Stoddart Farm Pigs

'Tis The Season To Eat Local, Toronto

With Spring upon us, and the potential for a bountiful growing season just around the corner, Toronto food lovers and locavores alike have a lot to look forward to.

Not only do Ontario farmlands have the ability to produce a dizzying array of fruits, vegetables, and meats but these bounties are now available to Toronto urbanites at a scale never before seen.

Thanks to the established and still growing farmer's market scene in the city, and the newer rise of Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSAs), we now have access to a variety of foods that would make any food lover as excited as I am about the upcoming growing season.

Last week I attended a screening of Tableland at Hart House. The documentary chronicles the nomadic culinary journey of writer/director/narrator and Vancouver native Craig Noble.

Noble gave up his Vancouver apartment and hit the road in an attempt to fully immerse himself in local and sustainable food production. He sought out the continent's most interesting farmers, cheesemakers, bakers and chefs who are committed to and passionate about the truly wonderful possibilities there are for local eating.

Working for his keep, Noble was able to sample some of the best artisan fare both Canada and the U.S. has to offer, including Ontario's own Eigensinn Farm headed up by celebrated Chef Michael Stadtlander, and certified organic produce farm Soiled Reputation.

The screening was hosted by the Kawartha Ecological Growers (KEG) and Green Enterprise Toronto. The KEG is just one example of the emerging CSAs in the city. Comprised of over 20 small family farms in the Western Kawartha Lakes region, the KEG produces an amazing variety of fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, eggs and meats (many of which are heirloom varieties), as well as maple syrup, honey, flour, pickles and preserves.

Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting three of the farms that are part of the KEG with George Brown's Tastes of Tomorrow club.

Today, from 1pm-4:30pm at the Gladstone Hotel is Slow Food Toronto's Farm to Home Fair. The Fair will feature a mix of 23 CSA, community, and food advocacy groups. Producers will be on hand to talk about their farms, their products and how joining their CSA would work.

Producers will also have items for sale and the Gladstone's executive Chef Marc Breton will have local and seasonal snacks on offer. The suggested donation for entry is $10 for adults and $5 for children/students.

So while the 2009 Farmer's Almanac predicts a slightly drier and and cooler summer season than normal, the results remain to be seen. But we can certainly expect to be provided with a harvest that is uniquely Ontario.

Photo of Stoddart Family Farm porkers by Lauren Wilson

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