Okanagan Valley Goes Local
Upon scratching the surface of the culinary scene in the winemaking region of the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, it quickly becomes apparent that the area is becoming equally notable for its local and sustainable food sourcing. Green City Acres is one of several businesses engaged in SPIN (small-plot intensive) farming, which makes dining on locally sourced goods at area restaurants essentially the norm, not the exception.
Bordering Lake Okanagan, Kelowna is the largest city in British Columbia. Orchards and vineyards abound just 10 minutes from downtown, but while the area is known for its wines, a number of innovative local food suppliers have been quietly making a name for themselves, providing the perfect wine complement — exceptional local fare made from Mother Nature.
Green City Acres
Efficiency, innovation, and tireless pursuit of a better food system are the driving forces behind Curtis Stone’s two-person, eight-plot urban farming operation in Kelowna. Based out of yards rented from homeowners and totaling less than one acre, Green City Acres is a groundbreaking venture that churns out 400 pounds of produce every week for local restaurants, CSA program members, and the local farmers market.
Green City Acres’ fresh, pesticide-free goods, including rainbow carrots, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, seasonal salad greens, and turnips, are delivered only by bikes and custom-made trailers, keeping the farm’s expenses and environmental impact as low as possible. Visitors can try the produce at the farmers market but chances are, if you dine at any of the restaurants in the Okanagan Valley, you’re already sampling their produce.
Codfathers Seafood Market
Codfathers Seafood Market owner Jon Crofts doesn’t let geography dictate his fishmonger business.
"We can [do it] if we work at it," said Crofts, a modern-day fishmonger who beat the larger Vancouver fish markets by being the first to have fresh halibut available last season in Kelowna. To accomplish this, Codfathers Seafood Market embarked on day trips as opposed to the more common three-day expeditions.
The full-service fish market has partnered with the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise conservation program, and most of its products bear this label of sustainability. To preserve quality, all fish comes in whole and is broken down in the market. Highlights of this year’s fishing season include partnering with Ted and Maureen Brown to bring in local rainbow trout from Little Fort, and the much-celebrated return of the sockeye salmon, nearly extinct 20 years ago, to Okanagan River.
Visitors to Codfathers Seafood Market should try the candied smoked salmon, an outrageously delicious local specialty and a tasty road trip snack.
Stoney Paradise Farm
At some point in his 18 years of farming, Milan Djordjevich of Stoney Paradise Farm became known as the Tomato Man, so nicknamed for his reputation for cultivating intensely flavorful, exceptionally sweet, orange-hued Sungold tomatoes, but variety isn’t lacking on the eight-acre property.
In fact, when Milan Djordjevich’s parents bought the farm in 1971, table grapes were its mainstay crop, and they remain a crucial part of the farm’s output and a favorite in the community. Walla Walla and Torpedo onions, squash, haricots verts, filet beans, beets, carrots, and eggplant also make it into the rotation at this certified organic farm, and judging by the quality of the produce, the Tomato Man’s moniker should be a whole lot longer.