Sandspitians are buzzing after the second Wild Harvest Festival welcomed hundreds to Moresby Island for mushroom forays and freshly foraged cuisine.
Hosted at the Sandspit Inn and Sandspit community hall last month, the wild foods festival is growing leaps and bounds.
“We got slammed,” says organizer Flavien Mabit
“This got attention from the whole islands.”
Mabit said the two Saturday night dinners created by Chef Edi Szasz sold out quickly, as did rooms at the Sandspit Inn.
Even more encouraging is that the Wild Harvest Cafe and vendors’ tables in the community hall were also packed, as were the botany, cultural, and mushroom walks that volunteers led around Sandspit, Copper Bay, and Skidegate Lake. Buses were donated for the event by the Sandspit Community Society, and driven by volunteers from Moresby Explorers.
Visitors actually overwhelmed the first-year cafe, which was made cozy with couches, table lamps and fresh food by guest Chef Elizabeth Flegg. All the food was gone by 2 p.m., and Mabit said the cafe will be a big focus next year.
“If you were to come just for the day, and not be able to stay for the dinner, you’l still be able to have a great time,” he said.
Among other highlights this year were botany walks led by Stu Crawford and Laura Bishop — Crawford wowed walkers by eating an edible centipede along the way — and a cultural tour of Copper Bay led by Jenny Cross.
While the speakers list changed last-minute, Haida Gwaii-style, Mabit said it was a perfect mix, with nature photographer Laura Sample running a slideshow, and members of the Haida Gwaii Food Pantry and Farm to Schools programs giving lively talks.
For Mabit, a big highlight was having his parents all the way from France to not only take it in, but also to lead a mushroom foray. One of their surprise finds was a cauliflower mushroom — a choice edible that can grow up to 60 pounds and with a very distinctive look.
“It looks like a big pile of fresh noodles, or like a brain sometimes,” said Mabit, and makes for a fine soup.
Asked about next year, Mabit said he expects more people will want a chance to present given the event’s popularity. A few more pre-event organizers would also help a lot.
“I think it’s just going to grow exponentially,” he said.
“That’s a great thing for Sandspit residents.”