Nature Trust fundraiser draws top B.C. chefs and wines

It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s for a worthy cause, and guests will be wined and dined by some of the province’s top chefs and wineries.

It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s for a worthy cause, and guests will be wined and dined by some of the province’s top chefs and wineries.

This year, the Nature Trust of B.C. aims to raise more than $100,000 towards the $3 million purchase price of a 2,000-hectare grassland and wetland at its annual Okanagan Valley fund-raiser at the Delta Grand, called Earth Wind Fire 2011.

The event is Saturday, June 18, and will feature food prepared by some of the best chefs in B.C., along with award-winning wines from around the Okanagan.

Top entertainers, such as Bobby Bruce with his Neil Diamond tribute and Anna Jacyszyn’s jazz, will be on hand, along with MCs Andy and TJ.

The Nature Trust is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, notes Deborah Kennedy, development and communications officer, so she is really hopeful they can mark it with acquisition of this biodiversity ranch in the Twin Lakes area, just west of Penticton.

Nature Trust has an agreement to purchase with the owner and has applied for half the funding from a federal fund.

It already owns large biodiversity ranches in the Okanagan Falls and White Lake areas.

“I’ve never seen our scientists so excited about a property we’ve considered,” said Kennedy.

It includes not only grasslands, but also wetlands and riparian areas, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and trembling aspen forests, as well as lakes and rugged terrain, so it’s very diverse.

Locally, the Nature Trust has played a role in conserving Rose Valley Pond, adjacent to Rose Valley elementary in West Kelowna, which became the trailhead for a 250-hectare regional park by the same name.

It is also in discussions about other potential Central Okanagan properties.

Funds raised at the annual Okanagan Valley fund-raiser stay in the valley to be used toward local projects, and Earth Wind Fire is a collaboration of many in the community.

Kennedy noted it’s great to work with the Delta and executive chef Stuart Klassen, but the chefs and wineries of the valley also chip in, along with all kinds of other businesses.

She notes this event is probably more difficult than any other she does, but everyone chips in to help out with such passion that it becomes a fun event to organize.

“The chefs and wineries just love the crowd. Everyone’s really happy,” she explained.

“There’s a lot of love goes into this event.”

Her husband, Tom Kennedy, grew up in Kelowna and volunteers annually to line up 1,000 bottles of wine to create the ‘Great Wall of Wine,’ which is auctioned off during the evening.

He’s hopeful he can raise $100,000 on that alone, but there are other big-ticket items as well, including a helicopter ride to a Nature Trust property with a picnic there, for six; a fishing trip up the West Coast to North King Lodge; a tower of scotch; dinner for six at Gotham’s with accommodation in Vancouver; a two-night luxury stay at the Ritz-Carleton in Toronto and dinner at Toca; and nature-themed jewelry as well as unique home made crafts.

Members of the Canadian Culinary Junior Team, Culinary Team B.C., as well as local top chefs Stuart Klassen of the Delta, Willi Franz of the Grapevine at Gray Monk, Mark Filatow of Waterfront Restaurant, Geoffrey Couper, president of the Okanagan Chefs’ Association, Bernard Casavant of the Wild Apple at Manteo and Rod Butters from RauDZ Regional Table will create the food served at stations around the room.

Wines will be poured by winemakers from Aces Okanagan, Ancient Hill, Calona Vineyards, Desert Hills, Ex Nihilo, Gray Mond, Hester Creek, Hillside, Howling Bluff, Intrigue, Painted Rock, Peller Estates, Road 13, Sandhill, Silver Sage, Summerhill, Tantalus and Tinhorn Creek.

Tickets are available at 1-866-288-7878, ext. 226 or go to


Kelowna Capital News