“When you go to Victoria, make a trip up to Salt Spring Island to meet Michael Abelman,” our son told us. Our son wouldn’t steer us wrong, so we planned a day trip, enlisting our friends on Vancouver Island, Ira and Rebecca, to go with us.
On a Sunday morning we drove up to Swartz Bay to take the ferry across to Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. We stopped for coffee at the Morningside Café, full of character and a no-nonsense barista. (Read between the lines on that one.)
We drove on to visit Michael Abelman at Foxglove Farm. The drive took us to the interior, climbing up towards the highest point, Mt Maxwell. Foxglove Farm is the largest organic farm on the island. Michael has accomplished a lot in the eleven or so years he’s been there. Long hoop houses provide controlled climate for tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, melons. Corn, asparagus, many varieties of beans and potatoes, huge onions, the tastiest strawberries ever, lush lettuces, and many more vegetables are growing in orderly fields. Old orchards still provide fruit. The apples are turned into cider.
Michael’s mission goes beyond growing vegetables and fruit for Salt Spring Island. He has a huge urban agriculture project in Vancouver, Sole Food Street Farms, located in the original skid row. He also lectures and writes on growing food issues.
We all walked back to the farmhouse for lunch. A huge bowl of mixed greens was the centerpiece. Rebecca was so taken with the sun gold tomatoes that she claimed the last few in the bowl as hers.
Before we left, Michael mapped out a few worthwhile stops for us to make before the return ferry. First up was the Salt Spring Cheese factory where we saw the cheese production through windows when we walked around the building. The samples were tasty, and we made our purchases. Next was Tony’s Tarts, a highly recommended bakery. Alas, it was closed on Sundays, so we continued on our way to Ruckle Provincial Park, a forested area on the water. We had just enough time to hike to an overlook and take a group photo to show “we made it here!”
The Fulford ferry stop had a number of little shops nearby and some pleasant scenery to take in while we waited. Rebecca and Beth looked at the shops. Ira and Joe found the bicycle shop and chatted with the owner. He doesn’t rent bikes, but he does loan them.
The ferry arrived; we jumped into our car and followed other vehicles onto the loading ramp. As soon as we drove on to the boat, Joe and Ira headed for the deck. Beth and Rebecca raced inside to get a little table to play Bananagrams.
For many, this ferry crossing would have been the end of a perfect day, but we fit in one more special stop back in Victoria: Il Terrazzo. Our dinners were divine and the one dessert (shared by all), a flourless chocolate torte, topped with cherries in syrup and vanilla ice cream, provided the perfect end to a special day.