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A tiny brigade of volunteer artists and cooks are providing meals for farm and vineyard workers in rural Hillier, Ont., in Prince Edward County.Kirstyn Mayers/Redtail Vineyards

This year so far has been something other than a picnic, but a wee brigade of artists and chefs in Southern Ontario’s rural Prince Edward County are determined to change that.

The members of Alchemy Artists Residency, an artists' group committed to community engagement through the sharing of art and food, are providing free meals to farm and vineyard workers in the hamlet of Hillier, a quaint 100-person place of wineries and lavender.

Funding comes via the StoreHouse Food Bank and the County Foundation.

The food preparers work out of a donated kitchen at Closson Chase Vineyards, using products purchased locally.

A typical repast might consist of pork tenderloin, homemade applesauce, mustard greens, lentils with roasted squash and bread from a mobile oven.

Because of COVID-19, the workers, from Mexico, are bubbled, unable to socialize among vineyards other than their own.

Each dinner is individually packaged and labelled with the recipient’s name, often with hand-drawn artwork.

“The drawings represent and honour the workers' contribution to the harvest,” says Claire Tallarico, one of the Alchemy co-ordinators.

More than 500 meals have been presented so far, with another 180 in the works before the project is finished soon in what was once known as the garden county of Canada.

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Closson Chase Vineyards donates a kitchen to be used.Kirstyn Mayers/Redtail Vineyards

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Kirstyn Mayers/Redtail Vineyards

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Midnight shift at Redtail VineyardsLee Baker/Redtail Vineyards

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Watering at the Vineyards.Lee Baker/Redtail Vineyards

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