Salt Spring Island Apple Festival Travel Planner
As autumn sets in, harvest festivals abound throughout the Pacific Northwest. At the annual Salt Spring Island Apple Festival, the apple gets to shine.
From heirloom to commoner, with names like Hidden Rose, Northern Spy, and Irish Peach, and in all sizes and shapes, from perfectly round to gnarly and slightly flattened, apples come in an astonishing 350 varieties—tree-ripened, dew-sweetened, and grown organically on Salt Spring Island.
Spearheaded by apple farmer, educator, and island resident Harry Burton, this family-friendly event, now in its 13th year, kicks off at Fulford Hall, where the just-harvested varieties are displayed along with pies baked by the Apple Pie Ladies, who use the best cooking apples from the area.
(The aroma is worth the entry fee alone.)
Through light-hearted skits and music, attendees can learn about apple history in the world (the Gravenstein dates back to the 1600s) and on Salt Spring, whose apple history dates back to 1860 and was the island’s main cash crop in the 1920s.
The entry fee includes a map to 17 orchards, where you can taste and see the apples at their source. For an additional fee, many of the farms—including Burton’s Apple Luscious—will be offering alfresco meals, from Thai and gluten-free, to lamb and farm-fresh (menus will be announced at the farm gates). Proceeds from this year’s festival will go towards a fruit processing facility for juicing and pasteurizing. —Shelora Sheldan
B.C. Ferries (888-223-3779, ) sail from Vancouver Island, from either Swartz Bay or Departure Bay, or via Tsawwassen terminal on the mainland.
Harbour Air (800-665-0212, ) floatplanes fly direct from Vancouver to Ganges on Salt Spring Island.
Where to go
Consider spending the weekend and taking in Salt Spring Island’s Saturday Market, where farmers, artisan bakers, cheesemongers, and craftspeople come together in Centennial Park on the waterfront to sell their wares.
The intrepid culinary explorer would be wise to buy picnic fixings at the following food artisans:
Atop a bluff, with Mount Baker views in the distance, Heather Campbell (aka “the bread lady”) bakes flatbreads, baguettes, and sweet loaves from her wood-burning oven. She’s opening her studio (251 Forest Ridge Road, 250-653-4809) during the Apple Festival, selling bread right out of the oven plus barbecued local pork and apple pies.
Choose from a selection of cheeses and take in the beautiful setting at the home of Salt Spring Island Cheese (251 Forest Ridge Road, 250-653-4809), where you can watch both cheesemaker David Wood at his craft and his goats frolic between milkings.
For produce, check out the organic, 120-acre Foxglove Farm (1200 Mt. Maxwell Road, 250-931-5336) for peppers, tomatoes, and other seasonal produce.
Attendees wanting to include grapes in their itinerary can check out these noted wineries:
Mistaken Identity (164 Norton Road, 250-538-9463) grows 100-percent organic grapes on its estate, and makes excellent rosé, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, and Merlot.
Salt Spring Vineyards (151 Lee Road, 250-653-9463 ) offers a lovely setting for enjoying their Blanc de Noir, as well as an Apple Pie dessert wine made from local apples.
Garry Oaks Winery (1880 Fulford-Ganges Road, 250-653-4687) is known for its Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, but gaining a reputation for the Zweigelt and Leon Millot varietals.
Where to Stay
Salt Spring Vineyards
151 Lee Road
Green Acres Lakeside Cottage Resort
241 Langs Road
160 Upper Ganges Road
From the September/October issue of Northwest Palate Magazine