Nothing beats heading to the countryside on the weekend to revel in the open spaces, fresh air and slower pace of life, especially when the half-hour-or-so drive from downtown Ottawa takes you past the changing fall colours of the Gatineau Hills to a picturesque hobby farm belonging to Ottawa writer Hattie Klotz and her entrepreneurial husband, Chris.
The Klotz Farm, located just north of Wakefield, Que in Farrellton, played host Sunday to Tunes and Spoons, an inaugural $150-a-ticket fundraiser that was expected to yield a bumper crop of money totalling more than $25,000. The proceeds will help support local farmers grow and supply fresh produce to the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre in Vanier. It will then distribute the food — through its grocery-store on wheels MarketMobile initiative — to low-income individuals and families.
Klotz organized the benefit over the past three months with Erin Clatney, owner of Dish Catering; Taryn Manias, director of sales and business development at Rebel.com, as well as principal of SMASH public relations firm; and Janet Wilson, senior account director at Hill+Knowlton Strategies.
“The vision was to shine a spotlight on people who don’t have good, healthy and nutritious food, as well as to support small-scale local organic farmers by getting their good food on the tables of those people who might not otherwise have access to it,” Klotz told OBJ.social.
The proverbial seeds were planted last November during the Ottawa International Writers Festival. Klotz had been on stage interviewing author Brent Preston, co-owner of The New Farm near Creemore, Ont., when she learned how he and his wife created an annual back-to-nature music model (the Tragically Hip played in their barn one year) to provide local, healthy organic food to a Toronto community food hub.
"That's what got me thinking," said Klotz, who was already using their family farm to entertain friends. “I wanted to share the magic of this place, to try and leverage it to do some good. I don’t have big fat cheques to write, but we — my husband and I — own this beautiful place and we can use it to do some good.”
Some 250 guests were invited to walk around the expansive property, which featured a beautifully renovated farm house with a cozy burning fireplace; a decorated, century-old barn, where Colin Linden, of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and his band later played; a swimming pool and grass tennis court; and friendly horses. It was a very relaxed and intimate event, full of laughter, conversation, good food and music.
There was an interesting mix of folks in the crowd, from author Charlotte Gray and journalist Paul Wells to Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward Coun. Tobi Nussbaum to Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg and Jeff York, co-CEO of Farm Boy, which dominated business news last week after being bought out by the parent company of Sobeys grocery chain. As well, there was a large group from Quebec-based marijuana company HEXO Corporation.
Later, retired broadcast journalist Tom Clark, now with Global Public Affairs, auctioned off a stay at a home in Tuscany, Italy for $5,500.
Klotz credited Jayne Watson, CEO of the National Arts Centre Foundation, for helping to get her idea off the ground. Early supporters also included Ottawa businesswoman Jamilah Taib Murray and residential developer Sean McAdam. He’s the president of Landlab, which spearheaded the Hendrick Farm conservation community in Old Chelsea.
Organizers gave a big shout out to the participating chefs, all of whom responded immediately to the email call for volunteer help, the crowd heard. “There was zero hesitation,” said Clatney.
The featured chefs included: Katie Ardington (Beckta Group), Donna Chevrier (Ola Cocina), Chris Deraiche (Wellington Gastropub), Kris Kshonze (Soif Bar a Vin), David Godsoe and John Leung (Eighteen Hospitality Group), Kevin Mathieson (Art Is In Bakery), Jennifer Warren-Part and Charlie Part (Les Fougères), Jamie Stunt (Dish Catering) and Adam Vettorel (North and Navy). Dominion City Brewing Co. provided the beer while the wine came from D’Ont Poke the Bear.
Chefs set up their food stations beneath a giant party tent that was kept warm with patio heaters (temperatures were a tad on the cool and damp side that day). Organizers also had a large bonfire going and smaller fire pits, where children were seen roasting marshmallows.