Well, it looks like we weren’t the only ones in heavy anticipation of the Boston Local Food Festival! This past Saturday afternoon, the waterfront at the Fort Point Channel was awash with vendors, chefs, farmers, volunteers, bakers, fishermen, and waves of festival-goers who effectively wished the forecasted rain into a bright, warm, fall day. By the many accounts of festival-goers, with their hands full of produce, baked goods, warm fresh sandwiches, cups of chowder and sustainability literature, keeping off the rain was not the only success of the festival.
Under the Ula Café tent, co-owner Korinn Koslofsky of the Jamica Plain cafe and bakery was busy cutting slices of her butternut squash and apple strudel breads for a steady stream of people. “This is really great exposure,” she said, gesturing around her, and to her goods, which were baked with dairy products donated by Maple Valley Creamery in Hadley, MA. “We are well known in JP, but JP can feel insular. People are being really receptive to us. It’s really nice to be displaying something we are proud of.”
George Georgaklis of a new initiative called Farmers To You agreed, “The food does the talking,” he said as a crowd swarmed around his display of Vermont cheeses. The founders of Farmers To You, which connects the fresh produce, dairy, grain and meat of 25 farms in central Vermont with Boston area families, came to the festival with hopes of gaining more exposure. “[Farmers to You] is so simple that it takes explaining,” said Georgaklis, “Essentially, it’s a way of helping rebuild our regional food system. Our goal is to eventually reach 2,000 families.”
Based on the size of the crowd strolling along the waterfront, exposure is what local food supporters such as Ula Café and Farmers to You got. And as if sampling the fresh local food products of a full fall harvest wasn’t enough, the festival organizers created multiple other ways to keep festival-goers engaged. Musical performances included belly dancing and reggae, butchering and cooking demos featured the likes of Chef Ehlenfeldt of Stone Hearth Pizza Co. and Chef JJ Gonson of Cuisine en Locale in Cambridge, and local craft beer tastings showcased the best local brews across the region.
But the biggest attraction of the Boston local Food festival was one felt not seen: an overall sense of community under the common goal to promote the healthy and sustainable practice of choosing local food first. Carole Soule, the owner of Miles Smith Farm in NH, talked briefly about her immediate goal of introducing Miles Smith Farm beef to the Boston market before launching into her bigger concern: food security. “If we support local food, we are making ourselves more secure and more independent,” she said while handing out pamplets next to the free water coolers she had brought to discourage bottled water purchases. She smiled, “Next year, I’d like to bring a cow.”