SISTERS VANESSA ODDY, MARIAH VERMEER AND DANIELLE MILLER HOST A FARM-TO-TABLE CHARITY DINNER THAT CELEBRATES COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL FOOD.
This past August, close to 200 guests descended upon The Orchard at the Chilliwack Corn Maze & Pumpkin Farm for Cultivate. Heading into its second year, the sold-out farm-to-table charity dinner was started as a celebration to bring communities together over local food. After spending ten years living apart in different countries, sisters Danielle Miller, Vanessa Oddy and Mariah Vermeer knew that they wanted to collaborate and create something meaningful for their hometown of Chilliwack.
“When we moved back, we realized how many great companies and small businesses there were in the Fraser Valley,” Mariah shares, “we wanted to showcase these local businesses and coming together over a meal seemed natural.” The Orchard, the family farm was the obvious location for Cultivate, the sisters grew up running up and down the rows there.
Guests were greeted to a welcome juice cocktail and were seated at whimsically decorated long tables, the perfect set-up to converse with old friends and meet new ones. The extravagant menu prepared by Restaurant 62 and Faspa & Co. featured local ingredients sourced from farm partners. “The chefs were able to enhance the food,” Vanessa adds, “but it remained true to its original beauty and flavour, a carrot still looked like a carrot, raw and beautiful.” After dinner, guests sipped pour-over coffees from Jack Coffee Bar and nibbled on gluten-free, vegan treats from The Polly Fox Bakery. The night’s proceeds went to Chilliwack’s Bowls of Hope Society, a program that provides soup and hot lunch items to 18 schools within the Chilliwack School District.
After hosting the soiree, which took a year of planning, the sisters didn’t get much chance to rest. Vanessa delivered a baby boy just four days after the event. While Danielle and Mariah launched their new company Habit Project, a cold-pressed juice and nut mylk business. The first bottles hit the shelves of Field House Brewery Co. in Abbotsford the day after Labour Day. “It was so exciting to see it on the shelves,” Danielle tells us. “All the vegetables are organically sourced,” Mariah, who’s also a nutritionist adds, “we have four different juice recipes, three almond mylks and two hydrators. Each juice has two pounds of vegetables per bottle, no water is added.”
“While living abroad, we were trying to find healthy habits to incorporate into our lives,” Mariah continues, “we started juicing and noticed a real benefit in our lifestyle.” Although juices were popular in Vancouver already, the sisters quickly realized they couldn’t buy them anywhere in the Fraser Valley, with cold-pressed juices having a shelf life of just four days. “We started talking about juices years ago, our husbands really pushed us, they were tired of us just talking about it,” Mariah laughs.
The sisters see the Habit Project as much more than a juice company. “We want to empower people to create good habits,” Danielle shares, “40% of our daily life are made of habits, incorporate these good ones and you can improve your life.”
The juices are now available in Chilliwack at The Local Harvest Market and in Abbotsford at Field House Brewing Co., orders can also be made online. The Chilliwack Corn Maze & Pumpkin Farm established 1999 is also open for the season.
Photo Credit: Tanya Goehring, Post Photography