Local Food Week highlights and recognition
Last month I talked about all the exciting events being planned for Local Food Week. Blue Oven Kitchens, Alachua County, 441 Farmers’ Market, Union Street Farmers’ Market, Cinema Verde Environmental Film & Arts Festival, Forage Farm, Slow Food Gainesville, Hogtown HomeGrown, Florida Organic Growers, UF/IFAS, UF Office of Sustainability, Porter’s Community Farm, Edible Plant Project, and others put on some fabulous events the February 9 through February 17. Here are some highlights:
Saturday, 2/9: 441 Farmer’s Market Local Food Celebration. On a cool Saturday morning, approximately 30 visitors to the 441 Farmers Market participated in a cooking demo and tasting by Stefanie Hamblen from Hogtown HomeGrown. The cooking demo highlighted fresh produce from The Family Garden, the very first Food Justice Certified Farm in the south. This newly launched certification ensures that the farm grows its food sustainably, as well as with care for working conditions and fair wages for those who work on the farm, making the produce fair, local and organic! Stefanie cooked lemon cashew cream veggies and winter salad in order to highlight the fresh and nutritious foods from The Family Garden. After the demo, participants were able to sample the food cooked just moments before. There was live music and a free container gardening workshop with the Master Gardeners. Participants savored local tangerines and strawberries while you’re there from market vendors.
Saturday, 2/9: Porter’s Community Farm BBQ, Potluck and Farm Tour. 518 SW 3rd St. Great turnout, and lots of BBQ and fun touring the garden. We got a big smoker for the event!
Monday, 2/11: Free Vegetable Gardening Workshop, 6:30 -7:30pm, County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39 Ave. Attendees learned how to grow their own veggies with horticulture experts from UF/IFAS. To check in about more classes being offered, call: 352-337-6209.
Tuesday, 2/12: Cinema Verde Film Festival Dinner and a Movie with Panel Discussion at Jolie. There was a good crowd and substantially more potluck dishes than we expected. Blue Oven Kitchens did a cooking demo of a fresh, spring mix salad (greens picked that afternoon!), tossed in olive oil, with a spice mix from Shalini Rao (available at Union Street Farmers’ Market) sprinkled on the top. Slow Food Gainesville had The Jones B-side bar manager come in and demo their delicious fundraiser cocktail (which you, too, can enjoy at the B-side, just ask for the Slow Food cocktail). The panel discussion was informative and engaged the audience in topics such as local food, local economics, and the results of a new UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics report on results of a statewide survey asking about local food purchasing habits. The documentary “Grow!” was screened with no charge for admission to the public courtesy of Alachua County.
Wednesday, 2/13: Free Vegetable Gardening Workshop, County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39 Ave. We learned how to grow our own veggies with horticulture experts from UF/IFAS. More information on classes such as these can be found by calling 352-337-6209.
Wednesday, 2/13: Union St. Downtown Farmer’s Market Event. Although attendance was affected by uncertain weather, about 1500 people attended the market with 175 being served a tasting of food products and drinks supplied by 35 of the market’s vendors. The highlight of the event was a great show put on by the Flat Land Band.
Thursday, 2/14: UF’s Farm 2 Table/ Bike 2 Breakfast, Gator Dining Services, UF Campus. We biked to Gator Dining and treated ourselves to a free, locally and sustainably sourced meal. Door prizes for participants were distributed.
Thursday, 2/14: Free “Grow your own Citrus” Workshop. County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39 Ave. We learned how to care for our citrus with horticulture experts from UF/IFAS.
Thursday, 2/14: Chocolate and Bubbles, Blue Oven Kitchens 1323 S Main St. We held an absolutely decadent class featuring several chocolate-focused cooking demos and samples by local artisan chocolatiers Gwen Thompson and Ron Nutter, and champagne tasting and cheese provided by Dorn’s Liquor’s. Flowers from Forage Farm were given to each couple, as well as lots of goodies to take home with a friend or loved one. We were overly sold out for this class, but are thinking of putting it on again. If you would like to attend something like this, please email Val@blueovenkitchens.org to tell me!
Sunday, 2/17: Farm Tour with the Edible Plant Project at the Edible Plant Project Nursery, 2205 SE 23rd Place, 32641. Approximately 20 people arrived for our Fieldtrip to Farm tour of EPP and attended the free workshop on how to grow fruit trees and edibles from cuttings and more. We went into the greenhouse, as it was cold out, and learned about different plants available here locally that are known to do well in our environment. We had time for Q&A and learned about the goals of EPP. Afterwards, we went out to propagate some clippings of local Mulberry trees and made many new plants for future sales. We learned about the sustainability of producing your own seeds and plants from clippings, removing the need to buy plants from other sources. We had some healthy snacks and discussed some more about our propagation techniques and the seed bank that EPP keeps from their plants there. Overall it was very informative, and fun.
Check in with these organizations for more events, classes, workshops, and just plain fun community gatherings throughout the year.
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.