This year’s fall season seems extra special, doesn’t it? As we celebrate another harvest, which culminates around the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s understandable why many may not wish to see the upside of an occasion that’s traditionally observed to give thanks, especially in the year of COVID-19. Even more so if gathering with the ones we love is ultimately discouraged this year (remember Easter?).
Our health and happiness have been tested, yes, but the human need to express gratitude seems to be a powerful and almost universal phenomenon – even during an unprecedented time such as this.
Thanksgiving has always had a special place in the hearts of most farming families. It’s a time for farmers to not only give thanks, but to celebrate the fruits of their labours at the end of a harvest season that can stretch for weeks and months (grape harvests don’t finish until the end of November for some). But this year is different.
Aside from the tireless efforts of our local farming and business community working to mitigate lost revenues throughout the year, it’s the persistence of this pandemic – which we’ve been battling for more than eight months now – that has been the most draining. It’s been a sad year for many, and it would be understandable if most are looking at a glass half empty right about now. But as the famous Emory Austin quote goes: “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”
We’ve been given all the reasons in the world to support our local businesses, more so than ever before – countless times, I understand. But I’ll re-emphasize that shopping at these small businesses not only puts more money into our local economies, it also keeps alive the diversity of options that makes each community unique. You’re directly supporting your community, and that is something that’s very essential.
The LCBO started a province-wide initiative in September called ‘Pair it Forward’, designed to help rebuild our industry by celebrating Ontario’s spectacular food and beverage makers. Local wineries and breweries are being asked to pair it forward and share their favourite pairings for their products, shining a spotlight on local farmers, growers, makers and restaurants throughout the province.
The point of Embrace the Taste of Home is to highlight the fact that harvest 2020 has begun and therefore the perfect time to celebrate our local bounty. Homegrown goods, including cheeses, freshly made pasta and tomato sauce, Niagara peach chutney and more that pair with a glass of locally crafted wine. Could there be anything better?
And while Taste the Season is typically an on-site experience this time of year in Niagara-on-the-Lake at various participating wineries, the ‘at home’ initiative is designed to provide harder to find wines, those that are only available at the wineries, and have them shipped directly to your home. Winery members have created one-of-a-kind Taste the Season six-packs featuring 100 percent local VQA wines that are perfect for holiday entertaining. Each gift pack also includes a fabulous recipe or two from a local restaurant chef that has been expertly paired with the wines included in the pack. With these recipes, you will be able to easily create your own Taste the Season experience at home for the family. More information on ordering your own six-pack can be found by visiting Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s newly updated website here.
This cry for action is not just about our wineries and our restaurants however. We have to support the bigger picture. Our dairy farmers who help to produce locally made cheeses, our fruit orchards and vegetable growers, local bee farms for producing honey, our wheat farmers and our beef, pork and poultry farmers. They’re all important to us.
So as we prepare ourselves for another fall and winter season, let’s not only reflect on reasons to be thankful for what we have and what we’re able to grow on a local level, let’s also support our local suppliers.