Salt Spring Island is where we go to slow down, breathe deeply, and chat with the people behind the food we’re eating. Although the island is only 180 square kilometres, everything you need can be sourced locally: a thriving arts and music scene; family-owned farms; independent restaurants; opportunities to hike, kayak and fish; wellness retreats; and wonderfully friendly people.
Located between Vancouver and Vancouver Island in the Strait of Georgia, it’s a ferry or quick plane ride away from the city.
Most famous of all is the summer farmers market. Ganges, near the centre of the island, is buzzing with friendly chaos as shoppers balance buying what they need for the week and catching up with neighbours and farmers about what’s happening in their corner of the island.
Here, all 140+ vendors must “make it, bake it, or grow it” and all products must be “vendor produced and sold.” It’s a bustling atmosphere on Saturdays from April to October, and on Tuesdays from June to October. Kind of like a kitchen party, but outdoors.
In September, the Fall Fair kicks into gear, something it has done since 1896. Here you’ll find horticulture and livestock competitions, and trophies go out to winners. Our favourite part? It’s a tie between the Pet Parade and Zucchini Races!
Also in the fall is The Salt Spring Apple Festival, where over 350 varieties of organically grown apples are celebrated, and so are the farmers who grow them.
The most well-known farm on the island is Foxglove Farm. Run by Michael Ableman and his wife Jeanne-Marie, Michael is a familiar name in the organic (or, more aptly, beyond organic) farming world. They host people like Joel Salatin in talks and workshops throughout the year. Seriously, look them up.
Visitors can stay right on the farm in a guesthouse. We stayed in the Green Cottage, with our own little front porch for eating dinner on and surrounded by fields of peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, garlic, and strawberries. The best part is you can order baskets of produce that is picked that afternoon and delivered to your front porch in time for dinner.
Food just doesn’t taste any better than that, trust us.
Fun Fact: Salt Spring Island has its own currency. That’s right, there’s a Salt Spring Dollar that is designed with local artist’s work on each denomination and is on par with the Canadian dollar.