Variety is at the heart of the North Saanich Flavour Trails Festival.
Take Fruit Trees and More, a small acreage where Bob and Verna grow limes, figs, olives kiwi and more. You’ll be amazed at what they’ve made possible through years of trial and error, and they will be happy to explain the amazing variety of trees they’ve brought to the region.
Two Little Birds Flower Farm has its own amazing variety of plant life and Ashley and Hal will be happy to explain their use of beneficial insects and some tricks for harvesting flowers.
And if you want to grow your own flowers or vegetables, Russell Nursery will provide advice on how to turn your residence into a small-scale version of one of the many venues you’ll visit on the tour.
For those Interested in baking (or tasting) the perfect biscotti, Melinda’s Biscotti Café and Bakery will offer some free samples and a behind the scenes tour that will reveal (only) some of Melinda’s secrets.
A visit to 10 Acres Farm will provide some insight to where the food served at Victoria’s 10 Acres Kitchen, Bistro, and Commons restaurants have their start. They’re heirloom plants, passed down through the generations.
Of course no tour of North Saanich agriculture would be complete without visiting the amazing wineries.
Deep Cove Winery is the site of the gala dinner and will also be happy to letting you sample some of the best wines in the region.
Roost Farm Winery will also give you a taste of their outstanding wines, provide a tour and a glimpse at the giant pumpkins and tempt you with wood fired pizza or the charcuterie board.
Howl Brewery is part of the tour as well. It’s a small-batch nano brewery nestled away on a farm where the brews are created using 90 per cent homegrown ingredients. The brewers are on hand to answer all your brewing questions, like, ‘How is a lavender blackberry ale made?’.
Down the road, you’ll find Snowdon House Studio and Farm. Where else can you find rose and cardamom-infused vinegars, bread mixes, rubs, soup mixes and more, all sourced from local products.
The Fickle Fig Farm Market will feature live music, a bakery, bistro and café featuring local produce, meats and preserves. Ask about the annual pork roast at this location and plan a return visit.
At Anneth Farm they’re looking forward to taking visitors on tours and introducing them to some four-legged friends. They’ll also share some traditional recipes that will leave your mouth watering.
At Perfect Pasture Lamb and Country Wools, there’s a chance to meet the young lambs up close and try samples of some culinary delights. Wool products and sheep shearing demonstrations will round out the visit.
And if you’re wondering how to keep those lambs and sheep in line, a visit to the WestCoast Canine Academy Sheep Herding facility will answer all your questions. Sit back and watch the quick-witted dogs round up sheep and guide them through obstacles. It’s a great tradition, kept alive.
Not all traditions are European, of course, as visitors will discover at Kallayanee’s Kitchen. Her farm grows traditional Thai vegetables, herbs and spices that are transformed into delicious Thai creations. She also offers Thai cooking classes.
And speaking of tradition, a visit to Holy Trinity Church offers tea and local berry preserves and a tour of the 134-year-old church. There are wagon rides and people in period costumes will expound on how much the neighbourhood has changed.
In another location, you’ll see an old school that has been transformed into the McTavish Academy of Arts which has become the hub for the arts in North Saanich. There are blackberries to be picked and a giant food mural that visitors can help paint. There are also back gardens to explore and don’t forget the pancake breakfast and field dance.
Traditional Shire horses and carts are also a part of the festival and Taylor Farms is a great place to hop on board and get a ride, courtesy of truly gentle giants of the equine world.
But there are still a few more surprises on the tours. At the CFIA Centre for Plant Health, visitors will have a rare chance to explore the science behind plant health, and at Dominion Brook Park they can check out plants that were brought in as demonstration plants, more than 100 years ago.
The beauty of the festival, of course, is that every person’s interests and experiences will be different and no two tours will be the same. That’s what has kept the nearly 4,000 visitors to the event coming back, year after year. And after 12 years, the Flavour Trails Festival just keeps getting better.