June 17, 2010

Strawberries and Asparagus Festival.

A Spring Harvest Celebration.

Four years ago I was inspired to create the Strawberries and Asparagus Festival (sponsored this year by Fiesta Farms). I suppose it could have been Fiddleheads and Leeks but that just didn’t resonate with me. Stalking the Wild Asparagus and a favorite cookbook Intercourses look back from the bookshelves of my office and kitchen as a constant reminder of spring harvest.

This past Saturday, June 12th, 2010 marked the 4th annual festival. We typically have a solar stage and solar cooking demonstrations, 30+ eco vendors and 1200 attendees, but alas 80% POP and thunder showers forced my volunteer team to make an executive decision on Friday: downsize. Saturday came, our outdoor venue strewn with tents and tarps, 300 pints of strawberries and 200lbs of asparagus, and dark skies. And then the people started appearing, with smiling faces, and children in tow and an amazing transformation occurred and a dreary day was filled with the sunshine of conviviality.

Yazmin of Love Wonders coordinated signage, tarping and ensured the people interested found us, Claire from Gardening Angel and the local Children’s Garden had the children singing of plant husbandry and profound connections between people. Local farm produce was served on local artisanal bread, and people were inspired to sing and play and enjoy one another. Lyrics from previous years eco-Buskers emerged “I’ve got the Asparagus Blues, I like it smothered in tahini”, and good buddy Chris Lowry and I sang a little Ben Harper “Excuse me Mister isn’t that your oil in the sea” and it was magical.

Later in the day the good folks at ChocoSol, Toronto’s Bicycle Powered artisanal lateral trade chololistas showed up with their Tortilla team, bringing with them a wonderful energy of generosity to a full house. Friends and neighbours joined volunteers who came together to enjoy Beers for Volunteers sponsored by local micro-brewery, Steam Whistle. Yes it rained, and yes we celebrated it.

I am exhausted after spending the balance of the weekend making jam and preserving left over asparagus, but an important lesson stays with me. Repeatedly I heard “this is much better, small is intimate, beautiful, stronger…” We sometimes get attached to outcomes measured by size and growth. This year S&A enjoyed a beautiful reconciliation. The people who attended brought  sunshine to share and showed everyone that small is better, warmer, more human and more meaningful.

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