Eat Local Month
An edible adventure
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
I was only gone for four days, but the changes that took place in our garden last weekend while I was visiting friends in Idaho were mildly alarming. Suddenly, just about everything—from grapefruit-sized tomatoes to plums, blackberries, rhubarb, peas, kale and far beyond—is ripe and ready for picking, and the clock is now ticking on when the fruits and vegetables need to be harvested.
I’ve experienced this astounding abundance many times before, and it typically means Eat Local Month is just around the corner.
Since Sustainable Connections started the event as a way to say “thank you” to local food producers, restaurants and artisans, September has been an optimal time not only to taste the seasonal smorgasbord the area has to offer, but also to give a nod to the positive impact the aforementioned entities have on our local economy.
At the sixth annual Hootenanny taking place Sun., Sept. 2 at Boundary Bay Brewery’s beer garden to kick off Eat Local Month, both food and funding will be on full display. While attendees are listening to live music, square dancing, eating and drinking local fare and clapping their hands when Farmer Awards are given out, they’ll also be helping pad the Community Food Co-op’s Farm Fund, which directly benefits sustainable, organic food and farming projects in Whatcom and Skagit counties.
Since 2000, the fund has distributed approximately $383,000 to more than 55 local farms and food and farming organizations, and generous contributions mean it will continue to do so.
“The farm fund is one of best ways of giving back we do around here,” says Community Outreach Manager Karl Meyer. “I’ve been here six years now, and I’m struck how much this place is about local and the community. It’s such a competitive grocery environment, and a program like this brings out the Co-op difference.”
Following the “Hoot,” edible adventures will continue throughout the month. Nearly 20 restaurants—from Aslan Brewing Co. to the Wild Oat Bakery and Cafe—will offer $6 and $12 Eat Local Month specials created with fresh ingredients sourced from Whatcom and Skagit county farms.
Additionally, a Cooking Lit Book Group meeting Wed., Sept. 5 at Village Books will feature an appearance by scribe Susan Colleen Browne, author of Little Farm Homegrown: A Memoir of Food-Growing, Midlife, and Self-Reliance on a Small Homestead.
The following weekend, Sept. 8-9, the free, family-friendly Whatcom Farm Tour will see more than 12 area farms swinging open their gates and inviting people in to see, taste, feel and learn what goes into local food production. A variety of producers will be featured during the weekend, including those providing vegetables, beef, eggs and poultry, flowers, dairy products, and even yak. Related locavore events include a Farm Tour Brunch at Cosmos Bistro, a Farm to Pint Pairing at Boundary Bay, and a Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Pairing at Samson Estates Winery.
You’ll also want to schedule time to attend the ever-evolving Bellingham SeaFeast Sept. 21-22 at Zuanich Point Park to discover more about Whatcom’s maritime heritage and its internationally renowned fishing and seafood industries, and a Unity Care NW event Sept. 28 at the Ciao Thyme Commons that will highlight not only local food, but also provide information about Unity Care NW’s nutrition and food-based programs that help patients focus on nutrition and healthy habits.
Hopefully, it goes without saying that Eat Local Month doesn’t have to be contained to just September. Many nearby farmers markets continue into the fall, and we live in a climate that makes being a locavore possible throughout most of the year.
For now, though, enjoy the abundance in your backyard and beyond, and support those who make sure our plates will never be empty.
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