Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Opening of the Greensboro Children's Museum Edible Schoolyard Events

All of the events are wrapping up and the excitement is ebbing away from the extreme high of Alice Waters' visit to Greensboro. I had the opportunity to attend three of the events over the last two days and each had its own flavor. (Some would say it was a pork flavor as that was served in one form or another at almost every event - which fits in with our local food palate - we are all about some hogs in North Carolina!)

The first event I was able to attend was the official groundbreaking at the Children's Museum. I brought along my daughter, Charlotte, as she loves the museum, and we went early so she'd get a chance to play for a bit first. She loves all of the interactive exhibits and I love the safe and creative environment they provide. Close to 4 pm we all moved outside for the ceremony and speeches.



On Thursday, the day of the Groundbreaking we had a sudden shift in the weather and it was 86 degrees and about 90% humidity. It was muggy, sunny and hot, Charlotte was antsy and I ended up sitting next to a beam in the barn area where I was attacked by a swarm of the tiniest ants I have ever seen crawling over my skin, so even I got squirmy. Luckily, my parents were on their way into town so they showed up right before the end of the speeches and took Charlotte back into the musuem to play. I was free then to mingle and talk with many of the grown-ups.


Both of the Locavore Makeover families made it to the event. I was able to introduce Kim and Tammy to Steve Tate, owner of The Goat Lady Dairy. Kim had met Steve's wife, Lee, at the Farmer's Market the weekend before so it was a great time to talk. Steve is such an incredible farmer and advocate for local and sustainable foods. He was one of the founding leaders of the Piedmont Triad Slow Food Convivium (they call them Chapters now, but I still prefer convivium!) along with my other permaculture hero, Charlie Headington.

Alice graciously agreed to a book signing, which was housed back in the air-conditioned museum (Thank God!). I had purchased another copy of Alice's The Art of Simple Food for my sister and was able to get it signed. And both the Locavore families got their picture made with Alice. The Museum photographer, Abigail Seymour, got those shots and hopefully we'll have them posted (and framed) later. I was able to give Alice the briefest idea of the project at the book signing table during the photo op and she said she'd look forward to hearing more whereupon I said I would see her on Friday morning at the Farmer's Market Breakfast event.
Friday morning dawned and I was up and out at 6:55 am to meet Betsy Grant, the Children's Museum Director, for the Breakfast. We were all alone setting up tables in the greyish, reddish dawn. We just knew it couldn't rain on our parade! The caterers and volunteers started arriving just before 8 am for the 9 am breakfast. We had coffee from a new local coffee roaster (he has a stall at the downtown Curb Market and I have lost his card in the mess that has become my car and home), bread from Simple Kneads, granola made by the Granola Lady who also sells at the Curb Market, cheese spreads and goat yogurt provided by the Goat Lady Dairy and local NC apples mixed with goat cheese and wrapped in locally sourced apple smoked bacon and grilled onto skwers provided by the Ganache Bakery. (This was the start of a porkie day!)
Alice sat right next to me during the breakfast portion of the event and I was able to give her a copy of the opening page of the blog with the link on it. I was able to tell her more about what we are doing. She was thrilled with the idea and made a comment that it is projects such as ours that will help change the whole system. Admittedly, I was without a recorder so I am paraphrasing here, but she was saying to me how important it was that we were actually doing something and not just talking about it. I was very touched and I thanked her for her supportive words. I was also able to talk with Marsha Guerrero, the Edible Schoolyard Director in Berkely, CA. She also got a copy of the blog page and it is so fantastic to think that they may follow what we are doing or tell others about it! They are both inspiring leaders who are setting the example of doing instead of just talking.

I then went to work and found out about an immediate project goal that I will have to meet. It will interfere with a bit of my progress on the project for the next week or two, but I have lots of editorial blogs (I write in the middle of the night when I can't sleep) to keep you entertained in the interim and I have been planning to include more recipes and rearrange some of the tips to make the blog easier to navigate anyway. So, you won't be left without new content.
My day ended magically as I was able to attend the fundraising dinner that evening at the Levy's house in Greensboro. I met some great Museum supporters and got to see old friends like Michelle Novack and Margaret Neff, both with the Piedmont Triad Slow Food Chapter. The food was fabulous and local. The menu was dominated by a slow cooked smoked Ossabaw pig which was served in the traditional Southern pulled pork style. The richness of the smokey overtones and the tenderness developed in a pasture raised pig made this easily one of the most unique and delicious pork dishes I have ever eaten. I also indulged in more than a few bacon wrapped goose breast appetizers (ramaki), NC wild caught shrimp with a variety of NC tomato salsas and gazpacho shooters. There were corn husk appetizers filled with a corn pudding and cucumber tadziki style sauce that were eaten by sqeezing and sucking. I had some divine pickled okra - a true NC delight! There were local cheeses from both the Goat Lady dairy and my friends at Celebrity Dairy. The wine was organic and biodynamic, but from Spain and France, which surprised me, but it was wonderful. Other local beverages included Natty Green's Beer and Foggy Ridge Pippin Apple Brandy. I know Diane Flynt, the cider maker from Foggy Ridge - (note to self: that would be a great field trip!).

We all left with a collection of index card sized recipes of some of the selected items served and thanks to all those involved in making this Alice Waters visit so wonderful. But attached to the card collection was a linen wrapped item and I just opened it this morning. Inside are two dirt/clay balls that I feel certain must be from the Children's Musueum Groundbreaking, but I will ask Betsy next week and let you know. Either way I have some clods of dirt to remind me of the mission - all our food comes from the earth and we need to respect it and treat it well!

I didn't manage to talk further with Alice at the evening event and I was fine with that as there were so many people at this dinner that weren't at the other venues that I felt I should let them have their turn. It was enough to be in the presense of so many people who believe in the value of eating locally and teaching our children how to feed their bodies and spirits with real food made from scratch. I am still relishing the moments... but now on to those other work projects... or maybe I should start by making a quick local lunch instead.

Eat well and be well!
Anne-Marie



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