When I moved to St. Thomas in 2011 from the GTA, one of the most exciting treasures of this region was the access to local food, something that isn’t easily attainable in the urban sprawl. My previous experience with farmers’ markets were resellers that picked up “local” produce from the food terminal, hurriedly peeling off stickers to pawn off the fruit and veg to unsuspecting urbanites. What we have here is a whole different experience. While settling into my new home, I quickly became a regular at local farm stalls and the Horton Farmers’ Market, places where the people you buy your vegetables from are the same that took the care to grow them. The contacts you can foster here are not something that can be replicated in a community that isn’t in touch with the local agriculture. It is precisely this connection that led me to be a quick supporter of FreshFest.

FreshFest was born out of a demand for the 100-mile diet, and as soon as I moved here it was on my radar and helped me fall in love with this community. I know I am not the only person that gets excited for this event every year. The support is apparent in the buzz you feel in the room; this year, the buzz was created by the 250 hungry patrons and the 14 local food and beverage vendors showcasing their creations. The most important aspect of this event is the hundreds of connections being made between the farms, the vendors, and the community members.

FreshFest has been gaining momentum and this tenth anniversary was no exception. To celebrate the people behind this momentum, last year we introduced the Freshie Awards. This year the People’s Choice went to the reigning champion at Destination Catering and the Most Local was awarded to Orchard Hill Farm CSA, closely followed by Elgin Harvest and Windjammer. We truly have something to celebrate in this community!

What will next year offer? The planning committee has a lot of options on the table and we are excited to explore them!

Guest post by Petrusia HontarChair of FreshFest 2018 and City of St. Thomas Council Candidate.