On August 18th, the Boyle Street community and visitors to the Downtown Farmers Market market were treated to a truly marvellous long table feast that served 1,000 people. Jointly organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association, the Boyle Street Community League, and the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market, this event featured heaped-up plates of food efficiently and quickly served, and tables and chairs complete with table coverings and many vases of lilies. Large numbers of volunteers (mainly young people) kept everything running smoothly. And the weather even cooperated – no small thing in this summer of endless rain.
The tables were set up along 96 Street and 103 Avenue. Chinese community organizations donated six roast pigs, 40 lbs. of BBQ pork, 40 lbs. of sausages, and 35 chickens. A Chinese food supply company donated 1,000 spring rolls and 200 onion cakes. Chinese restaurants donated eight large trays of fried rice and noodles and two trays of steamed rice. Bakeries donated a total of 900 Chinese buns of different varieties. All of the food was supplied by licensed establishments.
The event kept 100 volunteers busy, and more walk-in volunteers provided much-needed last minute help.
The Boyle Street Community League had a table set up nearby, where they sold many memberships and handed out many Boyle Street walking maps. “The Long Table Feast was a success by every measure,” says Joelle Reiniger, Boyle Street Community League board member. “It brought together a diverse group of area residents for local food and conversation, and it significantly boosted community league membership.”
The Downtown Farmers Market made an effort to reach out to families in Boyle Street by sending invitations home with children who attend St. Teresa of Calcutta School.
MLA Janis Irwin attended. She posted this slogan (source unknown) on her Facebook page: “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher wall.”
The long table feast, part of Alberta Local Food Week activities, received financial support from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.