From afar, the scene didn't look too impressive, Wednesday morning. On a cold and rainy morning underneath a steel gazebo, a bunch of people in rain boots and umbrellas bustled between open trunked cars and trucks.
But upon closer inspection, it became clear that this wasn't just any gathering at the EverGreen Brick Works.
This was the prelude to the major culinary celebration, Soupstock, this Sunday, October 21 at Woodbine Park in the Beaches. The fest is dishing out protest soup and features a long list of performers like Jim Cuddy, The Paint Movement, Snowblink, and Jesse Cook, plus MC's George Strombolopolous and Jeremy Taggart - all in support of the movement to defeat the Melancthon Township megaquarry, two hours from T.O. in the north section of Dufferin County.
Posters for Soupstock call on supporters to Save the Land that Feeds Us.
All the activity Wednesday morning was the haste of chefs picking up the more than 11,700 pounds of turnips, onions, carrots, and leeks, fruits and meat and bones, donated by farmers and producers.
The produce will be used by the 120 expert cooks, like Susar Lee, Jamie Kennedy, Darren Glew, Dustin Gallagher and more, who will concoct various soup creations at $10 for three servings (bring your own bowls and spoons), a sequel to last year's widely popular Foodstock which attracted 28,000 people.
"I got the inspiration from last year, when the weather was cold and rainy. I figured it was the perfect season for soup; it's comforting, warming, and can showcase the vast culinary diversity we have in Toronto," says Micheal Stadtlander, founder of the Canadian Chefs' Congress, co-sponsors of the event.
According to Blaine Van Bruggen, who is handling communications for the David Suzuki Foundation, the other event sponsor, the mega-quarry just north of Shelburne in the heart of potato country would permanently destroy more than 2300 acres of landscape of great agricultural, ecological, and cultural importance.
"The quarry would dig under the water table and aquifers, which would disrupt the natural water flow and cause contamination," Bruggen says, adding to the vast chorus of enviros who fear the pollution of headwaters at the highest point of elevation in southern Ontario.
Last fall, the Liberals ordered the province's first Environmental Assessment of the quarry application, made by The Highland Companies. The reason for events like Soupstock, Bruggen says, is to build support - profits from the event will go to efforts to stop the project.
Fawzi Kotb, executive chef at Veloute Bistro and Catering who was at the Brick Works loading boxes of ingredients for his potato soup, says, "We got involved because we wanted to bring the issue to peoples' attention. A lot of our customers in The Beaches have no idea what's going on up north," he says.
Says Jennifer Pfenning, co-owner of Pfennings Organic Farm, near Kitchener, which donated a load of veggies: "the Mega-Quarry issue affects all of us and the best case scenario is disastrous. Soupstock is a peaceful, powerful way to express the will of the people."