Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your guide to the best locally crafted fare

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Entries in Sculpture (2)


"Encounters with Iceland" at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Kelowna, BC

"Encounters with Iceland" sculpture exhibit, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Kelowna, BC (image provided by Mission Hill Family Estates)

On Saturday, June 21, I was among the guests at Mission Hill's official opening of its new sculpture exhibit, "Encounters With Iceland." I hadn't been to Mission Hill in a while. Keeping up with all the new boutique wineries, distilleries, cideries, meaderies and eateries in the Okanagan Valley seems to be a losing battle, frankly, so I'm not prone to repeat visits to places I've already been several times over. But I'm grateful that I was on the guest-list.

Grateful? Yes, actually, which is funny because as I said, it's been a busy 2014 already. Launches! Openings! Special Events! And other Must-Attend happenings had me a little road-weary by the first day of summer. Pathetic, but true. And in true journalistic fashion, I was verging on becoming jaded, the writer's equivalent of being a snivelling whiner.

Mission Hill, however, knows how to create an occasion, and with the invite-only cachet -- a small gathering of journalists and Mission Hill Family Estate Wine Club members, plus a few other friends of the winery, I suspect -- plus it was a major international sculpture exhibition opening right here, in the valley. Furthermore, the sculptor of the 42 pieces, Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, would be in attendance from Reykavik, Iceland. Iceland seems to be punching well above its weight class drawing half of Western Canada to its geysers and Nordic-chic cultural coolness these days. Why would I not go?

(Read the rest over at my Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop blog.)


Sunday Garden Tour: Humour, Art and the Community Garden

I tend to be very food-focussed in my garden. I overcrowd the beds hoping for the most production possible, leaving gnomes, plastic deer and umbrella-carrying frogs to other people. I don't even plant many flowers, except ones known as pest deterrents or if they are proven indispensable companion plants.

(This year, I will admit that I have had to resort to awful nylon whirlygigs to keep the quail out of my lettuce beds. But they are hardly there to beautify. In fact, I cringe when I look out into my raised beds and see these Dollar Store-wonders spinning around.)

However, there is something to be said for sticking a few ornaments in and around the basil, even though I can't really tell you why. The herbs don't grow any faster or better, and I'm convinced that bobbles in the garden do little to deter hungry birds or rabbits. The best answer I can give is that it's just fun or when done right, downright funny. There is a lot to be said for humour's place in a food or community garden, just as some gardeners are guided by an aesthetic directive.

Case in point:

Last summer, I stopped by Our Urban Eden, a community garden in downtown Edmonton. Etablished in 1999 (though it moved to its present location in 2007), this garden now has 50+ gardeners and 37 plots. (New gardeners start with a half-plot, 4 feet by 7 feet, and then graduate up to a full 4-by-14-foot plot.) The dues to belong to this community garden are $45 CDN per year plus deposit for a full plot, and $25 CDN per year for a half plot.)

Our Urban Eden Community Garden, est 1999, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A view of the garden plots at Our Urban Eden Community Garden, Edmonton, June 30, 2010

As with any community garden, each plot appeared to be a mirror of its gardener, an alternate version of the Myers-Brigg Personality Test if you like. Some plots were messy, some were chaotic, others were utilitarian, and others were overly regimented. As we walked through the plots, the garden coordinator pointed out a couple of planters with bizarre flea-market collections of figurines, toys, shiny trophy tops, and the like. It was brilliant, like a small comic village of characters out of Toy Story just doing their thing among the broccoli and cauliflower.

Great reuse for trophy tops, multi-sport activity among the crops, Our Urban Eden Community Garden, Edmonton, June 30, 2010

The dinosaur munching on the carnations was right out of the textbooks of when dinosaurs ruled the earth.The golden age of swizzlesticks gets some respect in Our Urban Eden, June 30, 2010

The stranger, the better. Our Urban Eden, June 30, 2010.

I have come across this sort of thing in other community gardens. Just blocks from my condo, the Oliver Community Garden in Edmonton provided a nice suprise last summer as well.

Good reuse of trophy parts in Oliver Community Garden, Edmonton, June 30, 2010

OK, so out in my Okanagan garden, I do have a metal pig and a metal sheep looking out from a rock ledge. They're not fall-off-your-chair hilarious, but they amuse me none the less. Which is reason enough to include them in the garden landscape.