Salmo's Shambhala Music Festival goes beyond music to gardens and food.

Kootenay festival fare

Organic, local and sustainable are the focus of many festival menus around Nelson.

Organic, local and sustainable are rarely words festival-goers associate with the food they eat, but that may because they haven’t been to a festival in the Kootenays.

Music festivals like Starbelly Jam and Shambhala not only showcase local musical and artistic talent but culinary passion as well.

Shambhala hosts a group of veteran vendors at their annual festival many of which are local favourites.

“There are a lot of locals. We find that vendors who have event experience whether it is at ours or others, so we try to bring in those with experience,” said Sara Victor ticket and vendor administrator for Shambhala. “As much as possible we try to make sure each vendor has a unique sales experience.”

You won’t find doubling up of products at Shambhala. There is one vendor selling wraps, one selling tacos and so on.

“El Taco does the curry corner (which is one of our most popular vendors), Rockingham’s does wraps and salads and skewers does Greek food. Those three are huge every year,” said Victor.

Kootenay Mountain Grill does perogies, grilled cheese and the breakfast plate that everybody loves, Dragonfly who is a Salmo local comes out and does her paninis and Bluebelle Bistro from Kaslo does burritos.

“We do have pizza, burgers and fries but as much as possible we stress to have our vendors try and keep it local and organic,” said Victor.

In an effort to support local farmers Shambhala has pushed more for local and organic but has found that many vendors have already gone that route.

The Salmo River Ranch which is a working farm when the festival is not going on, has converted a half acre plot of land to a garden so that they can start growing food to feed staff, volunteers and eventually guests at the festival.

“The gardening project started last year,” said Kelly Moore who is one of Shambhala’s gardeners. “They approached me last year and said we want to do gardening. We had two big circle gardens about 50 feet in diameter and some planter boxes, and after last year there was just this drive to have it grow and keep as much on the farm as we can.”

The festival is hoping to grow berries for their smoothie bar and anything else that is in season like lettuce, garlic, herbs and perennial gardens with edible flowers.

“This is a big learning experience not only with what we grow but also in how much is needed to supply our vendors,” said Victor.

Moore added that they will also be working with the kitchens to have menus modified to what is in season.

“It’s a collaborative effort among a lot of people at the festival to make this all happen,” said Moore.

The gardens will also be used as a learning tool to teach festival-goers about composting and gardening.

“We want people to not only experience the festival when they come to Shambhala but also experience the Kootenays and our way of life,” said Victor. “All of us have gardens and we all try to grow what we eat. I think to translate our lifestyle into a large scale project is just phenomenal.”


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