On behalf of Tourism Kelowna, I want to wish you all the very best for the new year and hope everyone’s holiday season was extra generous, warm, and cozy…. kind of like these wonderful locally made Alpaca socks that came to me over the holidays and are on my feet as we speak, er, write. Come to think of it, locally-made treats were a theme over the holidays for my family, and it is quite possible that how these gifts left us feeling (really good) ended up influencing my choice of new year’s resolutions (keeping it that way). I would like to offer this as a possible new year’s resolution to all of us lucky enough to call Kelowna home: let’s take stock of our city’s cornucopia of locally grown and made items and really get to know the abundance of our locality this year. Let’s resolve to think local at every possible opportunity and to share our pride in local producers and crafters with our visitors as much as we can.
If we are entertaining friends and family, let’s opt for wine from down the street rather than from afar – better yet, let’s take the opportunity to stop in at the winery to pick some up. The experience at the winery and any new changes there from the last time you stopped in will make for a fun story to accompany your bottle. When you need cooking ingredients, you might choose to stop in at a store that you know has local products – places like the BC Fruit Coop on Clement Ave, the Farmers’ Market (on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm in the Parkinson’s Rec Centre until the first Saturday in April), or smaller retailers where those local relationships have been established.
Need a new book? Mosaic Books on Bernard or in Rutland have a wealth of books written by local authors – everything from cookbooks like Jennifer Schell’s Okanagan Cookbook, to non-fiction about local trails and history like Laurie Carter’s Grandma Wears Hiking Boots, to fiction like Jack Whyte’s historically-sound Arthurian fiction series.
Then there are the aforementioned Alpaca socks… Mittens, scarves, hats, blankets, and other super cozy items are made by artisan farmers who tend to their animals at local farms. You can find Alpaca items at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, or you can go online to browse items at West Kelowna’s Sierra Vista Alapacas or Lake Country’s Oyama Lake Alpaca Farm.
If you want to get a quick snapshot of some of our local farmers and artisans, you can pick up the brand new, hot-off-the-press Kelowna & Area Visitors Guide 2013 at the Visitor Centre at 544 Harvey Ave. I point out this publication because it is current and I know the work that went into it by my Tourism Kelowna colleagues; but also watch for the Studio & Farm Tour brochure which is also produced by Tourism Kelowna and will be coming out in the spring. These are places that not only make great products, they are also wonderful tourism experiences whenever you have people in town who really want to get to know the character of the area.
Different seasons give us access to different local products – and although we are in the middle of winter, there are still many opportunities to opt for local products. Let’s resolve to make this a relationship that continues throughout the year and allows us to add depth whenever we come across a new item made in the Okanagan with love.