Kearsarge Area Eat Local (KAEL) is gearing up to hold its second Eat Local Week in Warner to give residents an opportunity to learn where their food comes from and introduce more local food to their diet. Eat Local events will be held around town from Friday, June 3, through Sunday, June 12. KAEL also organized an Eat Local Week in September.
“The overall purpose or reason to do this is to try to reduce the amount of fuel we spend on transporting food from long distance,” said Susan Hemingway, one of the event organizers. “We just like be able to connect consumers with farmers, and this is one way to do that.”
Hemingway said the fall celebration generated a lot of enthusiasm in the community, resulting in a partnership with an environmental studies class from Colby Sawyer College. KAEL will serve as a community partner for the year-long class and is working out the details to develop a curriculum related to the local food system. The organizers of the Warner Fall Foliage Festival are looking at serving mainly local food at their event as a result of the success of Eat Local Week, Hemingway said.
“This [Eat Local Week] is kind of celebrating the beginning of the summer farmers market season,” Hemingway said. “We wanted to bring attention to that.”
The first farmers market of the season will be held at Warner Town Hall on Saturday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and feature a “Beyond the Boiled Vegetable” cooking demonstration by Tricia Orr, co-founder of the Kearsarge Vegetarian Society. Some call the Warner Farmers Market the longest continuous farmers market in the state — it originated in 1974.
“We hope the farmers market will continue to grow,” Hemingway said, adding that this year’s market has drawn the interest of more vendors.
A community pot luck dinner will also be held at Warner Town Hall on Saturday, June 4, at 6 p.m.
“People will bring a dish made, hopefully, with a local ingredient or two,” Hemingway said. “Certainly it’s not a requirement — we just want to get people together — but hopefully people will experiment with local foods in season.”
Eat Local Week will feature presentations by University of New Hampshire professor John Carroll, author of The Real Dirt: Toward Food Sufficiency and Farm Sustainability in New England, and Ben Hewitt, author of The Town That Food Saved and Making Supper Safe.
“It’s a fun way to get people together to talk about [eating local] and think about it,” Hemingway said. “We are being creative with what we can create in this particular area, a lot of areas are doing similar things, and we are finding what works for our particular region.”
The week will be capped off with tours of area farms — Vegetable Ranch, Courser Farm, Hopewell Farm, Buffalo Farm, Worksong Farm and Kearsarge Gore Farm — on Sunday, June 12, from noon to 4 p.m.
“I think it’s important to meet the farmers face-to-face and maybe learn things about where food is grown, the process, and to eat foods that are not only local but that are in season,” Heminway said. “I think people are so disconnected about where their food comes from.”
Larry Pletcher, owner of Vegetable Ranch in Warner, said during the tour he will show guests his hoop houses in which tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are now growing and walk them by his fields filled with chard, kale, lettuce and spinach and raised beds growing parsley and arugula.
“From a farming standpoint, the start of the farmers market … that’s always a big thing for us,” Pletcher said. “We want to be supportive of local foods in Warner.”