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Heather Heagney: Forging deep connections bite by bite through After the Harvest

Connecting with loved ones over good food and wine has always been a passion for Heather Heagney.

So when the Hintonburg resident launched her first book, After the Harvest: Eat.Drink.Connect. on June 13, she knew exactly how she wanted to celebrate – over Keturah Johnson’s live music, at Viens Avec Moi boutique in Wellington Village, with good food and wine among family and friends.

“It’s an excuse to eat, drink and connect,” she said with a smile, as she greeted her visitors at the door. “I wanted to share this with them first.”

The coffee table book celebrates food and wine, travel, fiction and entertaining. It features Heagney’s biggest passions – while including her love of photography and writing.

The book also stems from her food blog, After the Harvest.

She remembers always being interested in food and how people connect around it.

“When I was a child, my family was always passionate about food and we were always eating dinner together. Even after dinner was over, we would still sit around the table talking and laughing,” Heagney said. “I would write what people had for dinner in my diary. It was a bit of an obsession.”

She learned more about food and wine while working alongside a professional chef in Toronto, working in hospitality, and taking wine courses at George Brown College. As an English literature and cinema theory graduate from the University of Toronto, Heagney also developed a love for writing.
She decided to start a blog, where she featured stories and photos about food, wine and traveling. But felt she wanted to do more.

“I’d done some traveling in Hawaii and California and had some cool stories about food. So I sort of took the leap and thought, why not share them?” Heagney said.

The book is also something she shares with her sister, Wendy Heagney-Bakewell, who created the cover.
“My sister painted this gorgeous picture and I thought it was a perfect cover,” Heagney said.
She added that it still feels surreal seeing the finished product – and, that the book is inspired by the people she met while travelling.

Whether it’s through her blog or book, Heagney said she hopes readers walk away with a message of being kind to the environment through their food choices.

She also hopes readers begin to appreciate the memories that are made around the dinner table.
“Food is a big connecter and I hope people can think of the amazing times they’ve had together,” Heagney said. “You might not remember what you ate, but you remember the people around you.”
Her advice for those who want to transition from blogging to writing a book is to always stay passionate, and to simply go for it.

“When I can tell someone’s passionate about a subject they write, I enjoy reading it,” she said. “I say go for it, take time, and make sure you love what you are putting in the book.”

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