Just like , tickets to the Farm Fresh Rhode Island Local Food Fest 2011 were sold out again this year. The annual culinary event, which takes place at , celebrates Rhode Island farmers, fishermen, food producers and chefs. All of the vegetables, fruit, herbs, eggs, meats, and fish served were harvested from Rhode Island fields and waters, and each year benefits go towards Farm Fresh Rhode Island.
The event began by honoring the visionary leaders of the Wholesome Wave Foundation, including Nell Newman, Co-Founder of Newman’s Own Organics and Chairwoman of Wholesome Wave, Michel Nischan, President of Wholesome Wave and Chief Proprietor of the Dressing Room, and Gus Schumacher, Executive Vice President of Wholesome Way and former USDA Under Secretary. The organization was founded four years ago and is dedicated to increasing fresh food access in low-income communities. Every day at farmers markets in the 26 states Wholesome Wave programs enable the lower-income families to buy fresh food and while supporting local farmers. The Connecticut-based organization is also a lead funder of Farm Fresh programs in Rhode Island and is helping change the way residents eat.
The theme for the evening was getting to know local farmers and who grows the food local communities eat. By supporting local farmers markets in Rhode Island, not only are residents getting fresh, healthy food, but it also means that it doesn’t have to come from miles away.
“We’ve participated in this food fest for a number of years and it’s a great event,” said Karla Simmons, owner of Simmons Farm in Middletown.
Her products were used in Castle Hill’s dish “Simmons Farm Spare Rib Terrine with Goat Cheese and Pickled Vegetables” which consisted of a crostini slices of pasteurized pork, farmstead chevre, and summer squash. Simmons Farm also donated a cheesemaking farm tour to the silent auction, which also benefited Farm Fresh Rhode Island.
Newport resident Kyle Hence, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Ring-REVOLUTION, said that this was his first year attending the food fest. The mission of his organization is to inspire, implement and celebrate a global food revolution that fully responds to the needs of hundreds of millions around the world, which include the hungry, malnourished, obese and those looking to their communities for solutions.
“There isn’t anything more important and fundamental than food,” Hence said. “Rhode Island needs to continue to support our local food growers and producers.”
In addition to Simmons Farm, other Aquidneck Island participants included Aquidneck Farms, Aquidneck Honey, Greenvale Vineyards, Newport Vineyards, , Thomas Tew Rum, and Rhode Island Nurseries. Aquidneck Island chefs included Jonathan Cambra of Castle Hill, Brian Mansfield of Newport Restaurant Group, Jake Rojas of , and David Ostroff of .
The fest also participated in a “100% Compostable Evening,” sponsored by EcoRI and Whole Foods. All of the waste from the evening will be composted back into Rhode Island healthy soils at Earth Care Farm in Charlestown. This includes not just the food scraps, but the biodegradable dinnerware, which was donated by Whole Foods.
Marie Cuccia, Director of Sales at Castle Hill, said that the benefit is hosted by Castle Hill around the same time each year.
“We’ve hosted for the past couple of years and it usually takes place around the first week of August,” she said.