Sooke Slow Food Cycle volunteers gathered at the Sunriver Community Garden in August to organize the first Sooke Slow Food Cycle. From left: treasurer Samm Port

Cycle slowly through the farming community

Sooke Slow Food Cycle inaugural event

This Thanksgiving Sunday on Oct. 9, a few local community groups would like people to take a break from their turkey basters to participate in the first annual Sooke Slow Food Cycle.

Happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the bike ride starts at Sooke Harbour House  — split into either a 33-kilometre advanced route (along the water and country roads west of Sooke) or an 18-km “green route” (off-road trails east through town to the Galloping Goose) — and ends at the T-Sou-ke Nation. Along the way, there are optional stops at farms, homes, businesses and green spaces for mini-workshops on sustainable living. Topics range from bike repair to worm composting.

There will also be some food sampling, although SSFC director Lee Hindrichs says that’s not the only thing it’s about.

“Slow food is more than just around food, it’s also a movement looking at sustainability and looking at local,” she said.

“This whole event looks at how do we become part of the solution? Positive solutions that each of us can adapt easily.”

An idea for a bike ride first came to Hindrichs last February, and she discussed it with Jon Cash, former president of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce. The idea has since blossomed into a joint venture between the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society, JDF Coalition, Slow Food Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands, Food CHI and T’Sou-ke First Nation, and continues to evolve.

“It’s a special event that seems to have a life of it’s own,” said Hindrichs. “At the T’Sou-ke Nation we’re having a solar tour of their village and there will be closing ceremonies there, but we’ve just learned there are musicians forming there as well. There will be a drumming circle of international music.”

The tour is a ticketed event ($21 per person, $42 for families) with $1 from each ticket sale being donated to nutrition-based cancer research on behalf of three Sooke-area farmers battling cancer. Any profits will go back into the community, she said.

There will also be a free symposium open to the public at the same time the cyclists are riding called The Collective Transition. Taking place at John Phillips Memorial Park, it is also the middle point where both cycling groups meet. Visitors can test ride electric bikes, learn about permaculture (forming a living relationship with nature) and take in performances.

Hindrichs, a former nurse who now works as a wellness practitioner, said she envisions a long history for Sooke Slow Food Cycle.

“It will be a yearly event, next year is already in the works,” said Hindrichs, who hopes the tour will eventually extend to Port Renfrew and be part of the Pacific Marine Circle Route.

Tickets are available at The Stick and Sooke Harbour House, or online at www.sookeslowfoodcycle.com.

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