– Celebrate Agricultural Landscapes, Local Food and Good Company while Supporting Local Farmers at the McVean Farm Harvest Table on September 26

(TORONTO, September 20, 2010) The public will have a chance to experience a local organic farm-to-table dining experience as FarmStart, a non-profit organization that supports new farmers, and Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA), celebrate the McVean Farm Harvest Table at the McVean Farm located in Brampton, on Sunday September 26 from noon to 5 pm. Guests will have the opportunity to tour this diverse, ecological farm, meet the farmers, hear live music, and have fun with wagon rides and children’s activities.

“This end of season harvest table is to celebrate the hard work and passion of our new farmers,” said Christie Young, Executive Director of FarmStart, “It is the farmers who make the McVean farm feel so enchanted; their hard work and their dreams.  They come to FarmStart from all walks and stages of life and from countries around the world, but they share a passion for growing good healthy food.  They are ready to bend their backs, get dirt under their nails and struggle through the hard years of building a farm business. And they do it with a smile on their face and a spirit that is contagious. They are building a meaningful career for themselves, but they also are making a real and delicious change in their communities too!”

The highlight of the McVean Farm Harvest Table is a four-course family-style feast made from freshly harvested local food grown by McVean famers and other Ontario Producers. Chef Yasser Qahawish, of Artisanale Café and Bistro, Guelph, Ontario, is bringing together a team of diverse chefs including Bashir Munye of Simply Fresh in Toronto, Chris Jess of The Food School in Fergus, Luis Valenzuela and Alan Vanti of Torito Tapas Bar in Kensington, who will create a delicious meal cooked over coals on the farm and served with locally produced wine and beer.  Chef Qahawish is best known as acclaimed chef of Osgoode Hall Restaurant at the Law Society of Upper Canada, which he turned into a sought-after lunch destination.  His current restaurant, Artisanale Café and Bistro, features simple, elegant and delicious French food that is built on the quality and taste of the freshest, most delicious produce sourced from the some of the best farmers in Ontario.

“Farms like McVean will help build a new generation of skilled, viable and ecologically sustainable farmers in Ontario, who can grow the diverse and high quality produce to feed the thriving and dynamic food culture that we want,” said Chef Yasser Qahawish.

McVean Farm is a historical agricultural property located in the developing north end of Brampton, Ontario.  In partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA), FarmStart is bringing new life to this farm by providing local farmers with access to the land, equipment and infrastructure as well as support during the first years of their farm business start-up.

“The McVean Farm makes up 37 acres of a conservation landscape that is part of TRCA’s growing vision for sustainable near-urban agriculture,” said Sonia Dhir, Project Manager for the Humber Watershed at TRCA. “It has been amazing to watch the growth of the McVean Farm over the past year and exciting to watch the impact these local farmers have had on the community. The community support we’ve seen for the farmers has really brought this project to life and shows that agriculture in the middle of a suburban development can thrive.”

This year, 19 new farmers have established operations at McVean Farm. These farmers, from all over the world, are growing a huge diversity of crops, from honey to mushrooms to a hundred kinds of vegetables including beans, peas, callaloo, melons, eggplant, potatoes, okra, salad greens, peppers, bitter melon and many more. Their produce is fresh picked and often sold directly to their consumers through farmers markets, restaurants, on-farm U-picks and at the McVean Farmer’s Market.

Funds raised at the McVean Farm Harvest Table event will go towards supporting new farmers with critical infrastructure and equipment, training and resources.

Tickets are $75 each, and free for kids under 12.  Purchase tickets on-line at: or call (519)-836-7046 ext. 103.

McVean Farm is located 1km north of Hwy 7 (Queen St.), on McVean Drive (west side) in Brampton, ON

Harvest Table 2010 Menu

(subject to change depending on farmers’ harvest at the time – guaranteed to be fresh)


Starter:  Vegetable tali style course, five different vegetable dishes, featuring the produce from the farm (will be based on what is available)

Intermezzo:Watermelon gazpacho


Lamb – all parts prepared in a variety of ways, cooked over fire

Chicken, cooked over fire

Roasted potatoes and Caribbean pumpkins

Callaloo (greens) and okra

Cheese and honey


Wines from Southbrook vineyards will be paired with the meal

About FarmStart

FarmStart is a not-for-profit organization working toward increasing the presence of young and new farmers, operating their own farm enterprises, within the agriculture community. FarmStart supports and encourages a new generation of farmers to develop economically viable, ecologically sound and locally oriented agricultural enterprises. For more information go to

About TRCA

With over 50 years of experience, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) helps people understand, enjoy and look after the natural environment.  Our vision is for The Living City®, where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature’s beauty and diversity.  For more information, call 416-661-6600 or visit us at

About Artisanale Café and Bistro:

Located in the old part of downtown Guelph and surrounded by Wellington County, home to many superb small farms producing an abundance of beautiful ingredients, Artisanale strives to showcase every season as it was meant to be. Chef Yasser Qahawish seeks out and supports the best farmers in Ontario and treats high quality, locally sourced ingredients with respect and expertise to produce delicious, satisfying and reasonably priced French regional bistro cuisine.

The 2010 McVean Farmers:

  1. Matchbox Garden & Seed Co” with Hanna Jacobs and Eric Rosenkrantz (Toronto), grow a variety of vegetables and herbs, as well as selling seeds and seedlings.
  2. Southern Horizons” with Margaret Zondo (Zimbabwe) and Rodney Garnes (Barbados),  grow various African and other vegetables.
  3. The Cutting Veg” with Daniel Hoffman (Toronto) and his team, grow vegetables and many species of garlic.
  4. The Fresh Veggies” with Bob Balouch (Pakistan), specializes Asian vegetables and strawberries.
  5. Laurel Fortin (Collingwood), grows a variety of vegetables.
  6. Chengying Dong (China), grows button mushrooms.
  7. Kate Hamilton (Toronto), grows vegetables for farmer’s markets.
  8. Luis Canora (Philippines), bee keeper and sells McVean honey.
    1. Peter Senath (Trinidad), specializes in Asian varieties of eggplants.
    2. African Food Basket,” grows African-Caribbean varieties of vegetables and runs an agricultural program for youth.
    3. Happy Bee Farm,” (Poland) keeps bees and sells honey, farmed by Vera Krayeva (Poland).

The 2010 McVean Test Cropper Farmers (1/4 acre each):

  1. Bhupinder Kaul (India/Kashmir)
  2. “Cooperative Semartaine” is a team of Francophone women led by Yvonne Kabeya (Sub-Saharan Africa)
  3. “Eelam Natural Foods” is a team of 4 led by Vic Soma (Sri Lanka)
  4. Joseph Leanage (Sri Lanka) & Wayne Salmon (Jamaica)
  5. Joyce & Stanley Ramnarine (Guyana)
  6. Kate Vinokurov (Toronto)
  7. Montexx Organics” Francis Augistine (Dominican)
  8. Peel Organics” Manmeet Singh (India/Punjab)


For more information, and/or to book interviews, please contact

Rowena Calpito, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA)

T: 416-661-6600 ext. 5632 E:


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