Onanole Cultural Hotbed of Things To Do Dec. 6 – 8, 2013

Onanole, Manitoba is the southern gateway to Riding Mountain National Park. It is becoming a cultural hotbed of artisans, restaurateurs, and innovative entrepreneurs who are creating new visitor experiences and services in four seasons. The national park ski trails are tracked and snowshoeing is already outstanding throughout the park. This weekend promises a lot of cool culture – A Christmas Show & Sale at Orion Studio  at 216 Orion Drive (please see poster attached for hours) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday also features the annual Crawford Park Craft Sale just west of Onanole. Saturday, Dec. 7 is the annual Harvest Sun fund-raising Dinner & Concert, which will take place at the Onanole Community Centre. Advance tickets are required. Greg MacPherson & Leanne Zacharias will be performing. Harvest Sun Catering will be provide a “locally sourced” dinner. Finally, all of these activities will be anchored by some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Manitoba. Snow conditions are fantastic – with over 15cm of fresh snow in the Wasagaming area, and 20+cm at Moon Lake. Trails are packed and many track set. This is a snowshoeing paradise!

Harvest Sun annual dinner and concert

Annual fund raising dinner and concert for Harvest Sun Festival

Orion Studio annual Christmas Show & Sale, Onanole, Manitoba

Orion Studios annual show and sale featuring Sue Davar Pottery and fellow artist


New deli eatery in Onanole

We’ve got a new eatery in Onanole this summer.  Sisters Quinn and Jasmin Greavett have launched an alternative to the often poor quality, fast food chains that typically accompany tourism travel routes and destinations.  As many writers and investigative journalists are uncovering, our “Fast Food Nation” does not often provide the most nutritious foods, and many of them have high food miles associated with them (imported from other countries with a high carbon emission associated with the distance they travel to get to our province).  If you are interested, you can learn more about FOOD MILES and calculate food miles for individual food items.

Quinn describes their approach, “.. .When creating our menu, we really wanted to have something that was a bit different that people would be interested in trying, and that would taste great.  We wanted to branch away from the typical burger and create a menu where each burger had a distinctive flavour.  All our burgers, sandwiches, and deli salads are home-made and we use only fresh ingredients, which we try to purchase locally.”

This is great.  The tourism industry needs more of this type of food service and entrepreneurial approaches.  It supports local producers, is better quality and nutrition, and offers alternatives to the fast food formulas and supply chains that often accompany many restaurants and chains.  We wish them well.   “…Our deli salads are family favorites and some we have created.  We basically got the menu ideas from things that Jasmin and I like, and we also did a few trial and error taste tests on people and adjusted our menu based on their feedback.  But, so far, so good!”

The following is their current menu (obviously, subject to change, as they learn and get feedback from customers).  We hope that you will try out the new Deli in Onanole this summer.


Mexi burger – a spicy beef burger served with guacamole, refried beans, salsa and cheese

Greek burger – beef patty served with feta cheese, tatziki sauce, fresh cucumber, red onion,lettuce and tomato

Canadian burger – a beef patty mixed with a sweet maple bbq sauce topped with cheddar cheese, smokey maple bacon, and fried onions

Classic burger – our most traditional beef patty lightly seasoned

Chicken burger – an all white meat chicken breast served with mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion

Veggie burger – a vegetable patty made with fresh cick peas, cous cous, spinach, cilantro and spices.

Thai Tuna burger – tuna mixed with ginger, soya, flax seeds, and carrots served with a home made teriyaki sauce

Clear Lake Golf Course offers new cuisine in 2009

I have had the opportunity to experience the cuisine of Executive Chef Ilse Mohn and Sous-Chef Chad Robinson on more than one occasion this year. As well, a number of other local people have been experiencing their flavors this summer. The verdict: very good quality, great service, new!

Bison carpaccio appetizer with Manitoba Bothwell cheese

Bison carpaccio appetizer with Manitoba Bothwell cheese

One group that we had here last week had requested a unique lunch menu as part of a customized GPS adventure quest that we created for their sales team.

I worked with the team at the Clear Lake Golf Course (Riding Mountain National Park) to create an imaginative and never-before delivered combination of flavours, textures and presentation that left our group not just satisfied, but clearly surprised and delighted.

I love this aspect of experiential tourism – crafting one of a kind experiences that under-promise mystery and intrigue, while over-delivering surprises, moments of delight, and in the words of one member of our group, “I’ve been here before several times, but never had this…It was great.”

Great cuisine is something that people will travel for long distances, to experience.  In particular, we featured local bison, Manitoba cheese, local herbs, local baking, local recipes, and local berries in the saskatoon tarts (that we made under the watchful guidance of Ilse herself).  Congratulations to Ilse and Chad and the entire team at the Clear Lake Golf Course restaurant.  Keep it up!

American Academy of Environmental Medicine calls for immediate GMO moratorium

Well, it is not a surprise to learn of the recent (May 19, 2009) press advisory released by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, from Wichita, Kansas calling for an immediate moratorium on GM foods.   “Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health,” said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM.  Their media release specifically refers to their position paper which has a very strong declaration that requests the following.

With the precautionary principle in mind, because GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks:

With the precautionary principle in mind, because GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks:

  • Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.

  • Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease processes of the patients they treat and to document any changes in patient health when changing from GM food to non-GM food.

  • Our members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health.

  • For a moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term independent safety testing, and labeling of GM foods, which is necessary for the health and safety of consumers.
The correlations in animal studies with various serious diseases indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.

Read the press advisory and the AAEM Position Paper about why they are calling for an immediate moratorium on GMO foods.  Please distribute this information widely.

Making bread, biodiversity and spring bird songs

I am baking some fresh bread today.  A new recipe, using organic whole wheat flours from Prairie Seasons Bakery, a delightful café and bakery in Neepawa, Manitoba. In a recent search for the town to host Manitoba’s Homecoming in 2010, Neepawa received 14,000 votes, and has been awarded the grand prize of hosting Manitoba’s official 140th birthday on May 12, 2010.  Neepawa is on the road to Riding Mountain National Park. I highly recommend stopping at Prairie Seasons Bakery right on main street for a very nutritious sandwich featuring breads made with organic, local grains and local produce.  The coffee is great too.  Oh, so are the amazing baked goods.  Stock up on your way to Wasagaming Campground.

As I made my bread today, the mourning doves, clay coloured sparrows, chipping sparrows, robins, rose breasted grosbeaks and house wrens were all nattering or singing loudly.  We live not more than .5 km from the boundary of Riding Mountain National Park, a place of great biodiversity in the southern part of Manitoba, Canada.  

As I sat, drinking my coffee and waiting for the yeast to develop in the bowl, I was reading from David Suzuki’s new book The Big Picture – reflections on science, humanity, and a quickly changing planet.  I met David briefly last week in Nashville where he gave, to a standing ovation, one of the most inspiring morning talks as he introduced Al Gore to more than 500 of us from Canada and the US , who are officially trained as Climate Project presenters, participating in the Climate Change Summit.

In his chapter on “Getting to Know the Joneses” (about biodiversity, and knowing our neighbours in nature), Suzuki identified that 1,200 bird species worldwide are currently facing extinction (2004 study from Birdlife International), with some 200 on the critical list.  Why?  Largely because humans are affecting their habitats.  “Converting prairie grassland to farmland, for example, has resulted in a 60% decline in native prairie bird species”. 

Why does the protection and enhancement of bio-diversity matter?  Because on a large scale, the diversity of life on Earth underpins many of the ecosystem services that we need to survive (producing oxygen, cleansing our water systems, cleansing our air, storing carbon that prevents global warming).  Faced with a growing population of some 6.7 billion people, there has been an explosive rise in demand for energy, land, resources, and the planet’s bio-diversity is declining.  “A diversity of life has proven to be a key element of evolution and the resiliency of life on Earth over long periods of time, even through periods of great change.”

We are at an unprecedented time in the history of the Earth.  Humans are altering the earth at the same or greater levels of magnitude as geologic change – except that we are doing it in flash or a wink in geologic time, not over eons.  And, it’s impacts are being seen all over.  

I want to save the Earth.  I know that I cannot do that.  But, I want to.  And, my frustration as I kneaded out the dough that became my bread and listened to spring symphonies that reflect the presence of such biodiversity of life on Earth, was that we have a lack of leadership and action within our country right now, to address our climate change challenges.  

Our adventure company Earth Rhythms is dedicated to helping travelers experience this bio-diversity. We contribute to the Nature Conservancy which saves habitat; we live in an R-2000 home that we designed and constructed and was designed by us to have a low ecological footprint, and minimal impact on the land.  We are helping to create programming for our fall festival Sonics and Sojourns, which will celebrate bio-diversity, educate youth and adults about our emerging low carbon economy, and provide opportunities for anyone to experience nature in the fall.  I am doing a very small part to move my life towards saving the Earth.

I want to see our Canadian federal politicians making a positive contribution to the Copenhagen Climate Treaty in December by setting an aggressive target for reducing CO2 in Canada.  The US has taken a mighty step forward by creating a new climate bill (Waxman-Markey bill) that has set an ambitious and achievable 83% reduction in CO2 over 1990 levels by 2050.  

Come on Canada – let’s start putting the heat on our Canadian politicians to get with it, to create a policy environment that restores our global  leadership that we have now lost; that reflects a realization that our long-term economic health is directly linked to our long-term ecological health.  Let’s get down to making new bread, featuring prairie grains that reflect a commitment to restoration of prairie diversity, where the presence of spring bird songs will continue to mean that we have saved the Earth, together.

Harvest Sun Café spring hours and April 25th Songwriter

Nadia and Tara, from the Harvest Sun just forwarded the following information about the Harvest Sun Café hours (Kelwood, Manitoba), meals, and a singer-songwriter for April 25th.  Contact them at Harvest Sun.  If you are travelling to Clear Lake, Riding Mountain National Park or Dauphin during the summer months, try out this wonderful establishment on Highway #5, just north of Neepawa, that prides itself on supporting local producers, and producing good “local food” menus.  Or if you are camping at the national park, or taking one of Earth Rhythms’ wonderful cultural adventures, then you might want to take a slow drive to Kelwood along Highway #19 looking for wildlife in the evening.

Hello all!

The cafe is reopening on April 5th for our first Sunday Brunch & Sunday.  

Supper buffet from 10am-7pm…this season we are going to be open every Sunday..

Our spring hours of operation are 8am-4pm Tuesday thru Saturday,and 10am -7pm on Sundays. 

We will open full time on June 2nd. Our Dinner & a Concert this month falls on April 25th w/ singer songwriter Del Berber.

Hope to see you soon,

Nadia & Tara

Good Food – Riding Mountain area

The following are two places I highly recommend for quality local food. You’ll love the hosts, the food, and you’ll get insight into local stories, views, and news.

Harvest Sun Café – Get Directions

The Harvest Sun Cafe – is a small cozy cafe nestled at the heart of the small community of Kelwood which is situated right next to the east gate of the Riding Mountain National Park. We offer cuisine that is made from organic, and more importantly local produce.  Our cafe offers a unique rural experience for visitors, which includes local tastes, flavours and the opportunity to connect with a sma Manitoban community.  

Kelwood, Manitoba Email:  harvestsuncafe@gmail.com


The Harvest Sun Music Fest – is a music festival with a fantastic family atmosphere that is dedicated to the support of local agriculture and community building. The fest offers an incredible line-up of musical acts, and as we are partnered with the local ag fair, there is the opportunity to have a hands on experience with an Agricultural Fair that has been running for over 100 years.  


Prairie Seasons Café & Bakery
Onanole, Manitoba
Look for the big elk statue as you come into Onanole.
Organic baking, fresh and local foods.

ACC students stars in international wine festival

My wife and I had the pleasure of taking part in an evening of tasting of international wines of distinction and food pairings created by the students of the Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts at the campus of Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba.

In one word – WOW!  The students researched the wines and food pairings in teams.  Over 200 people attended.  The event was classy.  It’s a real testament to the teaching staff, the vision of the administration, and the creative talent of these students to stage an event like this. 

From innovative dressings, to a delightful Manitoba story about Banville & Jones Wine Co. (wine distributor and retailer in Winnipeg), to the many different tastes of lamb, oysters, prairie beef, desserts, and other taste sensations, this was an evening of shared passion, discovery and learning.  When food and wine, students and appreciative learners come together like this in the renovated historic setting of the Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts, we all celebrate “The Canadian Experience in Manitoba”.  Great job!

All for one – one for all

Students at Assiniboine Community College create lunch together

Students at Assiniboine Community College create lunch together


I had the privilege of co-creating and delivering a workshop yesterday at the Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts (MICA) on the campus of Assiniboine Community College (ACC) in Brandon, Manitoba.  In collaboration with faculty members Matt Otten and Joanne Canada-Somers and Kyle Zalluski, we provided about 50 students with opportunities to learn about climate change, and discuss the implications of what was learned in terms of their own lives and professions.  

We then engaged the students in crafting an interactive lunch experience making two soups, fresh and warm tea biscuits, a salad with freshly-made dressing, angel food cake with fresh strawberries, and WOW, was it good!  As much as possible, local foods from within a 100 mile radius were used.  During the morning and lunch experience, we began the process of engaging students to tell their own story of what they are learning, and why tourism marketing today is so dependent on Internet technology. Using a new WordPress Blog,  four students took photographs and wrote two articles that captured some of their learning, impressions, and their quotes.  Well done!

This new blog served as a useful tool to discuss the implications of Web2.0 in tourism.   We discussed how chefs in other places in the world are using blogs,  and how different websites can convey the essence of the “culinary experience” by using effective photographs, videos, or well-written blogs.   The afternoon discussion with our panel of student photographers and writers as well as the rest of the students and teachers reviewing the uploaded blog content was instructive and tangible – it was immediate feedback to everyone.

I provided a concluding presentation about experiential tourism including a few examples of the kinds of tourism experiences that Earth Rhythms is crafting.  A facilitated student sharing circle at the end was powerful with insights about the impact of the day.

This is a very important audience.  Students graduating from tourism and culinary schools today will be our leaders in restaurants and tourism enterprises in the future.  They will be creating food experiences for travelers to Manitoba over the next generation.  Being aware of the carbon footprint of food as part of the travel experience is one step towards developing food and tourism experiences that demonstrate sustainability.  We look forward to finding ways to partner in business, with the students and faculty of MICA, to create new Manitoba cuisine.  What a great introduction!  Thank you.