As our little tour van rolled up the dusty gravel road toward Fairburn Farm, I knew we would be in for a treat. I hopped out and had to let the scenery soak in a bit. We stood in front of a lovely farm house surrounded by pastures, mountains, and lush green hues that sprouted up from the ground and hung over our heads under a canopy of fruit-bearing trees.
Mara Jernigan met us just off the porch and picked some white alpine strawberries for us to taste before we even finished making our introductions. Growing right along the house these sweet, melt-in-your-mouth berries (that resembled little bright white LED Christmas lights) were the first of many treats in store for us that day.
Since it was established 115 years ago, Fairburn Farm has only had two separate owners. Although the products, business, and land have evolved, the same down to earth goodness and values still exist today. The 130 acres are maintained by the Archer family who run the Cowichan Water Buffalo Dairy, while the Culinary Retreat and Guest house are under the direction of Mara Jernigan.
Mara offers culinary getaways, cooking classes, education in eating local, and was a driving force behind the slow food movement in the Cowichan region. She founded the Vancouver Island Feast of Fields, which is an annual fundraising event that connects farmers and chefs as well as farm folks and city folks — all through food.
We were treated to breakfast on the porch, which consisted of a free range egg frittata, a chicken sausage (pasture-raised chicken from Cowichan Bay Farm), chicken of the woods mushrooms, fresh greens, and coffee. Mara pulls in everything from corn and mushrooms, to garlic, lavender, and kohlrabi into her cooking. “When the vegetables are fresh, you don’t have to do a lot to them,” she noted adding that ideas for delicious meals just come that much easier when you have resources like these.
Throughout our Vancouver Island tour, at each farm house, vineyard or artisan shop, everyone spoke so highly of everyone else in the community. Hilary’s Cheese served bread from True Grain, and the milk from the Water Buffalo at Fairburn Farm goes into Natural Pastures Buffalo Mozzarella (which we had on the frittata). Mara is a proud member of this community who joked, “if you marked the dollar bills [around here] you’d just see them going around and around.”
She also orchestrated the Slow Food movement in Cowichan, helping it gain status as the first-ever North American city to be designated Cittaslow. To become a Cittaslow city you need to be approved on many levels, from sustainability and environmental impact, to signage on the roads. With an influx of big box stores in the region, Mara thought it was vital to showcase local businesses in a positive light, instead of being negative about the economic and industrial changes in the Cowichan Valley.
Fairburn Farm is a guest house with several rooms and Mara offers cooking classes such as Field to Table, and Culinary Boot Camp. At the Boot Camp participants will learn skills such as harvesting from the garden and making home made pasta. She teaches classic French and Italian techniques but with local ingredients. Mara also runs culinary tours to Italy several times a year.
Out on the farm, Darrel Archer tended to Water Buffalo who during our visit, who were out in the oat field. He’s got such a great relationship with the animals whom he refers to adoringly like children, joking about their characteristics and quirky traits. We walked around back to visit with some of the baby water buffalo, who came bounding out of their barn like school children when we approached.
We met a few more water buffalo and also got a tour of the milking operation for the production of the mozzarella cheese.
We washed our hands after petting all the baby water buffalo and piled back into the van to head to the next stop on the tour. Rolling down the winding gravel passage that took us away from the farm a member of Tourism BC that was on the trip said it best, “at the end of every dirt road in BC there is a fantastic story.” I must agree, and the story of Fairburn Farm is definitely one I’ll continue to share.
I recently toured the South East portion of Vancouver Island with Tourism BC. You can read all of my posts from the trip under the tag: ‘Cowichan‘.
I was converted from PC to a Mac in 2007 and I haven’t looked back. The transition took a bit of time (mostly because of my nerves and I was paranoid I’d lose all data in a big fiery mess) and I’m not sure I would have taken the plunge if not for the support and patience of my husband. Having that extra bit of motivation, or knowing you have a bit of a safety net, makes taking that leap that much easier.
I was recently approached by Macinhome to do a contest involving their services and I thought it would be a great idea. I have not used their services, nor have they paid me to write this post however I sincerely appreciate “going to the pros” when there’s an issue or if you need help. Macs are incredibly user-friendly but if coming from a Windows background there is a learning curve. I’m just hoping to pass on a bit of assistance to a reader so that they can avoid some of the headaches I endured.
Macinhome is listed on the official Certified Apple Consultants list and is locally owned and operated. They also have an arsenal of Windows pros so they’re no stranger to multiple operating systems.
They offer several services including everything from iCal tutorials, to setting you up on your Mac (going from the box, to everyday use) and helping you convert from a PC to an Apple computer.
I’m sure you could spend time trying to figure things out for yourself but having some help is always beneficial — which is why I even created a full category on my site for Mac vs PC.
The contest is for a Macinhome consultation, which will go to one reader who needs some Mac support.
Two hour spa treatment for your Mac, with some tutoring on getting the most from your setup – (valued at $190). An Apple-certified Macinhome consultant will visit your home to basically perform a tune up on your Mac, doing the computer equivalent of an oil change & tire rotation.
How to enter:
If you have a story about how you switched from a PC to a Mac, about why you love using a Mac, or even some of your frustrations, please share it in the comments to enter. I’ll draw a winner on Thursday, August 27th.
We decided to do an impromptu photo walk last night and ended up at the Ambleside Dog Park. I love being over at Ambleside as you get a different perspective of the city and it’s just such a nice walk through the trees, which ends up right along the beach.
Loving the change in seasons, I was excited to see orange on leaves although I’m not sure if it was a sign of autumn, or a scar from the heat wave a few weeks ago. Regardless, summer was definitely in full swing yesterday as we took our sunny stroll.
It was good to get more Vancouver photos into my Flickr stream since I’ve been away from the Lower Mainland so much lately. On top of that, it was really nice to slow the pace down a bit and take a leisurely evening stroll with friends.
WordCamp Fraser Valley is happening today at SFU Surrey and I’ll be giving a talk about how WordPress can go beyond being simply a blogging platform. In 1998 I worked in Surrey Place Mall, and now I’m speaking at a conference in the University that sits atop it — it’s pretty surreal.
I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the other speakers who have been scheduled in beginner, intermediate, and Twitter-related tracks. In particular, the inspirational and insighful Glenda Watson Hyatt.
I’ll be updating throughout the day (in what a call a “Day Blog” style) so photos and updates will appear on this post as we carry on.
Over the years many have been tossing around the idea that the three airport code letters “YVR” don’t do our region justice and recently this school of thought has been gaining momentum. It would seem the popular choice for renaming Vancouver International would be after Terry Fox — our local hero who made a big impact on the world.
Terry was born in Manitoba but he grew up in Vancouver before moving to Port Coquitlam. In 1980 Terry Fox set out to cross Canada on foot as a part of his Marathon of Hope to raise funds and awareness for Cancer research. “Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977.” – [source]
He wanted to bring hope to inspire a nation by going across the country — 8,000 kms from St John’s Newfoundland to Victoria, BC. He dipped his toe in the Atlantic and set out on the journey. When he reached Thunder Bay, Ontario about 143 days in (and over 5,000 kms through) he had to stop for medical reasons. He was brought back to BC and shortly after he passed away.
Although he never got to dip his toe in the Pacific Ocean, his mission is legendary and lives on through education, research, and each man, woman and child who participates in the Terry Fox Run around the world.
“It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death….We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.” – Pierre Trudeau to the House of Commons about Terry Fox.
Despite all of this, many still feel the airport would lose an international identity without the word “Vancouver” in the name. Toronto International was renamed Lester B. Pearson International Airport (known to many as Toronto Pearson) in 1984, after our 14th Prime Minister and many others have also been renamed. However, the debate is not out of a lack of respect or honor for Terry’s legacy, but many simply see it as a poor business move when it comes to identifying Vancouver on the world stage.
Update October 7, 2010: This is in the new again as online petitions grow. “Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry said Wednesday she thinks it’s an excellent idea and said she’s looking to present a motion in the House of Commons calling for the name change.” – CBC