Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Similkameen Valley

There's a place nestled deep in BC's southern interior that is dear to me, a magical place where I once lived and worked, the type of place everyone must live in at least once in their life. The Similkameen Valley, and particularly the small towns of Cawston and Keremeos, are gems full of ranchers, organic farmers, wine makers, artists, and an array of eccentric characters who never cease to amaze me. But, beyond the people, the valley, unique for its dry, desert-like climate, is an ecological wonder. The wild sage along Highway 3 south of Cawston is mystifying, though it's faced with being replaced by row after row of vineyards. I don't drink wine, but if I did I might just stop after seeing so many grapes replace hectares of my beloved sagebrush.

If you have a chance, visit this valley. Veer off the highway anywhere past Keremeos going towards Osoyoos, and visit any number of organic farms. The Similkameen has the largest concentration of organic farms in North America according to my reliable sources, and they're happy to welcome visitors. I went down to Mariposa Farms off Sumac Road near the Washington State border at Nighthawk and picked my own peaches, plums and apricots earlier today, and it was heavenly. And did I mention cheap too. I even bought some low-impact, organic wine from Forbidden Fruit Winery, another valley star. Grab some fruit, and maybe some wine, all organic and fresh, and sit under the searing sun down by the Similkameen River near Kobau Park in Cawston or even in downtown Keremeos. The views of the mountains combined with the fruit juice dripping from your chin are well worth the ride.