February is stage for Local Food Week
The holidays and the New Year thus far have been wonderful celebrations of local food and connections. I have been renewing friendships with folks who have Meyer lemon and sour orange trees to get my hands on my years’ supply of zest and juice. I dehydrate the zest to use for sauces and as an ingredient in baked goods. The lemon juice I freeze in ice cube trays and store in a gallon bag. When I want some lemon juice for a sauce or marinade, I simply thaw out a couple of cubes. The orange juice I freeze in large #6 plastic ricotta cheese containers I get from restaurants for later use for lemonade. One container I will use for the UF Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership and Sustainability 100 Mile Dinner this summer, and you will probably see some of this lemonade as part of the Farm-to-Restaurant Month fundraisers benefiting Blue Oven Kitchens this August.
It’s also been a great season for soups. Though there hasn’t been that much cold weather, I have been making stocks with frozen chicken, turkey, pork and beef bones from past feasts and adding turnip, carrot, radish, and various brassica greens for color, flavor, and nutritional value.
I have made time for fishing, learning new winter routines for coastal Gulf species – such as red fish and sea trout – that I never knew before. Thanks to Yankeetown fishing trips I am happy to say, there is more trout in the freezer. We were getting low after our summer of waiting for our half cow and for chicken season to start back up.
I have been busy assisting Alachua County, 441 Farmers’ Market, Union Street Farmers’ Market, Cinema Verde, Forage Farm, Slow Food Gainesville, Florida Organic Growers, UF/IFAS, UF Office of Sustainability and others to plan Alachua Counties Local Food Week, February 9, and February 17. Here are some highlights:
Saturday, 2/9: 441 Farmer’s Market Local Food Celebration, 8:30am to 1:00pm, 5920 NW 13th St. Live music, cooking demos and tastings with Food Justice Certified produce from The Family Garden and Hogtown Homegrown. Free container gardening workshop with the Master Gardeners. Eat some local tangerines and strawberries while you’re there!
Saturday, 2/9: Porter’s BBQ, Potluck and Farm Tour, 2-5pm, 518 SW 3rd St. Tour the urban farm, Porter’s Community Farm. While you’re there, eat some free BBQ and get your feet dirty! Bring something to share.
Monday, 2/11: Free Vegetable Gardening Workshop, 6:30 -7:30pm, County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39 Ave. Learn how to grow your own veggies with horticulture experts from UF/IFAS. Preregister at 352-337-6209.
Tuesday, 2/12: Downtown Farmer’s Garden lunch tour, 11-1pm, Grounds of County Admin. Bldg, 12 SE 1stSt. Bring a picnic lunch and take a tour of Gainesville’s own downtown garden!
Tuesday, 2/12: Cinema Verde Dinner and a Movie with Panel Discussion, 6 -8:30pm, Jolie, 12 W Univ. Ave. Free! Watch the documentary “Grow!”, and stay for a panel discussion on local food. Bring a dish with your fav farmer’s mkt item to share. Cooking demos and tastings by Blue Oven Kitchens and Slow Food Gainesville.
Wednesday, 2/13: Free Vegetable Gardening Workshop, 3- 4pm, County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39 Ave. Learn how to grow your own veggies with horticulture experts from UF/IFAS. Preregister at 352-337-6209.
Wednesday, 2/13: Downtown Farmer’s Market Event, 4-7pm, Bo Diddley Community Plaza, 111 E Univ. Ave. Live music with the band Flat Land from 5:30-6:45! Try specially prepared tastings of local food from vendors, and participate in Forage Farm’s seed drive.
Thursday, 2/14: UF’s Farm 2 Table/ Bike 2 Breakfast, 7:30-10am, Gator Dining Services, UF Campus. Bike to Gator Dining and treat yourself to a free, locally and sustainably sourced meal. Door prizes for participants.
Thursday, 2/14: Free “Grow your own Citrus” Workshop, 3- 4pm, County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39 Ave. Learn how to care for your citrus with horticulture experts from UF/IFAS. Preregister at 352-337-6209.
Thursday, 2/14: Chocolate and Bubbles, 6- 8pm, Blue Oven Kitchens 1323 S Main St. A decadent class featuring several cooking demos and samples by local artisan chocolatiers and Dorn’s. Vintage champagne and cheese pairings, with lots of goodies to take home with a friend or loved one. Space limited! Register at 352-278-7518.
Sunday, 2/17: Farm Tour with the Edible Plant Project, 3- 5pm, Edible Plant Project Nursery, 2205 SE 23rd Place, 32641. Free workshop on how to grow fruit trees and edibles from cuttings and more. Learn about the native plants in your own backyard that you can use in a variety of ways!
For more info and event details about Local Food Week, please visit http://localfood.alachuacounty.us, and www.Gainesvilleconnect.com, and the Alachua County Sustainability webpage at www.sustainability.alachuacounty.us. Visit www.cinemaverde.org for more information on Cinema Verde. Details about these and other, Blue Oven specific events are available at www.blueovenkitchens.org.
Hope to see you at these fabulous events!
Interested in finding out more about Blue Oven Kitchens? Please look for full updates on the BOK website, Facebook, and through the GLOB of course! With this facility, we will create new ways for you to support new and expanding food entrepreneurs and small farmers who want to create delicious food products for your enjoyment. Email Val Leitner if you would like more information on how to volunteer your elbow grease, if you would like to become a sustaining sponsor to Blue Oven, or if you would just like to help us buy a stand-up mixer for our facility!
Want to know more about what’s local and what local means in our community? The Local Digest is a monthly piece on all things local in North Central Florida, from food to economics to environment to community. Local, you see, isn’t just a way of buying or a way of eating: it’s a whole system of the social, economic, and environmental values that mark the character of where we live, and how we seek to improve the health of those values. It is a column about sustaining our region and what we love most about it.