Slow Food Cycle Sunday, Pemberton, BC

The Town of Pemberton with the agricultural valley in the background.

Years ago in Pemberton, BC, I was part of the Farmer’s Market Association. It was in the mid nineties. I sold vegetables and things from a local farmer and helped organize the market. It was and still is, my idea to get off the grid and live a sustainable life. I am nowhere near it and don’t seem to be moving in that direction but it is still my dream. Pemberton was my first kick at that can. I had moved from Vancouver, where I had lived for a year after coming from Toronto, where I had lived for 15 years. I reallllllllly wanted get away from city life for a while. I had grown up in the country and small towns and never felt that the city life was my choice.

Through a series of events, I wound up in Pemberton. It wasn’t too isolated being only a few hours from Vancouver and was only 25 minutes from the best ski resort in the world, Whistler. For the first few years, I was very happy and excited to be there. It was all just starting out back then. Now there is a huge movement and awareness that parallels society’s’ grassroots awareness. Not to mention the town itself has grown by leaps an bounds. And there is the biggest music festival in Canada there now (if they keep it going).

My return to Pemberton to shoot aerials was largely successful and positive. There is a backwards negative element to Pemberton that I only encountered to a small degree. Not bad considering how it was raging when I left there in 2001. It was great to reconnect with all the farmers whom I had known years ago. Everyone looked pretty good- must be the healthy living.

One family of organic farmers were really doing some impressive work. The Helmers have lived in the valley for a generation or more and the land was cleared by them and has never had sprays on it. They practice all the sustainable, bio dynamic methods and also make honey and cheese. They, as so many other farmers in the valley, are known for their potatoes. This, 2008, being the International Year of the Potato, makes it all the more poignant.

Slow Food Cycle Sunday
was started by Anna Helmer, daughter to Doug and Jeanette, 4 years a go. It is celebrated on a sunday in August by 2300 cyclists riding up the Pemberton Valley making stops at participating farms. People can buy stuff and pick it up later in town, so they don’t have the burden of carrying it on their bikes. It is growing at a dynamic pace. I can see this thing exploding world wide. There is already another one in Aggasiz.

The whole ethical sustainable movement is celebrated by everyone. You can’t draw harsh lines between lifestyles in a small place like that. The rednecks are so easily offended by any suggestion of change that you have to embrace them as they are. It seems to be working. So the raw foodists, the natural beef producers, the vegans, vegetarians and SAD (standard american diet) dieters are all at it together.

A lot of people up there raise their own meat, chicken, pigs and cows. Okay, it is better than store bought, but I just avoid it altogether. One company is getting some acclaim, Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef. I used to buy eggs off Trevor the son of Bob Mitchell, one of the owners. I have a great working and social relationship with the owners, Don and Bob. Being a non beef eater doesn’t effect my relationship to them at all. We are so above that. It is refreshing that most people there are above that too.

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