A tour that highlights the agricultural bounty and beauty of the Saanich Peninsula has turned from a weekend adventure into a seasonal marathon because of COVID-19 – and organizers think it will be better for it.
“I think it’s so exciting for people to really start to slow down and dig deep into the question of what does this land produce that is so phenomenal in terms of flavour,” said Jen Rashleigh of the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) and a coordinator of North Saanich’s Flavour Trails.
The event has historically seen local agricultural producers welcome visitors on the third weekend of August, Friday night through Sunday afternoon, said Steve Duck, one of the event organizers. But public health prohibitions against large crowds have led organizers to re-image the event, he said.
Using an interactive map, visitors will be able to visit local producers at their own pace, starting in early July through August and possibly into September, said Rashleigh.
This change has several advantages, said Duck. Producers can now participate in the tour as their crops come to harvest. “During some of the past events, farmers chose not to participate because they couldn’t handle the volume of people coming over the two days.” They will now be able to set their own schedule, he said.
As for visitors, they will be able to visit on their own schedule as well.
Central to this year’s event is the interactive map which will alert would-be visitors about which producers will be open. The interactive map will also give visitors access to various features including longer behind-the-scenes videos and shorter vignettes allowing visitors to learn more about participating farms before they arrive on location.
“It forced us to be creative in a way that we believe to be better,” said Rashleigh.
The stretched-out nature of this year’s event has also allowed organizers to broaden its scope to focus on food sustainability and security issues.
As of late June, at least 10 farms have said they would participate in this year’s event, with organizers hoping to reach 30.
For Rashleigh, this year’s event resembles a ball. Once it has started moving, it will start to pick up momentum, growing along the way, foregoing large crowds in favour of more intimate, organic connections.
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