Sunday, October 26, 2008

LandPaths Bayer Farm Harvest Festival

Sometimes I like to volunteer in my spare time, especially if I am asked and if it's something fun. I could not turn down the opportunity to cook at a Harvest Festival right here in Santa Rosa. It's in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood on a beautiful site that was an old farm which now sits right in the middle of lots of apartments, located across from a school. The site was purchased by the city of Santa Rosa with Landpaths as the non-partner partner. I worked on a project through the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy that involved the school, the community and the farm so it holds a special place in my heart.

It also is pretty wonderful that 16 families got to have their gardens there this year, plus a community area which yielded produce to sell two days a week. All around this farm is a win-win situation.

As I drove up to the festival I saw so many people walking in, it was quite amazing. It was estimated that 500 hundred people attended.

I cooked a vegetable dish that we named something exotic for the population -- Vegetable Melange du Jour. We could have named it Vegetales del Dia but that wouldn't have seemed so good. I used produce picked from the garden a couple of hours before. It included peppers, squash, eggplant (berenjena), tomatoes, kale, collards and chard, onions and garlic (the latter 2 I brought with me but they were locally grown). I added some Bragg's liquid amino acids to the dish and it was really good. I made a number of fast batches in the pressure cooker that we served on small pieces of bread.

There were kids who came back and asked if they could have more. There were grown women who asked how to cook eggplant. A woman asked the name of the green that I was using which was kale. She said that she'd seen it growing but didn't know what it was.

It was a beautiful warm, Indian summer Northern California day with people enjoying themselves outdoors. And I got to do some awesome education there. I keep gaining clarity that once people try new vegetables and realize that they taste OK, that they are more likely to buy them, especially if they have some idea how to cook them. And that's where I come in, having fun doing it.
Photo by LandPaths -- Craig Anderson.

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