The Whole Harvest: Celebrating the Ontario Greenbelt at the 2014 Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

Performers at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, 2014. From left to right: Laura Cole, Ron Sexsmith, Sarah Harmer.

Not to brag, but I had a pretty packed Saturday.

I saw almost a dozen great performers live. I visited over 20 booths at one of the largest farmers' markets I've been to. I learnt how to identify stink bugs (hint: they smell like coriander). And I even went for a rainy-day swim.

Rock stars, farmers' markets, horticulture lessons and swimming—it might seem like an odd mix. But at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, all these things share a common greenbelt ground.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are delicious highlights of the event.

The annual Harvest Picnic, held at Dundas Ontario's Christie Lake Conservation Area, is the all-day event that celebrates what's great about the Greenbelt from within the Greenbelt.

As with past years, this year’s Harvest Picnic featured a breadth of activities, speakers and performers. The day had everything from a kids fishing pond, to farming and gardening workshops, to performances by, among others, Ray LaMontagne, Bruce Cockburn and Sarah Harmer.

There was a lot going on, but it worked.

The Christie Lake area, 336 hectares of protected land in the Niagara Escarpment, easily accommodates the Harvest Picnic's two stages, hundreds of vendors, dozens of workshops and thousands of revelers. And, because the area also boast 10 kilometres of trails and a 360-meter sand beach—you can go for a hike, paddle, or swim right in the midst of the festivities.

To top it off, the Harvest Picnic gives local producers a chance to share what they grow, make, or do with an audience of thousands.

Over a glass of chocolate milk, Rob Inaber, sales manager with Harmony Organic Dairy, explained to me how the Harvest Picnic helps to grow his customer base.

"People try our product, and they realize they love our milk and want to know more. What's so great is that people might come out for the music and they might not be aware of the issues [around local food and Ontario farming] but then they come by the booths. They see all of us here and they come see what we're doing. It's great - people might come to see a show but then can be exposed to new ideas, to new ways of living."

chocolate milk
Rob Inaber pours me a glass of Harmony Organic Chocolate Milk.

A few booths over from Harmony Organic, Jerry Bargmeman, owner of Jerry's Berries Raspberries, echoed Inaber's sentiment.

"Harvest picnic is probably the highlight of our season.

That fact that we’re here in Christie Lake – it's just fantastic. We've got the lake to our back, the greenery to the front, and the stage to left. I don’t think you can beat this."

The serene backdrop of the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic.

He's right, it was a pretty great day.

See more photos from the day on our Facebook.

-- Digital Media Assistant

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