Summertime Local Food Festivals Around Hamilton

savour4 Ahh summer! It’s finally here! Summer is a great time to visit local farms and farmers markets, but did you know there are also many festivals that centre around local food? We searched all over for a good list of culinary festivals in southern Ontario to no avail so we decided to make our own. Do you know other local food events happening in the region, or events happening on local farms? Please tell us about them and we will add to our list!

July 13Turnip the Beets, Shared Harvest Community Farm, Dunnville ON – great live music, farm-fresh food, activities for kids, & puppet show in a beautiful setting on a great organic farm. Tickets are $20 and support the good work of Shared Harvest Community Farm. 1 hour south of Hamilton.

millersdairyJuly 13Miller’s Dairy Day, Creemore ON – This is the second year of operations for this small jersey dairy. The Miller family invites you to spend the day on their beautiful farm. Meet the lovely Jersey ladies, take a tour of the farm, & enjoy some treats. Free event, great for kids. Saturdays is also the Creemore Farmers Market and across the street you can check out the 100 Mile Store, one of The Mustard Seed’s early inspirations. 2 hours north of Hamilton.

July 19-21 – 5th Annual Cuisine-Art, Alton Mill Arts Centre, near Caledon ON – a festival showcasing the best of the region’s food, drink, and art. This year’s Cuisine-Art will feature the work of local artist, chefs preparing delicious foods from local producers, and numerous Ontario wine, beer, and cider vendors. Tickets are $20 in advance/$30 at the door & proceeds support The Alton Millpond Rehabilitation Fund. 1 hour north of Hamilton.

August 17  – Food Fight for Foodies, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON – A festival celebrating food featuring a cooking competition hosted by Chef Bruce Worden. Partake of the culinary delights from food trucks and food vendors. Stroll through the marketplace for unique finds while enjoying the sights and smell of the lavender fields.

savour5August 25Savour Simcoe, Minesing ON – A local culinary tasting event hosted by the Simcoe County Farm Fresh. The event is held outdoors at the Simcoe County Museum among the trees and historical buildings of the museum. The theme is “Celebrating our Heritage” (Agriculture and Regional Cuisine), which fits into the County’s rich agricultural history and the Museum’s extensive collections and artifacts.  Tickets $59. 1 hour 45 minutes north of Hamilton.

August 31Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, Christie Lake Conservation Area in Dundas ON – While admittedly the Harvest Picnic is a great music festival, the event serves to celebrate the importance of the Greenbelt, local farmers, art, the outdoors and the eat-local movement. The Mustard Seed is hoping to have a booth again this year amongst the other non-profits and local farmers that the festival aims to celebrate. In addition to meeting local farmers & food groups, musical treats include the Arkells, Harlan Pepper, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois, Whitehorse, Basia Bulat & others. Tickets are $150 however children under 10 are free and 11-15 are $25. 20 minutes from downtown Hamilton.

September 6 – 8 – 20th Annual Niagara Food Festival – Welland, ON – The Niagara Food Festival offers fantastic food from local restaurants and food producers, celebrity chefs on the Mobile Culinary Theatre, live entertainment for all ages. Admission is free. 1 hour east of Hamilton.

savour beerSeptember 8 – 24th Annual Feast of Fields, Cold Creek Conservation Area, Nobleton ON – Pick-up your napkin & wine glass and stroll amongst celebrated chefs, farmers, vintners, artisans and brewers. Organic Advocates/Feast of Fields was established in 1989 by chefs Jamie Kennedy and Michael Stadtlander, and other organic producers, environmentally concerned chefs and other food professionals, and enlightened consumers. Tickets $100. 1 hour north of Hamilton.

September 14  – Niagara Garlic & Herb Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON – A delicious culinary festival where there are vendors from all over Ontario that either grow garlic (like elephant or music) or incorporate garlic into their dishes like jams and jellies even chocolate. There will be cooking demonstrations, garlic braiding, tutorials on how to grow garlic, and even garlic ice cream to sample. 1 east of Hamilton.

savour stratfordSeptember 20-22 Savour Stratford, Stratford, ON – Savour Stratford is Ontario’s premier culinary event celebrating the creative partnerships between producers and local chefs, inviting celebrity chefs and renowned cook book authors to present innovative and emerging culinary ideas at delicious tastings and learning events. Free music concerts, artisanal markets and street theatre all converge in Stratford’s heritage garden district for a flavourful weekend of fun! This year’s theme is globally inspired, locally grown. Check out the festivals website for tickets to the various workshops that range from Global Grains to International Beers to Peruvian food & the Bitters Revival. 1 hour 15 minutes west of Hamilton.

September 20-22EpiCKure, Wallaceburg ON – a new three-day celebration of locally-grown and produced ingredients and skilfully crafted foods prepared by the region’s most talented culinary artisans. The festival is about local food, making connections with farmers and getting Ontario excited about the foods that are being grown in Chatham-Kent. A Market Food & Drink Ticket Sheet is $20. 2 1/2 hours west of Hamilton.

September 27-29 – 12th Annual TASTE Community Grown, Prince Edward County – An epicurean experience, TASTE showcases the finest artisanal products, wines, beers, cider and cuisine that Ontario’s Gastronomical Capital, Prince Edward County, has to offer.

If you have read this far, I am sure you are wondering when Hamilton will have its own culinary & local food festival. Stay tuned…once The Mustard Seed is open we hope to help organize events like the ones above showcasing our own local producers and culinary artists!

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Local food & the value of flavour: talking with a chef

We had the fantastic opportunity to hear Jeff Crump speak about the culinary pleasures of local food at the Hill Street Community Garden on Wednesday. As executive chef at the Ancaster Mill & co-owner of the Earth to Table Bread Bar on Locke Street, Jeff is a wealth of knowledge and passionate about the flavours of fresh and local.

As he threw out inspiring recipes based on what was growing in the gardens, Jeff also shared his thoughts on some bigger issues related to our food economy. For example, our diet is now dominated by things that are easy to harvest and transport, such as romaine lettuce, rather than foods that necessarily have the most flavour or nutrition. This means that sweetcorn has the unique honour of being the only traditional food that is exclusively eaten seasonally in Canada.

Jeff also expressed the challenges, as a chef, of sourcing local foods. He mentioned, for example, the need for food to have a certain level of uniformity for the restaurant plate – i.e. chicken breasts need to be uniform for kitchen staff, otherwise a lot of extra work has to go into making the meal. Jeff spoke about the FarmStart program that is just beginning at the Landmark Farm in Flamborough, and his hopes to procure some of what this new generation of farmers are growing.

As we walked through the garden, tasting the sharp and intense flavour of fresh arugula (unlike anything you can buy in the grocery store), and talked about what to pair with lovage, we were inspired to continue on this co-op adventure.

Jeff Crump’s quick pickle recipe to add a boost of flavour to your fresh beets, beans, radishes, cukes, etc.

1 cup rice wine vinegar;  3T sugar;   1 T salt    |    Heat on stovetop, add to jar of fresh produce, cool & store in the refrigerator. Yum!