Haley Rosenberg of Nourish Cafe and Bistro is one of several local food vendors taking part in Saanich Harvest Days this weekend.

Saanich Harvest Days highlights bounty of local fare

Inaugural Saanich Harvest Days happens this weekend, Sept. 12-14

Hayley Rosenberg cradles a morning Americano as she saunters through the bountiful garden plots at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific.

The holistic-minded restaurateur is indebted to the volunteers who garden there regularly and supply her on-site restaurant, Nourish Bistro, with weekly harvests.

September is a particular time of abundance, not only in the Nourish-dedicated vegetable beds at HCP, but throughout Saanich farmland, many of which Nourish relies on for year-round produce.

Nourish’s gardens and many Saanich farms are opening their fields to the public this weekend for Saanich Harvest Days, Sept. 12 to 14.

“It’s not just harvest time, which is a lot of extra work in itself, it’s also dealing with the peak crop of tomato, leek, potato, onion, corn, squash, broccoli, apples and plums, and more,” Rosenberg says.

Food waste is often overlooked in the local food movement, but it’s a concern at this time of year. Nourish is moving beyond the traditional forms of canning or freezing fresh food by experimenting with fermentation and other preservation methods.

The result is some impressive flavours, such as fermented turnip noodles, sprouted grains and non-traditional jam ingredients.

They’re just a few examples of the fall feast menu catered by Nourish at Friday’s (Sept. 12) Harvest Dinner, one of the marquee events that make up Harvest Days.

The HCP-hosted Harvest Dinner is a showcase of many things, including the site’s new handsomely fashioned event centre.

Harvest Days is flush with farm and vineyard tours, a Harvest Cycle tour, and a long list of farms and farm stands that boast September’s excessive and healthy produce.

It’s all meant to extend the traditional celebration of harvest to the surrounding community, says Bob Thompson, who’s helped rebrand and grow Harvest Days from its origins as the eight-year-old North Saanich Flavour Trail, which now includes many Saanich farms.

“This comes from the District of Saanich’s commitment to food security and local food movement, and its interest in sustainability,” he said.

Saanich’s latest community garden at Gorge Park is a testament to that, Thompson added.

Tickets to the Harvest Dinner at HCP are $30 each. Nourish Bistro will also be showcasing the herbs and vegetables it uses along with neighbouring Peninsula farms. Call 250-479-6162 for tickets.

Cyclists can take participate in the Harvest Cycle on their own or with Steve Duck of TIDES culinary touring company. The guided cycling tour is $65 and leaves on Sunday from Mattick’s Farm at 9:30 a.m., returning at 4:30 p.m., and incudes lunch. Register at TIDESgroup.com or call 250-999-2997 for more information.

For a full list of Saanich Harvest Days events, visit flavourtrails.com or call 250-812-1312.

reporter@saanichnews.com