Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Restoring Americas Food Traditions: The 2009 Grow-Out

I have had the pleasure over the last two weeks of attending 2 of 3 kick off meetings for the Grow-Out of heirloom vegetables regionally adapted to New England.
Last Sunday in Providence the kick off meeting was held at La Laiterie, Chefs Matt and Kate Jennings local and nationally recognized bistro, known for their honest, haute farm cuisine. And yesterday the meeting was held at the recently opened Craigie On Main owned by one of Bostons "locavore" pioneers & JBF nominee for Best Chef Northeast, Chef Tony Maws.

The RAFT coalition to Renew America’s Food Traditions was founded in 2005 to restore America’s agricultural biodiversity and to develop a public understanding of place-based foods. Chefs Collaborative has put this whole project together along with Slow Food New England and might I say they have done an amazing job!

A group of chefs and farmers from 3 separate New England regions ( Boston, Portsmouth NH, and Providence RI) have agreed to grow and purchase 16 varieties of heirloom vegetables. Farmers will receive vegetable seeds provided by RAFT, Seed Savers Exchange and other seed providers, then grow the vegetables for chefs who have agreed to purchase the produce and feature it on their menus.

We are very excited to be a part of the pilot program and hope that we can be part of its success to encourage other parts of the country to start their own Grow-Outs.

At Tastings we have the luxury of being 2 miles away from Wards Berry Farm,working with farmer Jim Ward since we have opened last August, we are excited to team up with Jim on this project. We also hope to connect with some of the other farmers participating in the program to get as many of the produce varieties as we can get our hands on.

Some of the other Chefs participating in this years Grow-Out include, Chef Peter Davis of Henrietta's Table,Chef Will Gilson, Garden at the Cellar,Peter Macarthy of EVOO,Jason Bond of Beacon Hill Bistro, Matt Gennuso of Chez Pascal in Providence and many more chefs dedicated to offering local sustainable cuisine whenever possible.

As I get more information on the vegetables we will be purchasing I will post as much information as I can, their history & facts and of course what we will be preparing with them.

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