Farm to Fork in the North Thompson by Don Genova
Farm to Fork’ is a catchy phrase we’re hearing a lot this days when it comes to talking about a sustainable agriculture system. Some farmers and restaurants are trying to make it work together in the Kamloops area. I sampled the concept last fall with a fascinating visit to some North Thompson area farms and ranches, a relatively new winery and I even tasted salmon from a new First Nations fishing and processing operation.
Mitchell Cattle Company in Barriere, owned by Ian and Anja Mitchell. They run about 300 head of cattle, the ranch goes back in Ian’s family to 1933. Much of the beef they produce is grass-fed in the alpine pastures with no antibiotics or hormones. They are trying to encourage more direct sales, not only to the general public but to area restaurants. They also produce value-added products like jerky, and I had to pull myself away from the teriyaki, black pepper and sweet and spicy varieties.
Thistle Farms in Kamloops is a certified organic farm owned by Deb and Deiter Kellogg. The name comes from the huge number of thistles Dieter had to clear from the farmland when he bought it. Now they grow a wide variety of produce I saw eagerly snapped up by market-goers at both the Kamloops and Sun Peaks Farmers’ Markets.
Harper’s Trail, billed as BC’s most northern vineyard.
Vineyard Manager John Dranchuk described the ups and downs he’s had managing the grapevines at what is being billed as BC’s most northern vineyard. But after four years the vines have managed to provide the raw material for a decent white blend, a very good Rosé and an excellent Riesling.
My wine tasting was accompanied by a BC rarity, products from an inland commercial salmon fishery on Kamloops Lake, operated by a fisheries commission operating within the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. The RiverFresh Oceanwise smoked salmon is very tasty, overcoming the traditional impression people have that salmon is of a lower quality if caught that far from the ocean.
Executive Chef Steve Buzack at the Delta Hotel put together a great tasting menu at Mantles which included sliders made with Mitchell Ranch ground beef and an amazing slow cooked lamb confit with lamb from Dominion Creek Ranch, literally just down the road from the Sun Peaks Resort. At the Black Garlic Bistro Chef/Owner Kristin Passmore puts a rotating selection of local and seasonal vegetables on the menu with her Asian-influenced cuisine and hopes to start making her own fermented black garlic from the abundant locally-grown garlic.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Kamloops and Sun Peaks restaurants keep the Farm to Fork concept going when I visit the Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine January 12-20th. There will be many BC wines on offer of course, but local products like Ted’s Trout and Dominion Creek Lamb will shine at Festival events such as the Wine Masters Dinner on Jan. 17th at the Delta Sun Peaks. Great skiing, great wine and great food, a perfect winter combination.