Column: Honour Stands and Organic Roadside Attractions

Someone asked me to rifle through the rust last week and chip off some memories about how Slow Food Cycle got started. I’m starting to think it might have been Linda Welsh’s fault. For this reason alone: sticky buns.

In the time before Pemberton had a weekly Farmers Market, or Mile One Eating House, where Linda’s Simply Delicious baking could be experienced, only friends and locals knew that Linda’s sticky buns were heaven-and-earth moving things.

Jeanette Helmer happened to have a fresh plate of gooey goodness on hand, when I took up an invitation from the eldest Helmer farm-kid, Anna, for a chat and a cuppa, up at the farm.

I’ve never made this connection before. Idea-jamming with newly discovered like-minded co-conspirators makes me giddy – so I just attributed the buzz to kismet, karma, or a rising creative mojo – but that’s delusional. It was actually the sugar.

254319_136288316446530_3506240_nCould a secret stash of cinnamon buns, that could only be procured by those in the know, have sparked the whole Slow Food Cycle movement? Driven by my subconscious agenda to access a hidden world of growers and bakers of sweet treats?

These days, a sticky bun hit can be had at Blackbird Bakery (if you’re early enough), and Tourism Pemberton and a whole new group of growers are making Slow Food Cycle what it is. But I still relish discovering new farmers and makers, as if every single person who opts to devote their labour to crafting something nourishing or beautiful out of raw elements, is one more for the Good Guys.

I’m so blindly biased this way that once, road-tripping in Australia, I made my partner pull over at an honour stand, not noticing how creepy and isolated the place was, until he jumped out to drag me back into the car. “You want to get BOTULISM? Look around!” Spell broken, I took stock of my surroundings. I could hear heat waves bouncing off the tin roof. A blind twitched in the window, but nobody emerged from the slanting building. The jars lids of the proffered preserves were flecked with rust.

In Pemberton, random roadside stands don’t smack of the Zombie apocalypse. They really are run by the good guys. Like 15 year old Erica Van Loon, who helms the Goat Mountain Produce Stand, the ultimate honour veggie stand at the start of the Hurley.

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Or Riley and Michelle, who stock Bandit Farms’ roadside stand on the corner of Collins Road and Pemberton Meadows Road, every Saturday from 11am to 3pm, with organic produce. Sometimes Michelle is there. Sometimes, you just leave your money in the box.

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Sam and Calida at Bathtub Gardens have an honour flower fridge on Urdal Road, where you can get bunches of blooms, fresh from their field. And just down the road, you might catch Eric and Parveen’s cooler still stocked with eggs.

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There’s Amy and Jules’ new Saturday morning honour stand at the bottom of the Reid Road, where you can pick up a bouquet of flowers, vase included, or a huge bag of microgreens from the cooler.

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Or visit with Dale and Rich, whose Lemonade and Bannock sugar-shack in Mt Currie, just across from Lil’wat Gas, makes kids crazy, as Wellness Almanac contributor Janet Ouchterlony revealed in her post about the start of “bannock begging season.”

“Legend has it that one child convinced his parents to stop in for bannock three times in one day. Another time, a child came in armed with $50, slapped it into Dale’s hands and said, ‘How much can I get for this?’”

It’s not just the kids who are hooked, says Ouchterlony. There’s a steady stream of adults – locals and tourists. “It’s a gathering place, akin to the barbershops of old or the local coffee shop. Minus the haircuts and the coffee, of course.”

Two bucks for lemonade, three bucks for traditional bannock, and the gluten’s free.

Forget the urban food truck craze. Honour stands and random roadside stops, to me, are quintessential Pemberton. Whether you’re cycling by, or not.

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