British Columbia

Rope swings, barbed wire and tractor tires: farmland workout before lunch

Food columnist Gail Johnson dives into a farm-inspired, food-lover obstacle course

CBC News

September 26, 2017

The obstacles at the race are all farm-inspired from feeding animals to swinging over manure piles. (Chris Stenberg)

The farm-to-table concept is nothing new and while more people might know the name of the farm where their corn and blueberries are grown, they're probably not as familiar with all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

An obstacle course race in the Okanagan, filled with challenges from the day-to-day life of a farmer, is one way for people to get a better sense of what farm life is all about.

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On the Coast food columnist Gail Johnson dove head first into the Home Hardware Freak'n Farmer Adventure Obstacle Race this past weekend in Oliver, B.C.

"I would say the event is a cross between outdoor school and American Ninja Warrior," said Johnson.

The five kilometre route had Johnson swinging over mud puddles on a rope, traversing monkey bars above manure, flipping tractor tires, belly crawling under barbed wire and carrying heavy bags of dirt. There was also a longer 10 and 20 kilometre course with more obstacles.

"Remember, this is all taking place amid absolutely gorgeous surroundings," she said. "On a produce farm, you've got to stop and admire the edible bounty all around you."

The farm where the race is held, at Covert Farms Family Estate, is overrunning with chickens, llamas, Barbados blackbelly sheep and highland cattle, Johnson said. It also grows dozens of different crops like eggplant, peppers, strawberries, nectarines and grapes.

The obstacle race takes place in September every year. (Chris Stenberg)

Well-earned lunch

Johnson said the event really made her pause and appreciate where her food and wine comes from—all the more enjoyable after a hard, muddy workout.

"Lunch was a feast catered by Fuel Your Fire," she said. "They specialize in healthy meals based on the pillars of paleo eating. For us Freak'n Farmers, that meant a meal of pulled pork, carrots and a quinoa salad."

For drinks, Johnson said her beverage of choice was the semi-dry cider Revival from Howling Moon Craft Cider. There was a selection of organic, hand-harvested wines from Covert Farms Family Estate  and beers from the local Penticton's Cannery Brewing and Oliver's Firehall Brewery.

"I love these events that combine food and fitness — my two passions," Johnson said. "You definitely earn your meal after that kind of workout."

Upcoming Okanagan food events 

Covert Farm's Final Harvest Dinner
Saturday, September 30

"The menu is still being finalized, but it's a five-course meal paired with Covert Family Estate wines."

Garlic Festival
Saturday, September 30

"The sixth annual event is held at Hester Creek Estate Winery. There will be 20 local garlic growers on site as well as food carts, artisan crafters, and live music. Proceeds go to the Oliver Elementary School Farm to Table lunch program."

Festival of the Grape 
Sunday, October 1

"There will be wine tastings, an art show and sale and a grape-stomping competition."

With files from On The Coast

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