Once again, harvest season is wrapping itself around Cowichan like an old familiar blanket. After a hot, dry summer, the shorter days, dropping temperatures, and increased rainfall are a welcome change for the locals. Although the changing weather bundles more people up indoors, autumn is one of the busiest times for the region’s farmers and artisan producers. The fields are harvested, the grapes are plucked, and the apples are picked. With hundreds of farms across the region, harvest is truly something worth celebrating in Cowichan. Here are just a few ways to experience some of what the area has to offer:
Cowichan’s mild and warm micro-climate allows farmers to grow anything from grain to grapes, kiwis to asparagus, and everything in between. As a result, shoppers can indulge in the diversity of the harvest at the Duncan Farmers Market. Open every Saturday, the market is the best place to find local produce, artisan crafts and tasty baked snacks all in one spot.
POUR A GLASS
The region’s cool coastal climate combined with hot and dry summers creates unique conditions for local winemakers. This terroir is home to the sparkling wine Charme De L’île (meaning “charm of the islands”), that can be found only on Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. This bright and bubbly sparkling wine is the perfect local pairing for all of the season’s celebrations. Averill Creek, Unsworth, and Enrico wineries all produce their own Charme De L’île.
A classic autumn tradition is taking the whole family out to McNab’s farm to explore the 7-acre corn maze. Find your way through the maze, then hop on the wagon for a hayride or stroll through the pumpkin patch. Pick out a few ‘gourd-eous’ pumpkins from the patch or farm stand to take home with you.
One of the best ways to taste the harvest is to dine at a truly Farm to Table restaurant. Not only are the ingredients fresh and local, but the chefs are intimately connected to their crops. Deerholme Farm is hosting special dinners throughout the fall that are perfect for mushroom lovers and foragers. Near Lake Cowichan, the Farm Table Inn offers a seasonal menu from Friday to Sunday nights.