Fall Equinox Chow Down 2013

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On the evening of the Fall Equinox 2013 we joined local urban gardeners from Cedar Cottage Community Garden in a delightful meal in the middle of the lovely garden under the skytrain. It was a rainy night but the sun did show itself just long enough for me to get some beautiful photos of the kitchen tent and the tasty food that was being prepared on the grill that had been set up there.

Much of the vegetables, herbs and fruits used in the meal were harvested from the overflowing green plots around us. On the tables were asian pears from the food forest.

Chef Mike Preston of La Quercia created a raft of dishes, and we were particularly pleased as most of the meal was fine for us on our grain-free diet (GAPS/SCD).

The evening kicked off with delicious Sorrel Soup served in mason jars. As folks began to take their seats platters of Heirloom Tomato Salad with Bruschetta were laid out on the tables. The platters included carmelized onions and a light balsamic dressing. A chorus of moans of delight rose from everyone at the table as the tomatoes were sampled.

Next up was the White Bean and Quinoa Salad (from the garden’s 2012 harvest!), I’m not quite sure what else was in the salad but the dressing was a combination of garden herbs. The conversation around the table was also very exciting as we heard about the Thirteen Grandmothers ceremony that had taken place that morning.

We were seated with a clear view of the grill and did our best not to drool as we watched the salmon being seared, soon the next platter was placed on our table — White Spring Salmon with Pesto. A silence settled over our table as everyone tucked into their salmon with total focus. This is definitely the best way to dine, with the food so fresh you can reach out and pick it and the love and passion of those who grew and prepared it deeply intertwined into the meal.

Just when we were starting to feel full and getting ready to wind down platters of BBQ Porchetta with Crispy Cracklings, Roasted Root Vegetables and Braised Kale from the garden were set down before us. If we had only realised the bountiful amounts of food to be laid out before us we would have paced ourselves a bit better. The porchetta was absolutely divine and I couldn’t help but stuff myself past bursting — the root vegetables and kale were so fresh and sweet, I felt as if it were the first time I had really tasted the true essence of those vegetables.

There was a mild discussion at the table as to whether or not there would be dessert and many of us were convinced the meal was over, we hadn’t any space left to fit anything more in anyway…at that moment fluffy white Pavlova topped with Berries from the garden were set down before us.

We were also very fortunate to be at the same table with Cylia and Peter, who were among the original founders of the garden and so we had a chance to hear the history of the garden and how it had begun. The garden was originally train tracks and was the site of a terrible accident many many years ago. As a result the amount of effort that went into removing impacted soil, stones and more from the area where the food forest is planted was truly remarkable. The garden has a lot of layers of the history of Vancouver tied up with it and it is so lovely to see how our earth can be revitalized and healed in a symbiotic manner, healing those involved in the garden while at the same time bringing the abused and forgotten earth back to vibrancy.

Cedar Cottage Community Garden has only been there for 6 years but already the abundance of fruits and vegetables and community grown there is mind-boggling and will only continue to exponentially amplify each year. As Suzanne, reminded us with a cheerful gleam in her eye, the tide has turned and our beautiful world is returning. Gardens and cooperation are giving us all hope for the new earth which we are working together to create. Plant, animal, mineral, water and mankind of every variety come together in coherence. The Fall Equinox was a perfect symbolic time for the coming together and appreciation of the bounty and gifts we all have to share with each other. Thanks so much to the team that worked hard to organize this event. It was without a doubt one of the best meals I have ever had.

Check out these images of Cedar Cottage Community Garden a couple years ago to see the amazing difference!

The following are some words of appreciation from the garden members to the garden and the team who organized Cedar Cottage Garden’s first Chow Down:

“I want to say that last evening’s event was a huge success. The food was plentiful, marvelous and tasty.” -Cylia

“It was so amazing. Thank you for allowing me to participate and share in the joy of community. The people who organized this wonderful event were amazing.

We are doing amazing things in Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood, thank you to everyone, your are such inspiration to our work to “build community” and I thank you on behalf of the Neighbourhood House and the Neighbourhood Small Grants Resident Committee and the Vancouver Foundation Greenest City Grant Program.” -Kelly Woods

“This was a really challenging project that took real vision! Denise and Liz and Mike beat all the odds — including the weather! — and created something wonderful for the Garden community. By all accounts, it was an evening to remember.” -Helen

“I agree with everyone on all accounts! Last night was spectacular and would not have been so lovely without the supreme organization and hard work of everyone involved. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was magical! Perfect music playlist too! We had a lot of fun as a group. It was a great way for me to connect with the CAN guys once again. Thanks again so much to everyone who was part of the organization of this event. We had a blast!” -Corey Evans

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