Experience a bigger flavour country on the Saanich Peninsula

North Saanich Flavour Trail grows into a regional program

There’s just too much flavour on the Saanich Peninsula for only a single trail to follow, so a signature North Saanich event is about to grow like a weed.

For the last six years, the District of North Saanich has hosted Flavour Trail, a weekend of farm, park and producer tours, tastings, tea and more. Run by the District, the Flavour Trail has grown to become the community’s signature event — so big that now the municipality is handing it over to new operators, who are taking it to another level.

The Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) will expand the Flavour Trail concept to other Saanich Peninsula food and farm events throughout the year. CRFAIR co-ordinator Linda Geggie says the weekend of tours in North Saanich will remain the anchor event, held over the August 23 to 25 weekend.

“This year, the partners will hold a number of events over the course of the growing and eating season,” Geggie explained. “In June, for instance, there was a strawberries and wine event.”

Other Flavour Trails events on the horizon include Sidney Sip and Savour August 24 and a chef survival challenge at Madrona Farm on September 8. The idea, said Geggie, is to bring the community to farms in North and Central Saanich to both entertain and educate people on the value of being able to produce food locally.

“The idea is to celebrate all the activities going on,” she said, “and to bring more people out to the Peninsula.”

With ongoing interest in local food production, Geggie said part of the plan is to show visitors where their food comes from and what it takes to produce it on the south Island.

“In this region, we have the climate and food and farm country like they have in Europe,” she said. “The farms here are very much interested in this program as well. If we can help them by bringing more people out to the farms, it’s going to be a win win all around.”

North Saanich has put up a $9,500 contribution to this year’s Flavour Trail event in August, says Mayor Alice Finall. That was what the District was paying to run the event. Because it was getting so big, and District resources spread so thin, she said they wanted another group to take it on.

“Some pretty amazing people have come forward,” Finall said. “It’s getting bigger and there’s a need for more community engagement.”

The other municipalities on the Peninsula are being included this year, Finall noted, with events popping up in Sidney and in Central Saanich.

There are plans afoot to expand it in subsequent years to farms and neighbourhoods in Saanich.

Final said the Flavour Trail concept arose from the District’s agricultural economic development strategy — which encourages actions on improving local agri-tourism and food production on the Peninsula.

“I have been involved in this for years,” said the mayor.

“This is one area where we can work towards that aim.”

Geggie said organizers of this year’s Flavour Trails are taking it slowly, but already it seems to be growing quickly with farms, events and sponsors all getting on board.

“We really do have an area with a great growing climate,” she said. “It’s really something we should celebrate.”

North Saanich Flavour Trail

This year’s North Saanich Flavour Trail will be held on the weekend of August 24-25, 2013. This is a transition year, as the the District of North Saanich has chosen CRFAIR* to manage the Flavour Trail. You’ll find some old friends and acquaintances (with new stories to tell) plus some new faces. The following venues have confirmed so far:

Greene’s Farm • Fruit Trees & More • Wild Edge Farm Garden • Cartref Gardens & The Pie Social • Snowdon House • Holy Trinity Church Tea & Cemetery Tour • Dominion Brook Park • Centre for Plan Health • Pat Bay Trading Post • Russell Nursery • Epicure Selections / Domaine Rochette • North Saanich Farm Market • Muse Winery & Bistro • The Roost Farm Centre • Melinda’s Biscotti • Sidney Sip & Savour (NEW!).  We’re also looking at adding a new bike tour, focused on  sustainability. Here’s some of what you’ll see, hear and taste on this year’s North Saanich Flavour Trail (as of July 6). We’ll have full details for all sites on the Flavour Trail by July 24.

* CRFAIR – Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable