New festival focuses on well-being

h’OMgrown Fest makes its debut in Pemberton

Think it. Say it. Do it. These simple words are the driving force behind Pemberton’s newest festival: h’OMgrown Fest.

Festival founder and director Tanya Di Valentino has been slowly and mindfully planning the festival for the last year. She became increasingly involved in the “conscious food movement” after moving to Pemberton a year ago, and realized it was the perfect environment to hold a grassroots, community focused festival combining the elements of whole being, whole food and whole community.

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“It was such a natural fit,” she said. “The people of Pemberton are very health-conscious, very active — I noticed a lot of foodies here. I thought: ‘I’m going to take all those aspects and roll them into one amazing festival!’”

The three-day festival takes place Sept. 12 – 14, and it’s promoting self-healing, self-empowerment and self-love through the modalities of yoga, wholesome food and supportive community. The program includes yoga asana, psychology and whole food nutrition workshops, music, nature meditations and educational talks.

The main location for the workshops is the Pemberton Community Centre, which also features an outdoor abundance market on the Great Lawn. Participating vendors include Living Light Coconut Tree (Coconut Butter products), Jules Fuel (super food quinoa breakfast cereal), First Nations arts, crafts and bannock and more.

Programming includes many workshops, from Rya Letham’s “Raw Chocolate Yoga” to Salvatore Zambito’s “Patanjali’s Paradigm: Psychology: Why yoga began in India and not in the West.” Local musician Kostaman will host a Kirtan Reggae Barn Dance Party on the Saturday.

Yoga teacher and organizer Lisa Donovan is teaching two classes on the opening Friday. “I caught the yoga bug 20 years ago — it gets into your life and you can’t help but get involved in it. It’s all about passing it on,” she said.

She said the level of integrity of some teachers coming blew her mind, and was the deciding moment in her becoming involved. “You sit in a room with one of these people for an hour and it’s like ‘Oh, whoa!’ The rabbit hole just continues!” she said.

Di Valentino has been actively involved in the local yoga community for many years, and co-founded and directed the Whistler Yoga Conference from 2010 to 2012. That “came to its natural completion” after she became a mother in 2013. She said she was careful to position the h’OMgrown Fest in a very pure way, not looking for any corporate sponsorship or influence.

“That was very important for the festival’s vision,” she said. “When you go it alone it’s created by the excitement of the people — people who are resonating directly with the idea and wanting to be part of it. It’s hand crafted, which for me is so meaningful.”

With only a small budget, marketing and promotion relied on social media, word of mouth and enthusiastic friends putting up posters in the Sea to Sky community and Vancouver.

The community aspect is key, tying in with another of h’OMgrown Fest’s core values, accessibility (there are six core values: accessibility, trust in abundance, self-empowerment, truthfulness, diligence and big-picture thinking). As well as affordable pricing ($132 for a weekend ticket, $50 to $66 a day ticket and $25 for a single workshop), a portion of the ticket sales and donations provided by local vendors will be used to provide some complimentary classes to the Pemberton community, including kids’ yoga classes, music and free seminars.

“Everyone is welcome,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your background is. It’s not just a yogi festival, it’s not just a foodie festival — there’s no exclusion. I think the purity of it makes it a comfortable thing. If people know me as ‘just a woman who lives in Pemberton’ you know, that’s what it’s all about. We can do it. We can just decide ‘hey, I’m going to do this cause I really believe in it and I’m passionate about it’. Think it. Say it. Do it. We can make it happen — we can all do it.”

Register online at homgrownfest.com or at Tadasana Yoga in Pemberton and Yama Yoga in Whistler.

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