at the workings of a bee hive

Helen suits up for the demonstration
Next, she removes the top of a hive..
To provide us a glimpse inside
We gained a whole new respect for honey bees

And Finally, A Chance to Sample

Helen points out the differences in the many different honeys available at Arlo's.

Time flew by, and soon, it was time for a short ride up the road to the Okanagan Lavender and Herb farm.

Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm

Inspiration abounds from the land around us, the herbs we grow and the valley we are fortunate to enjoy every day.

From planting to harvest to distillation, our passions are rooted in tradition.

Hand Made. Locally Grown. Small Batch.

Andrea McFadden

The First Thing You Notice is the Fragrance

They say smell is the sense most closely linked to our memory. If that's the case, you'll never forget Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm.

Andrea preps us for our foraging trip to her herb patch...
Fully instructed, we strike out in search of the ingredients for our own infused vinegar dressing..
If only all grocery shopping could take place in a setting like this.

We Came, We Plucked, We're Ready to Create...

Our bags filled with fragrant chive blossoms, lemon balm, tarragon and oregano, we head for the lab to create our dressing.
A last glance backwards at the scenic site of our foraging.

From Farm to Table..in a Few Short Steps

All the ingredients for a perfect salad dressing.
After, we thank Andrea and head to our lunch stop - Tantalus Vineyards.

Tantalus vineyards

The purists, the terroirists, site-obsessed — while we welcome all of these nicknames, we like to think of ourselves more as the industry’s “new pioneers”.

Tantalus Vineyards was founded on the belief that exceptional wines made from a single vineyard of outstanding pedigree would capture the imagination and palates of those seeking authenticity and a sense of place.

At Tantalus, we met up with this tour's Curator and Co-Designer, Chef Mark Filatow from Waterfront Wines. Mark had created an exceptional sampling of local products in an unforgettable setting. 

Your Table is Waiting...

Our table, set up in a carefully selected location overlooking the vineyards
Chef Filatow welcomes us - As the Italians say, "a mangiare!"

On the Menu...

Chef Mark explains the origins of our lunch...
Perfectly paired with a few select choices from the Tantalus cellar - Thanks Stephanie!
"This is going to be fabulous!"

From Farm to Feast

Chef Mark Filatow's Local Charcuterie and Cheese Platter - it tasted just as good as it looks!
Allen and Robert sample the rewards of the day's foraging
Afterwards, a guided tour through Tantalus's exceptional line up. Then, we drag ourselves away for the last stop of our tour - Pioneer Market.

Pioneer Country Market & Sperling Vineyards

family lands and vines have become a vinous reality producing elegant wines of character.

We end where it all began - at Pioneer Ranch. We're a stones throw from the very beginnings of Kelowna, just down the road from Father Pandosy's Oblate Mission, founded in 1859. In 1884, Giovanni Casorso came at Father Pandosy's request to help introduce agriculture to the Okanagan. Since then, this land has passed from Casorso generation to generation: first to Giovanni's son, Peter. Then to Peter's daughter, Velma. And now, Sperling Vineyards is managed by Velma's daughter, Ann. We sat down with Velma to close the circle on this journey, getting to know our roots a little more intimately.

These Roots Run Deep!

The oldest surviving building in Kelowna, the original chapel from the Father Pandosy Mission (built in 1860).
This sign for Father Pandosy's Mission has found a new home. Ironically, it now lives with Kristi and James at Caldwell Farms
The market has several historic photos on the wall, tangible reminders of its past.

Four Lifetimes of Memories

Velma reminisced about her family, going back to her grandfather and grandmother - Rosa and Giovanni (John)

Rosa and Giovanni Casorso
Rosa and Giovanni with their family
The second Casorso home, still standing just up the road from the Market
Velma with her husband Bert. Those eyes still twinkle..

And So We End the Day

It was an exceptional journey, full of surprises, new friends and reclaimed memories. At G.O. Cycling Adventures, we bid you adieu and hope you'll come foraging with us again very soon.

The many preserves and treats available at Pioneer Market, all from Velma's own recipes.
A last look before we leave for the day.

Thank You and so long!

Created By
Gord Hotchkiss


Photos courtesy Jill and Gord Hotchkiss

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