25th Anniversary Feast of Fields brings FRUITful Community Support

By: Emilie Azevedo & Michael Smith

As the sun set over Ottawa City Hall and the smell of fresh food wafted through the air, patrons enjoyed a variety of meals sourced and prepared by local farmers and chefs. Feast of Fields, a farm to table culinary experience celebrated the 25th anniversary of their event on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021. The purpose of this gathering: fundraising for Carefor, a non for profit healthcare organization.

Carefor supports Ottawa’s elderly community members by providing home care services and programs for people living with dementia. Dementia is a very isolating disease and taking care of a loved one is a full time job. Thanks to Carefor, people have the “ability to bring a loved one with dementia to a program where they can connect with others in the same situation and be around trained professionals, while [the loved one] can take a day to just breathe,” says Trevor Eggleton, the manager of communications, marketing & fundraising for Carefor. “We want to give support and attention to not just the people living with dementia, but their loved ones as well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is especially dangerous for seniors and those living with pre-existing health conditions. “Speaking from personal experience, my father is aging and suffering from dementia. The work that Carefor does in regards to health care for the elderly is very important, especially right now,” said Carole Saad, Event Designer and president of Lou Lou Lounge, who supplied furniture for the event.  Their significant work will continue, with the added support of the $41,000 raised at the event.

This fundraising achievement was accomplished despite the attendee numbers being reduced to ensure social distancing. Considering everyone’s safety, tickets were reserved for those who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Marianne Abou-Hamad, a patron who attended the event, said, “It makes sense in terms of comfort levels.” She said that a lot of people have been very cautious throughout the pandemic and followed all the rules, “this is kind of a bonus to incentivize vaccination.”

The night itself featured foods from various chefs, including Inuk Chef Trudy Metcalfe-Coe. For Metcalfe-Coe, the night was not only about supporting a good cause, but also educating people through traditional food. 

Metcalfe-Coe paired maple glazed smoked arctic char from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, with cloudberries picked by her daughter in Ramekin Inlet. 

The significance of the ingredients used runs deep for Metcalfe-Coe. “It’s my food. Culturally it’s important… and for me, it’s important to educate about where I came from, what we do and what we eat.” 

The effort took to obtain the ingredients she used shows her commitment to displaying her culture through cooking. “I get my food out of the arctic, which is almost three thousand miles away,” said Metcalfe-Coe. 

For her, the distance is no issue. Being able to use non-farmed, fresh products and support locals is what makes it worth it. “The cost for me is I’m supporting my community. I’m supporting Inuit hunters and fishers. And they’re supporting me. It’s a give and a take,” she said. 

Overall, Metcalfe-Coe says she likes to give back to the community, and volunteering her time for Feast of Fields is one of those ways. 

The sense of community at the heart of this event was felt throughout. Reflecting on the farm to table experience Carole Saad said, “ It’s very interesting to be part of the restaurants whose philosophy is farm to table and who make a point of supporting local farmers and using fresh produce to create their dishes, everything is a pecking order. I’m here as a furniture supplier, supporting Carefor, the chefs are here supporting the farms, everybody needs to support one another to come out of the pandemic and that’s the way the community should be.”

Just because Feast of Fields is over for the year, doesn’t mean the community support has to stop. If you missed the event and would like to donate to Carefor you can do so on their website. In the meantime, you can subscribe to Carefor’s email subscription for updates on events, including next year’s Feast of Fields. Which you won’t want to miss.