The Blackberry Bake-Off has some new fans.
Drew Storey is a 17-year-old student at Langley Fine Arts School and though he lives a short distance from the Derek Doubleday Arboretum where the celebration of all things blackberry takes place, it was a new experience for him.
“This is my first time,” he said.
In fact it was his first time checking out the arboretum and its many attractions. He was one of those attractions, hired to perform live music during the Thursday afternoon family-oriented event.
“I got the gig through InstaGram,” Storey explained.
The bake-off was also a new event for the Gallagher family. Aly brought her two children to experience the event.
Aldergrove’s Vienna Gallagher, six, was an instant fan as soon as the food sampling started.
The public was allowed to sample up to four of the approximately 19 blackberry dishes submitted by the community. There were sweet dishes as well as savoury ones and even some drinks made with the berries.
People could then vote on their favourites while a panel of three judges sampled each item and selected winners in various categories. The judges this year were Diana Munday, a community herbalist and member of the Langley Field Naturalists, Lilianne Fuller, also with the naturalists, and Township Climate Action Team member Meghan Woods.
Public voting was tallied and factored into the judges’ scores which were based onoriginality, inclusion of blackberries, taste and presentation.
1st place - Sandra Reams, blackberry iced tea
2nd place - Heather Diewert, sweetgrass blackberry coffeecake with lemon basil compote
3rd place - Natalie Walsh, blackberry lemon-lime scones
Kids’ entry - Madeleine Mowat, blackberry tea sandwiches
“We estimated that 125 people attended the event,” said Alexandra Falconer, garden programs coordinator with the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS).
People could also tour the arboretum to see learn about blackberries, the community garden, the composting and other LEPS initiatives at the site, and more. It’s where LEPS holds many of its educational workshops throughout the year.
The bake-off, not held for the past two years due to COVID, returned to the popular in-person format with kids crafts, sampling, a barbecue, live entertainment, community group displays, and lessons on blackberries. It was a hot sunny day and this year organizers brought in a misting tent as well.
LEPS hosts the event, using the tasty berry to raise awareness about Himalayan blackberries being an invasive plant that crowds out native plants. People are encouraged to enjoy the berry but work to eradicate the plant which has taken over a great deal of land since it was brought over by European settlers.
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