by Cheryl Kollin, Principal, Full Plate Ventures

Chef Tony Marciante, who plans his local and seasonal menus daily, was amazed to learn recently that there are 561 farms in Montgomery County. Farmer Shannon Varley is so busy between growing food, raising a young family, and finding land for new farmers that she has little time to find new buyers for her meats, vegetables, eggs, and flowers. Red Wiggler’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members can’t understand why there’s a limited supply of their favorite organic vegetables and fruits.

On the Farm; Around the Table – Connecting farmers, food, and community in three meals explores the complex issues around building our local, sustainable food system and introduces you to those who are the passionate architects of this system. “We’ve invited farmers, chefs, health professionals, conservationists, and consumers to break bread together – literally and metaphorically,” explains Dave Feldman, Executive Director of Bethesda Green, who is co-hosting the events with Full Plate Ventures.

This late summer educational series will also delight the palate with locally-produced and homemade breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dave offers, “What better way to engage people about these issues while enjoying food prepared with the late summer’s bounty grown and prepared by our presenters.” Breakfast will include freshly baked breads with sour cherry jam, fresh fruit, and quiches made with pastured eggs and locally-crafted sausage and vegetables. Lunch will feature Rocklands Farm’s own grass fed beef burgers with a variety of vegetarian salads and fruit cobbler. Dinner at Chef Tony’s Restaurant will feature a menu around seafood, artisan cheeses, local wine and whatever is fresh from the farm that day.

Our first event on August 21, Closing the Loop in Our Food System, will introduce you to the components of a food system and the complexities of fitting pieces of this food puzzle together.

Throughout the On the Farm, Around the Table series, we will introduce you to Full Circle Foods (FCF), a collaboration of entrepreneurial and non-profit businesses that are passionate about building a sustainable and healthy food system in our region. Our goals are ambitious: 1.) Strengthen farmers’ market capacity by aggregating and distributing products into new markets they cannot reach individually; 2.) Establish relationships among growers, aggregators, distributors, and buyers that support ecological growing practices, fair wages for all workers, and the local economy; and 3.) Collect food waste for composting to return nutrients to the soil.

So, fill your plate, meet your farmers, engage in the conversation, and join us for what will be a delicious experience.

Bethesda Green and Full Plate Ventures gratefully acknowledge our supporters, including MOM’s Organic Market, Chef Tony’s Restaurant, and all of our contributing partners.