Harvest is an important time in an agricultural community. It’s a time of abundance, of collaboration, of gathering.
That’s why Kirsten Young decided to host a harvest fundraiser for her friend-since-childhood Amy Janzen.
Among her many and ongoing challenges, Janzen lost her husband Ben to an aggressive form of cancer earlier this year. This has left her on her own with two young children (Kendal is three and Brooke is six), coping with all that entails.
But of course in this town you’re never really on your own. Janzen’s mother Christine Forrer says, “One of the things that brings me down to my knees is the immense amount of love and support from this community.”
Young and her fellow organizers also chose the harvest theme because Janzen’s immediate and extended family are farmers: they own Forrer Farms on East West Line. “Harvest seemed like an appropriate time to get everyone together,” she says.
As fortune would have it, the family also includes two professional chefs. Janzen’s cousin Justin Duc is co-owner of the wildly successful Oddbird restaurant in St Catharines, and Young and her husband co-own In the Smoke Cookery. Both will be providing the food for the event at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre on Oct. 1.
Dinner will be served family-style, from large shared plates at large shared tables. Duc and his Oddbird partner Scott White will be running an oyster bar and serving chicken wings among other things. Nathan Young will be serving up the BBQ food for which he has become well known.
Dozens of people from the community have stepped forward to contribute in any number of ways. Wineries such as Tawse, Peller Estates, Ferox, Megalomaniac and Big Head have made generous donations. The chefs are donating their time. Friends and family have volunteered to serve at the event. Young’s brother Neil Sachs and his friend Mark Bergen will be playing acoustic music at the dinner. It all speaks volumes about the tightly-connected residents in our small town.
“I think people just want to help, but they don’t know how,” says Young. This is one way people can offer their support for Janzen. “Come on out and have a nice dinner and do something good,” Young says. All profits from the event go to Janzen and her children.
You can learn more about the family and their many struggles over the past decade at Janzen’s blog, We Are the Janzens. “She’s so courageous — it’s heart wrenching,” says Young, in tears.
Tickets for the fundraising harvest dinner are $65; there will be a cash bar. Capacity for the event is 120; reserving in advance is strongly recommended. More information and tickets can be found via the Eventbrite page, via the Oddbird or In the Smoke Cookery Facebook pages, or by email at email@example.com.
“It’s all about helping out the whole family: they’re the nicest people in the world,” says Young.