Pictured on her farm in Margaree, Kim Tilsley can also be found at the Coady and Tompkins Memorial Library in Margaree where she is known for her community focused food programs.

MARGAREE: On January 19, the second Cape Breton Farmer to Farmer Retreat celebrated another season of growing and learning.

Experienced and aspiring farmers came together to share knowledge, build connections and enjoy a delicious local dinner.

The Island Food Network hosted this event with the support of the Department of Agriculture and the Federation of Agriculture to reach a broad range of producers across our region. This year’s retreat was hosted in Margaree.

“We are excited to be hosting the retreat in Margaree this year,” says local farmer and food champion, Kim Tilsley. “I like the idea of the retreat being held in a different part of the island each year. It gives us a chance to showcase and share the talents and treasures of various corners of our Island.”

This wasn’t meant to be like a conference. The day was spacious and the focus was on local knowledge and discussion. Topics were selected by participants. The purpose was to give farmers an opportunity to get to know each other and put their heads together to solve problems and identify opportunities.

“Last year’s event was a great chance to commiserate and celebrate with other farmers,” says Kim Tilsley.

Kim has since joined the Island Food Network Steering Committee and helped to coordinate this year’s Farmer to Farmer Retreat.

Margaree chefs Brooks Hart and Dawn Coady prepared a three-course meal for farmers using Cape Breton grown ingredients. The meal was a celebration of local food and a special treat for farmers who provided ingredients.

“It is always such a compliment to see chefs enjoy working with the produce I grow, and such a joy to eat what they create with these ingredients. This is such a great benefit of being part of a small regional food system,” says farmer and Island Food Network Coordinator, Jody Nelson.

The Island Food Network is an umbrella for collaborative food action. The IFN supports food initiatives, cultivates food knowledge, connects food leaders and advocates for food system change. The IFN envisions a healthful, inclusive, just, and resilient food system that serves as a lever for transformation and growth. For more information, check out their Web site: islandfoodnetwork.ca.