Jennifer Schell is a farmer’s daughter, so she’s always known the value of Okanagan agriculture.
So it was only natural for her to spend much of her career getting everyone else caught up.
“The people you meet in the food and wine industry in the Okanagan are amazing and passionate, and what they do inspires me in life,” Schell said.
That inspiration has seemingly created boundless amounts of energy.
On any given day she may be promoting a local foodie event, writing her Wine Trail’s column, coming up with course material for Okanagan College’s culinary program or, as has been the case for the last couple of years, writing cookbooks that are both well loved in the community and award-winning in the literary world.
The latter, however, is where she really shines.
She followed that effort up with a “by the sea” version that came out last year and focuses on coastal food producers.
In recent months she updated The Butcher, the Baker, the Wine & Cheese Maker in the Okanagan.
“Since 2012 the awareness around agriculture and food has really grown,” she said.
“When I sat down to update the cookbook I felt so inspired by all the changes I’ve seen.
“I am part of the community and these people are my friends, so I hit the ground running.”
One of the biggest revelations for her was the new ways farming is being completed.
“We have a new generation of farmers who are finding ways to farm by leasing and borrowing small lots of land,” she said.
These farmers are squeaking in wherever they can, growing what they can.
As she embarked on this latest cookbook, she also saw a new generation of people interested in homesteading. That, she said, was pretty amazing.
These young farmers aren’t motivated by wealth or accolades. They’ve merely prioritized food security and the lifestyle that goes with food production.
That lifestyle, she said, is priceless.
“Growing up, my cousins and I lived on the farm and we always had people just stopping by,” she said.
“My oma and opa would invite them in and they would stop and , have coffee or wine. “
That’s what it’s like with these young farmers.
A glimpse into that world can be found in Schell’s cookbooks.
Dozens of recipes match locally produced foods with local chef’s imaginations—and there’s a wine pairing, to boot.
Schell’s write-ups and photographs also go a long way in telling the Okanagan’s farm to plate story.
“I get so excited when I flip through the book,” she said.