Summer’s not over — a few more food events for your calendar
I just got back from one of the best food-focused events I’ve attended in DC — the farm-to-street party at Union Market — the culmination of a great Eat Local First week. What made it great? In my opinion, it was the focus on local food businesses and the direct access to the entrepreneurs behind them. Getting to shake their hands and hear their stories — not to mention taste their products — adds real meaning to the buy-local mantra. And they’re putting out great stuff!
As a freelance journalist who often writes about the folks behind our food, I love collecting so many story ideas in one place (and my poor husband thought we were just going to “get some food”). But, as a generally interested human, I find their stories truly inspiring. Every one of those booths represents someone’s dream coming to fruition, in the form of a veggie taco or a concentrated coffee beverage, a piece of art or pulled pork on a bun. They had an idea or a product and they pursued it. And, today, they got to share that idea with hundreds of people.
I walked by one booth selling “mobile” food — as in they don’t even have a food truck yet, let alone a restaurant — that’s just getting started selling its wares at pop-up booths and markets like this. There were other vendors I remember being at that point a year ago who are now recognizable brands. Visitors’ faces light up as they walk up to the stands to try that drink they read about in a magazine a while back (OK, that may have been me a few times). I’m working on a story about the trials and travails of starting such businesses in DC. And, as one vendor shared with me today, for all the ups and downs, it’s been totally worth it.
I should also mention that I have a great husband who is equally interested in these things, or at least indulges me when we stop to talk to the kombucha man for, oh, an hour (happy Saturday, honey!). So, now that I’m riding on my happy-food-event high, and the dear month of July is coming to a close (how did this happen?), what’s there to look forward to?
Lots. My calendar is already chockfull of events I’d like to attend through the end of the summer, including some exciting ones coming up next week. I thought I’d share in case you, too, are fearing a case of food-event withdrawal…
The Piedmont Environmental Council is running a great series through September on Restoring Local Food Systems, with classes on making kombucha and growing mushrooms in the coming weeks. The classes are in Charlottesville, but I do plan/hope to schlep down from Alexandria for a few. Let me know if you’d like to carpool! I am confident they’ll be worth the drive.
All the events will be held at Rebecca’s Natural Food in the Barracks Road Shopping Center (1141 Emmet Street, Charlottesville, VA). Check the www.BuyLocalVirginia.org events page, Rebecca’s Natural Food Facebook page, or PEC’s Buy Fresh Buy Local Facebook page for more information. The events are free.
And here are the details for the next two events, with many more farm-focused ones to follow:
Tuesday, July 30th, 6:30-7:30PM:
Brewing Culture: How to Make Kombucha
Ethan Zuckerman, Barefoot Bucha
Tuesday, August 6th. 6:30-7:30PM:
Farming with Fungal Allies (Mushrooms!)
Mark Jones, Sharondale Farm
And, if that’s not enough inspiration (or not close enough to the city), the Smithsonian is hosting a great summer series on #foodinthegarden that continues this week. Even though it will be our fourth wedding anniversary (Wahoo!), I may not be able to resist attending this Thursday. I could really use a panel discussion as inspiration to take my gardening more seriously (i.e. graduate beyond herbs and get over my fear of the dog eating the garden… or build a raised bed). Tickets are $20 and include two cocktails featuring Green Hat Gin and WildCraft Soda, with food from local farms.
Here’s a rundown of the upcoming events from the Smithy’s website, and read more about them here.
Grow Now: Local Growers Spill the Beans
August 1, 2013, 6-8 p.m.
Can gardening change the world? Join a conversation about gardening as an educational act of change in our local communities and across the country.
August 8, 2013, 6-8 p.m.
Get dirty as we discuss what soil is all about, how we manipulate it, and the future of fertilizers and composting in our backyard gardens.
Celebrate Julia Child’s 101st Birthday!
August 15, 2013, 6-9 p.m.
Celebrate the 101st birthday of an American culinary icon with a film screening of Julie & Julia courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. (I attended Julia’s b-day party at the Smithsonian last year and wrote about it here.)
And don’t forget the most historic and traditional food fests of all — the county fairs. They kick off for several counties in the DC region in early August. Fairfax County’s begins Aug. 3, followed by Arlington County and then Montgomery, Prince William and Prince George’s counties. Read more about the fairs at the bottom of this page.
And, last but certainly not least, don’t forget your local farmers market! Those continue well into the fall. Plans are in the works to extend the one nearest my house into December, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The longer the better. I just wouldn’t know what to do if a week in my calendar went by without the word “food” or “farmer” penciled onto it.