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Foodie Friday: Free summer picnics with Harvest Noir

By Courtney Merchand on July 11, 2014

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the farmers are hauling crates of their newly harvested produce to outdoor markets across the city. For Harvest Noir, that can only mean one thing – BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket) because it’s time to picnic.

A two-part free summer picnic will take place on July 12 and August 23, giving Ottawans the perfect excuse to get out of the house and explore some of the finer open-air venues this city has to offer. Picnickers of all ages will be scouring the Main Farmers Market next to Saint Paul University for the coziest plot of grass to drop their baskets before picking up an extra ingredient – or six – and digging in.

“We were inspired by the mass pop-up picnics in Paris,” said Harvest Noir co-organizer Greg Searle, addressing the need for more spontaneous events that showcase the city’s urban assets. “Ottawa doesn’t have much of a tradition like that.” But that hasn’t stopped the group from trying to turn it around.

The free summer picnic may seem a little unlike Harvest Noir’s penchant for over the top, attention-grabbing flash mobs and pop-ups. For its first year, the series will take a milder approach to attract picnickers in what Searle calls “a smart mob, an organized event that people know about ahead of time.”

“It’s going to be very casual, very low-key” said Searle, comparing it their more formal annual event. “It’ll be a fantastic opportunity to get out with other hip Ottawa folks.”

If all this talk of picnics has your heart racing in excitement, then you won’t want to miss Harvest Noir’s end-of-summer blowout ball on September 27. Keeping the mystery alive, the secret location will only be revealed a few hours before the event takes place. Voted one of Ottawa’s sexiest parties, you can expect to indulge in an extravagant picnic where all locally harvested and prepared foods are welcome before working all those calories off on one of the three DJ dance floors at the after party. It’s the perfect opportunity to break out that all-black, formal outfit you’ve been dying to wear all year.  What better way to show it off then on the catwalk at the annual audience-participation fashion  show?

Let your inner locavore roam free this summer and enjoy the fresh air and local produce that is Ottawa.

The July 12 picnic will take place alongside the Main Farmer’s Market (223 Main Street) at noon. No dress code in effect. Stay tuned to Harvest Noir’s website and Twitter for the location announcement of the free summer picnic on August 23.