Chefs use food to fight mega-quarry proposal 0
Local chef Michael Stadtl?nder (left0 prepares pork for a seven-course meal in the woods on FrenchÕs Farm in Township of Melancthon. The farm will be the setting of Foodstock on Oct. 16. Kristen Smith/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin
Drawing its inspiration from the 1969 festival of music and art, Foodstock organizers are anticipating 200,000 people to gather at a Melancthon Township farm.
The festival aims to raise awareness of the proposed mega quarry in the area and raise money for the "stop the mega quarry" fight.
The event may sound a bit like Woodstock, too, with Canadian musicians, including Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, Sarah Harmer, and Hayden, performing in an open field. (Rubber boots suggested.)
But, the focus is definitely on food.
About 100 chefs from across Canada will descend on French's Farm on Oct. 16, cooking utensils in hand.
The chefs will cook over open fires along a wooded path which leads to a small clearing in the maple trees. Chefs with larger equipment, such as smokers and barbeques will cook just beyond the tree line.
A little more than half the chefs are from Toronto, including Jamie Kennedy and Canoe Restaurant's Anthony Walsh. A number of local restaurants have gotten involved also, including Chez Michel in Creemore, Tesoro in Collingwood, and Rocky Raccoon Café in Owen Sound.
Local chef Michael Stadtländer, of Eigensinn Farm and Haisai Restaurant, is heading up the event with the Canadian Chefs' Congress.
Stadtländer says Foodstock's intention is to protest the quarry, and celebrate the land.
A 2,316-acre quarry has been proposed on the other side of road from the Foodstock site.
The Highland Companies' proposed quarry would be about 200 feet deep - and since the water table is high the company would pump out water every day to keep the quarry from filling up.
Those opposed to the quarry are concerned it has the potential of affecting several headwaters, including the Credit River, the Humber River, the Nottawasaga River, the Beaver Valley River, and the Saugeen River.
The company has purchased 99 farms (at about $8,000 an acre) since 2006 for the operation of a large-scale potato farming operation. It submitted its aggregate quarry application this January.
"They're really dividing the community apart," said David Waters, volunteer co-ordinator and real estate agent.
Bill French is one of four farmers who did not sell his land.
"This land will probably out-produce any land in Ontario," said French. "If they want to stay here and grow potatoes we'd be more than welcome to have them as neighbours."
The Minister of the Environment announced an environmental assessment of the Highland Companies' quarry proposal at the beginning of this month.
"When you drive around and look at the green fields, your heart just sinks thinking that all this could be blasted," said Miriam Streiman, local food advocate and new Melancthon Township resident.
Streiman is co-ordinating the Foodstock chefs. Food is being donated by local farmers and chefs are being provided with a list of ingredients available for their dishes.
"It's very powerful -the chef community working with the farm community," she said.
Stadtländer says he plans on sticking with a "from-the-earth" theme, and is making something using potatoes, cabbage, and pumpkin. The chefs in residence at his Singhampton restaurant Haisai, Jörg Neth and Marita Gomez, will be making an apple dessert.
"I don't like to see this place ripped apart," said Stadtländer, whose farm is nearby.
But the organizers continuously stressed the idea that this quarry would affect more than the Township of Melancthon.
"If you eat and you drink, it affects you," said Waters.
The entry fee for Foodstock is by donation -pay what you can. The event runs from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at French's Farm, which is just west of Highway 124 and north of 20th Sideroad.