Malcolm Jolley talks to Ontario garlic farmer and enthusiast Peter McClusky before the 2016 Toronto Garlic Festival.
On Sunday, September 18, at the Wychwood Barns, Peter McClusky will open the doors of the sixth annual Toronto Garlic Festival. For a $5 admission fee (kids get in free), supporters of local agriculture (and delicious things) will have the opportunity to be fed and entertained by chefs and farmers who share McClusky’s love of Ontario hard-neck garlic.
McClusky had a high flying career in digital marketing before giving it up to plant 1,000 cloves of garlic near Acton in 2009. By 2013 he had 25,000 plants and he hasn’t looked back. Last year he wrote and published a book, Ontario Garlic: The Story from Farm to Festival. And, of course, he organizes the Toronto Garlic Festival as the main way he and his fellow Ontario producers promote their product.
McClusky will explain that local garlic is the good kind: hard-neck, the kind that produces scapes earlier in the season. What consumers often find in supermarkets is Chinese imported soft-neck, a less flavourful variety, good for shipping and storing, but not much else. By matching 20 chefs with 20 farmers at the festival, McClusky hopes to show how versatile the product can be. He told GFR that the chefs have come up with interesting recipes and will use Ontario garlic in “interesting ways, but not gimicky ways.” There is also a garlic breath contest (measured, he says, by gas spectrometer), virtual reality tours of garlic farms, and many other activities, as well as craft beer and wine.
Doors open at 9AM. Visit torontogarlicfestival.ca for more information.