“Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018!
The Suncoast Gleaning Project. “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018! Photo by Nicole Coudal
Chickens.  “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018!.  Photo by Nicole Coudal
“Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018!. Photo by Nicole Coudal
Local Sarasota Honey. “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018!.  Photo by Nicole Coudal
Local Sarasota Honey. Chickens. “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018! Photo by Nicole Coudal
Muscodine grapes“Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018! Photo by Nicole Coudal
Muscodine grapes“Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018! Photo by Nicole Coudal
Radishes. “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018! Photo by Nicole Coudal
Radishes. “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018! Photo by Nicole Coudal
Logo. “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018! Photo by Nicole Coudal
Logo. “Eat Local Week” is October 19-28, 2018!

"Eat Local Week" is October 19-28, 2018!

This 8th annual event is a great opportunity to go behind the scenes at local farms and attend events where you’ll learn about sustainable food systems throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Many of us have fond memories of school field trips when we got up close and personal with goats, fed chickens, and picked vegetables. Those were great opportunities to learn about where food came from, while meeting the families that grew it. As adults, most of us don’t have many chances to visit farms or hear from the folks who grow our food, so when an event comes around that allows us to do that, we should go!

Our region hosts many growers, each doing their part to provide us with nutritional products, but you may not even know about them. That’s why this annual “Eat Local Week” event organized by Transition Sarasota is so important. There will be more than 20 events ranging from educational to hands-on or just plain fun — opportunities to taste local food at farm-to-table dinners and festivals, tour farms, watch films, attend lectures in air-conditioned spaces, shake hands with farmers, and ask lots of questions. All you need is some free time, a small budget, endless curiosity, and a good appetite. 

Janet Lewis, Executive Director of Transition Sarasota, says “There's a delicious cornucopia of foods grown and produced in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. We’re so pleased to offer an event that provides neighbors a chance to see what’s happening in our local food system, learn how to grow their own, get to know local farmers and businesses, and develop stronger community connections.”

Events kick-off October 19 at Ringling College of Art & Design with keynote speaker Koreen Brennan, a permaculture designer and teacher. Permaculture is about well-planned spaces that promote sustainable practices like preserving water, using renewable sources, reducing and/or eliminating waste, and much more. She’ll also conduct a class on those principles and tour Bay Haven School’s food forest on October 20.

Returning this year are two popular events: Big Mama’s Collard Green Fest at the Newtown Farmer’s Market (October 20), and the Green Path Veterans Farm Dinner (October 26). At the Collard Green Fest, local chefs will serve up southern fare while competing for the coveted ‘Best Collard Greens Recipe’ award. It’s a family-friendly event that will also have Cajun, Creole and Caribbean music performed by local choirs and school groups.

The Veterans Farm to Table Dinner is a casual event that acts as a fundraiser to support local veterans, featuring veggies grown at the Green Path Veterans Farm, and meats and cheeses from surrounding farms. All in all, a wonderful chance to support veterans while enjoying delicious, locally-grown food. And if you can’t get enough of farm-to-table dinners, sign up for Ortygia’s event in the Village of the Arts on October 22 for flavors of Sicily made with local, in-season products.

Also returning is the popular tour of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Aquaculture Park on October 24, a time to learn about the largest facility of its kind in the U.S., and what goes into raising fish in a controlled environment. Note: Mote also hosts a film/panel discussion October 23 about sustainable U.S. seafood farming.

On October 22, Jessica’s Organic Farm hosts the 9th kickoff to the Suncoast Gleaning Project, where volunteers get a tour of the farm and start a new season of picking organic vegetables for All Faiths Food Bank which distributes it to food insecure populations in our community.

New to the event this year:

  • Grove Ladder Farm hosts a “Brunch in the Pasture” October 28 featuring dishes with their delectable eggs (from pasture-raised chickens) and pork and produce sourced from surrounding farms.
  • Sarasota Honey Company shares the life cycle of honey bees, along with tours of their new facility, plus honey products and locally sourced treats at their market, all on October 27.
  • If you’re redesigning your landscape or simply want new inspiration about plants that thrive in our Florida climate, take a drive out east to visit Florida Native Plant Nursery & Landscaping on October 28 where you’ll learn from experts about native, medicinal and/or edible plants.
  • JDub’s hosts one of their popular food truck rallies on October 20, a fun chance to try locally brewed beer and Kombucha, along with other tasty treats. And if you love rum, Siesta Key Rum’s distillery will be open October 27 for tours and tastings. 

Transition Sarasota is a nonprofit group focused on providing food and economic security to our community by supporting local, sustainable food sources. To learn more, and to see a full list of events for “Eat Local Week” visit TransitionSRQ.org. Many events are free; some require pre-registration and/or have nominal fees, so be sure to check each one.

Even if you’re not able to make the events, you can support local food efforts by shopping at one of our local farmers markets like Phillippi Farmhouse Market, Sarasota Farmers Market, Englewood Farmers Market, and Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton. Also, check out Dakin Dairy for local dairy products and fun tours, or Mixon Fruit Farms for fresh citrus, just to name a few.

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Nicole Coudal is a home chef and food writer based in southwest Florida, where she fishes and cooks using local ingredients. When not on the water, she visits farms, farmer’s markets, and other food-related venues to highlight what’s in-season and to create tasty recipes. Nicole is a regular contributor to Edible Sarasota, as well as, a frequent guest on ABC 7’s Suncoast View. Read more at www.MyDeliciousBlog.com.