Saturday, August 4, 2012
Pig Roast Report + Sunday Market Preview: Ohio Valley Greenmarket
Ohio Valley Greenmarket, one of multiple events this year replacing Farmers Fair, began Friday night with a pig roast at Winton Woods. Growers of all stripes, chefs, sponsors, and just plain interested folks like me filled four long tables like this. The Daly Shelter at Winton Woods was a great setting for the kick-off of the three-day event, billed as "a celebration of community and sustainability." It had been years since I'd been to Winton Woods, but it reminded me how lucky I am to live in an area that offers so many urban oases within the I-275 beltway, thanks to our fabulous Hamilton County Park system.
Middle West Spirits, a micro-distillery based in Columbus that uses Ohio-raised grains and fruits in its vodkas and whiskey. Josh Daly shared lots of information about the company's products, and the realities faced by small local food/beverage businesses. He also offered up cocktails made from the distillery's OYO Stone Fruit Vodka with lemonade and pomegranate juice (in that elegant glass container in front of the Ford Fusion, which was available for test drives, courtesy of sponsor Ford Motor Company). A refreshing beverage indeed. Here it is with a wedge of lemon, next to some of the gorgeous table flowers provided by Adopt-a-Plant.
I'm not going to attempt to cite all the sponsors of Ohio Valley Greenmarket for fear of leaving someone out. I wasn't an organizer, although I am looking forward to volunteering a couple hours of my time Sunday morning to help Market vendors load in. I tip my hat to what clearly is a large group of dedicated individuals who pulled together resources and sponsors to make this first-ever event happen.
Edible Ohio Valley magazine was among the key players and publicizers. While we were waiting for our pig to finish cooking, EOV's Julie Kramer and food writer Bryn Mooth gave us the opportunity to hear from Iowa farmer Paul Willis about the road he's traveled to become part of the Niman Ranch "brand" of humanely and sustainably raised animals, a darling of many chef's menus.
Starting out by accepting an offer to "buy one sow and receive five pigs for free," Willis later visited a lamb farmer friend in the San Francisco Bay area. Which led to meeting Bill Niman, and opportunities for Willis's pork to be tasted at the likes of Chez Panisse and Zuni Cafe. With thumbs up from those restaurants (Willis says he thought he had a good product, but didn't know it was THAT good at the time), Niman asked for more. In 1995, Willis shipped his first 30 pigs to Niman. But he knew he couldn't supply the quantity Niman was looking for, especially year-round. So he turned to neighboring small farmers who shared his commitment to raising their pigs in pastures or bedded pens, not the confinement bins and gestation stalls used by Big Ag producers. There were lots of logistics to figure out. Willis has now assembled a consortium of some 500 like-minded farms in 12 states, and together they've reduced their shipping rates to California to 10 cents/pound (less than the cost of shipping conventional feed there from the Midwest to feed CA animals). As someone who was born in Nebraska, I am astonished to learn raising pigs outdoors is a rarity. A lot has changed in the last 50 years. Between Paul Willis's talk and his Q+A with the audience, I learned more as well. But I'll spare you the gory details (for now).
Because you might be here for some pig roast food pics. So I'll move along.
Continuing to move along, Sunday's market for the Ohio Valley Greenmarket will be held at Glenwood Gardens (another urban oasis) and runs from 11:00 to 5:00, featuring more than 50 vendors. Here are just a few: Carriage House Farm, Napoleon Ridge Farm, Marksbury Farm, Green BEAN Delivery, Fab Ferments, Mt. Kofinas Olive Oil, One Small Garden, and Ohio Farm Direct.
I'm also really eager to try out a couple of new food trucks: Cooper’s Crepes and Robinson’s Roaming Pig (featuring Bill Dean Family Farms chicken).
Sunday's schedule also includes speakers I'm looking forward to checking out:
12:00p: Todd Shock + Amber Gallihar: Chipotle – Cultivating a Better World
12:30p Steven Geddes: Heritage Breed Pigs
1:00p Braden Trauth of This Land: Permaculture: The Path into the Next Millennium
1:30p Kathy Charvat of The Greater Cincinnati Master Gardeners: Achieving a Big Harvest from Little Plants in Pots
2:00p Brad Rogers of Urban Harvest: High-Yield Urban Aquaponics
2:30p Juliann Gardner of One Small Garden: Growing Four Seasons of Veggies in One Small Garden
3:00p Heather Curliss of Greener Stock: Holistic Approach to Green Design and Building
3:30p Jennifer Bartley of American Potager: Sizzle! Cooking Fresh from the Summer Garden
4:00p Matthew Kennedy of Sustain Brands: Local and Sustainable: Working within the Current Business Structure
As much as many of our local farmers could benefit from rain, let's hope the weather cooperates for this event. I'm looking forward to seeing familiar faces, meeting new friends, and learning more, as I always do when I back away from the computer, get out of the house, and discover more from the great people in my food community!