It’s a cookbook, a story book, and a geocaching book wrapped into one.

It’s A Taste of the Valley, and Jeff Bloom is very happy with how it turned out.

“The original idea was for a cookbook, with recipes from seniors, and possibly some anecdotal stuff,” says Bloom, who co-ordinated the book for the Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society. “The main idea was to have youth go out and talk to the seniors to get the recipes.”

Bloom decided to enhance the anecdotal side of the book, and then decided, since the stories dealt with many specific spots in the region, to set up geocaches at as many of the locations as possible.

“I’ve been involved in geocaching since 2009. I know there are now 37 more geocaches in the area, since that’s how many we have in the book.”

Most of the geocache sites and tips are listed at geocaching.com, but there are a few which can only be found in the book.

“Think of it as a bonus,” Bloom says.

The geocaching itself is a bonus, since the primary focus of A Taste of the Valley is on the history and the recipes. Bloom found what he thought might be the hardest part of bringing things together turned out to be an easy one.

“I contacted the high school, and some of the teachers got their students involved.”

The Leadership class had seniors assigned to them, while a pair of English classes were able to choose a senior they knew to interview.

“Some of them were nervous about interviewing ‘old people’,” Bloom says, “so they just interviewed the oldest person at the school they could find.

“So we’ve got a couple of stories in there from Kevin Dixon.”

Bloom didn’t put any age or ‘residency’ restrictions on the students, but says most of them ended up interviewing people from their late 50s to mid 90s.

“The vast majority of them would be from people who spent significant amounts of time here.”

As the pieces started to come in, Bloom was quite pleased with the overall quality.

“Several in there are very touching stories, and many are quite well-written.

“I only did very light editing. I wanted to leave the feel of their writing.”

The one thing he found some of the students had a problem with was length.

“I asked for 300 to 500 words, and some of them wrote more than 1,000 words. They were obviously impressed with the people they interviewed, so they wrote this much to tell the story.”

One of the biggest problems Bloom ran into was laying the book out.

“I talked with a number of people in town and got some pointers, but nobody was able to do the layout.

“I tried Thompson Rivers University, and they pointed me to RG Strategies in Kamloops.

“I brought the stuff to them, and a week later they sent back a layout. I made a few changes, and it was ready to go.”

For now, copies of A Taste of the Valley are available at the Baillie House and the Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society office.