Friday, October 17, 2008

Tilth Producers Brunch

Way back in July, I was approached by Zach Zink of the Pike Place Market to help with a fundraiser for the Tilth Producers of Washington. They are an organization of over 400 growers that promotes “ecologically sound, economically viable and socially equitable farming practices that improve the health of our communities and natural environment.” Sounds like something right up my alley! I’d been familiar with the big annual event they organize that gathers farmers from all over the state for a weekend of networking and workshops to offer organic agricultural techniques, research and issues. I’d also attended a Farm Walk at Stokesberry Sustainable Farm, one of ten half day workshops that is cosponsored by WSU. Those are educational and fun activities that can also provide the forum to exchange meaningful dialogue regarding farming techniques and theories.

So Zach asked me to put together a brunch menu and he’d source the goodies for me. He also managed to get Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin to come and give remarks to the brunch attendees. The brunch was held in Carnation at the Carnation Tree Farm in barn that has a converted loft. The views from the top of the barn are of the tree farm and a nicely sized garden and, in the distance, Tolt-MacDonald Park.

I kept the meal fairly simple, given that I had only a small home-style kitchen to work in for a meal for 40 people. A mixed greens salad dressed with fresh blueberries, goat’s cheese and a basil-mint vinaigrette was accompanied by a winter squash soup garnished with an herbed sour cream. Grandview Mushroom Farm donated some shiitake and chanterelles which were used with Larkhaven Farm’s aged sheep’s milk cheese to create a savory mushroom frittata. Rosemary and garlic spiked fingerling potatoes and wilted Lacinato kale were passed around the room on platters. For dessert, I baked some emmer flour biscuits and served it with deliciously fresh whipped cream and a simple raspberry coulis. The dairy products came form Golden Glen Creamery, and I highly recommend seeking out their products. A quick shout-out to some of the other farms that donated goods to the brunch include: Full Circle Farm, Alm Hill Garden, 21 Acres Farm, Growing Things, Sidhu Farms, Baird Orchards, Willies Greens, Herbco, Bluebird Grain Farms, Nash’s Organic Farm, Columbia City Bakery, Caffe Vita and Madison Market who supplied oil, wine, and various sundries.

It was nice to see some familiar faces, including PCC’s Goldie Caughlin, Growing Thing Farm’s Michelle Blakely and King County’s “Farmbudsman” Steve Evans in attendance. Councilman Conlin’s comments were perfect for the feel of the event. “Food is a people connector:” was the theme of his remarks. He noted that the Seattle City Council is moving into new ground on many fronts with their effort to strengthen the King County Action Food Policy Council. First, continuing to find ways of getting local food into our schools, hospitals, and institutions. Next, by giving more funding to established groups like Food Lifeline and SPU’s Food Recovery Task Force. Finally, he stated the goal of the Council to free up land that the city and county have had control over for decades to provide for more community gardens and P-patches. I was amazed when he said that there are over 2600 people who participate in community farming in the city’s gardens, but that the waitlist has another 2600 people waiting for a place to grow their own vegetables. Conlin’s objective is to have nobody on the waitlist and put the dirt in the people’s hands.

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