A ‘tell us your story’ feature from the Canadian Prairies.
From small-scale farmers and city gardeners, to beekeepers and chocolatiers, to ranchers and winemakers, Saskatoon-based writer and agriculture consultant Jenn Sharp is passionate about championing local food producers.
We recently caught up with Jenn as part of our ‘tell us your story' initiative. Celebrating local produce and the people who make it, her book, Flat Out Delicious: Your Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans - and her story - is a feast of inspiration and information for travellers and foodies alike. What’s more, she’s seen the demand for local food producers soar during the pandemic. Over to Jenn.
I'm a journalist, author and agriculture consultant based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - the soulful prairies! I strive to tell stories that help us reconnect to our food, our farmers and our land, while also embracing what it means to be human. I love a good adventure. I've studied in Bangkok, searched for hidden temples in rural Cambodia, canoed the waterways in Honduras’s remote La Mosquitia jungle, meditated on the banks of the Ganges and trained horses in a small village in Spain. While I thrive on discovering new cultures and ways of thinking, exploring the world always brings renewed passion for how good life is in Saskatchewan.
From the province’s southern grain fields to its northern boreal forests, from its city markets to its small-town diners, Saskatchewan is the humble heartland of some of the nation’s most delicious food. It’s a land full of wide-open spaces and plenty of room for outdoor explorations. We have rolling, virgin prairie grasslands in the south, along with the stunningly beautiful Cypress Hills, and pristine lakes and rivers amongst the boreal forest in the north. Camping, canoeing, hiking, fishing, horseback riding and cycling are all popular pastimes here.
In summer and fall 2020, more of us than ever before (myself included) got out of the cities to discover all that our beautiful province has to offer. Saskatchewan is also bursting with incredible food artisans, like small-scale regenerative farmers growing ancient heritage grains that local bakers buy for their sourdough bread. Our main cities have excellent independent restaurants run by chefs devoted to seasonal, delicious food, while rural, hidden gems are scattered throughout the province, making a foodie road trip easy to execute!
My first book, Flat Out Delicious: Your Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans, was published in 2020. It's a robust and inspiring travel companion for both local and visiting food-lovers alike that reveals the stories, inspiration, and friendly faces of the people who craft great food in Saskatchewan. It gives people all the info they need - to hit the road in search of their new favourite restaurant or to find places to buy local food from farmers.
I had an in-person event series (think farm tour days and long table dinners) planned for the spring and summer to launch my book. That all shifted online to a book launch event and web series where food artisans from across Saskatchewan shared the stories behind the food they produce. The pandemic has been challenging for many, and it has also revealed how food insecure we are on the prairies if we rely solely on imported goods. We produce almost everything we need if we can get away from eating exotic fruit in the middle of winter! Many with farm gate stores, selling direct to consumers, saw their sales double or triple these last six months and I'm grateful for that.
The pandemic's biggest silver lining is that it has taught us how to slow down and examine what's important in our lives, for our health and for our regional economies. Supporting a local food system checks off all the boxes!
Take a look at Jenn’s social media channels to stay up to date with foodie news from Saskatchewan.
And to discover more about her spectacular homeland, check-outThe Rough Guide to Canada.
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Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her