The Five by Five Dinner Fundraiser for LifeCycles

photo: guests enjoy a Sea Cider cocktail and good conversation on the front porch at Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse

credit: Rebecca Baugniet

On the eve of Sea Cider Farm’s third anniversary celebrations, the popular ciderhouse hosted a fundraiser for one of their partners; LifeCycles. With noble goals that include picking and redistributing thirty thousand pounds of fruit every year to build community partnerships and feed hundreds of families, creating organic food gardens on all school grounds in the Greater Victoria region and establishing community gardens in neighbourhoods where there is need, there is no wonder that the community came together in such an impressive way to show its support.

With the weather cooperating spectacularly, and the ciderhouse sharing its panoramic views of their organic orchard and the Haro Strait, the scene was set for a beautiful evening. Chef Steve Duncan from Ambrosia Conference and Events Centre designed a mouthwatering menu with each of the five courses centering around the region that supplied fresh ingredients. The regional inspiration for the first course came from Sooke, with side stripe shrimp and wild Pacific salmon donated from Iron Maiden Seafoods. LifeCycles has been providing the apples for Sea Cider’s Kings and Spies cider, with proceeds from the sale of the gently effervescent, floral cider returning to the organization. This served as the cider pairing for the refreshing gazpacho. The next course featured Vantreight Farms produce – a crisp salad made of buttercrunch lettuce with mizuna, French breakfast radish and pickled bull’s blood beets. I had the chance to chat with Ryan Vantreight, a fifth generation farmer on Vantreight Farms, and he explained how the family is shifting focus from daffodils to produce and is in transition to becoming certified organic.


The main course of the evening hailed from Metchosin, with Tom Henry’s succulent Berkshire pork from Sea Bluff Farm complimented by a Sea Cider apple chutney and paired with Sea Cider’s Rumrunner Cider – named for the aging process it undergoes in rum-soaked bourbon barrels. Next came the cheese plate from Parksville, with a beautiful selection from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks . Just when we thought we couldn’t take another bite, out came a tempting mint syllabub with candied lovage shortbread and a rhubarb coulis, featuring rhubarb from Bhumi Farm, donated by Share Organics and matched effortlessly with Sea Cider’s Pomona Cider, a still desert cider made from frozen crab apples.

Each course was introduced by the evening’s MC, Khalil Akhtar, whose passion for food is sure to come across in this summer’s CBC food dedicated program, ‘The Main Ingredient’  (click here for more details). Khalil also announced winners of the evening’s silent auction who got to take home baskets stuffed with goodies from Plenty, Phillips Brewery, Fol Epi, Choux Choux Charcuterie and more.  The event was flawlessly organized by LifeCycles member Rebecka Webb and overseen by Sea Cider event designer Christine Smart, who managed to weave this massive collaborative spirit into a cohesive, finely-tuned ode to local food. On the LifeCycles information pamphlet, you can find a quotation from one of their Fruit Tree Project volunteers that aptly sums up both the work that LifeCycles accomplishes, as well as what the fundraiser achieved: “ There is something truly magical about how food can bring people together. [It]’s not just about food – it’s about using food as a way to empower people, to strengthen our communities and to nourish our bodies and spirits.” And we can be confident that LifeCycles, with good friends all over the community, will keep on getting this important work done.

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