For those of us living in the Valley, it’s difficult not to think about nature when driving past the many rolling hills and fields that make up our daily landscape. Our morning commute can often involve a few cow sightings or corn stalks blowing in the breeze. When it rains, we’re often greeted with the rich scent of vegetation (and frequently, and perhaps not as pleasantly, its fertilizer too).
We have a strong presence of farmers markets in our communities that offer the opportunity to connect with growers, buy seasonal produce, and learn about the journey that stalk of broccoli or head of cabbage took from the ground to the farm stand. And in the season of pumpkin picking, we can even travel a few miles down the road to see first-hand how our future pumpkin pie or jack-o-lantern came to be.
Fortunately, we are beginning to experience a cultural shift towards returning to healthier eating and seeking out locally produced foods. With such a drastic national rise in obesity in recent years, it’s no wonder we’ve begun craving a more active lifestyle and a fresher, more wholesome dinner plate.
However, for as far as we have come and as much awareness as we continue to strive for about how we nourish our bodies, there is always something more we can do.
Learning more about the farmers who produce our food is one small way that we can make a huge impact on our understanding of the hard work and intense dedication it takes to feed our communities. Who are the people behind the pitchfork, the pepper, and the plate?
Amidst a swath of inspiring movements and initiatives gaining momentum – the Slow Food Revolution, Buy Fresh Buy Local, and Fair Trade, to name a few – is the concept of farm-to-table. Farm-to-table is centered around making connections between farmers and consumers and raising awareness in consumers about where their food comes from.
Frequently, farm-to-table events emphasize these principles through hosting a multi-course meal prepared using local ingredients from a farm at a table shared with the farmer(s) who grew the ingredients. Often, these events even take place on the farm itself. (Looking for an example? Check out Outstanding in the Field.)
Several local Food Day coordinators are working to bring such events to Harrisonburg, and on Food Day (Monday, October 24), we are planning to host a farm-to-table breakfast in the Turner Pavilion in downtown Harrisonburg. The Turner Pavilion is home to the Harrisonburg Farmers Market and we will be preparing the breakfast using ingredients by some of the Market’s farmers as well as other local producers. This ticketed event will provide a wonderful opportunity to meet local farmers and sit down to enjoy a local breakfast together. Check our Events page often for developing details and announcements about when tickets go on sale.
Take advantage of our thriving local food scene and take a moment to learn about the farmers who produce your favorite foods. Ask a question or share a meal with them. Establishing these connections and becoming a more educated consumer will not only continue to strengthen our communities, but will also make your next meal that much more satisfying.
Nicole Martorana is the Promotions Manager for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and serves on the planning committee for Shenandoah Valley Food Day.