Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Farm-to-Pub model in action!

I'm really looking forward to volunteering at the ACORN Conference again, this year it's being held at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton, March 10-12. 

As I've mentioned in past posts, it's a pretty amazing weekend for anyone interested in growing food on any scale. I'm especially looking forward to hearing Chef Vergen's keynote talk at the organic Banquet on Friday (March 11th, just over 2 weeks away!). As Executive Chef of the Saint John Ale House and a farmer in one of Quispamsis, New Brunswick’s last standing farms, he's a Maritime pioneer of the farm-to-table food model. Trained in classical French cooking, and seasoned with years of experience in fancy restaurants in BC, Quebec, and Paris, he returned to New Brunswick to get back to basics.

 “I grew up in a little log cabin in the woods. It was the 1970s and my folks were back to the land-ers.” That’s where chef Vergen’s love affair — we might even go so far as to call it obsession — with the freshest of fresh ingredients, began.

For more on Chef Vergen's farm to pub perspective, check out this article. Or this one.
 ACORN will also be holding an organic community day on Saturday, and I'd encourage anyone who can be in Fredericton and is interested in organic food, to attend. There's a special pass for all 6 community day workshops for only $25, which include home canning and sprouting, GMOs, seed saving, and growing apples, plus our Seedy Saturday seed-swapping/sale event (a great success last year in PEI!), and entrance to the Trade Show. This is a great place to get organic, open-pollinated seeds for the spring, find out about new varieties of veggies, neat tools, and lots of advice, information, and new ideas.

The banquet, happening Friday night, is in it's 11th year and it always sells out. This year's mouth watering menu, featuring food sourced entirely from Maritime organic farmers: 

Potato-Garlic Soup (potatoes from Five Tier Farm and  garlic from Hope Seeds)
Beef Roast (1784 Slipp Farms Ltd) with gravy
Vegetable-Barley Pilaf
Herb Roasted Potatoes  (Five Tier Farm)
Tuscan Risotto with Squash (TapRoot Farms)
Carrots and Turnip 
(Red Soil Organics)
(Red Soil Organics)
(Gerry Gallant) & Cranberry (Springbrook Cranberries) Crisp with whipped cream

Tickets are $30/each. Everyone is welcome to attend! 1-866-322-2676 or click here to download a full Conference registration form (Banquet registration included).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Time, gentlemen

Some of you may have heard Ann Wroe, obituaries editor for The Economist, interviewed on the CBC about her eloquent "elegy for the English pub." The old fashioned English pubs,  icons of Englishness itself, are shutting their doors at an alarming rate of 50 a day, or 6000 in the last 5 years! Some friends had dropped off a copy of the magazine a while back, and I'd meant to post something on it, but had forgotten until I heard her on the radio last night. When a pub dies, Wroe writes, much more dies with it. Here are a few excerpts that get at how a good pub serves its community, and a link to the full article at the bottom.

The church can go, long since the preserve of a flower-arranging few; the local shop can go, since the distant hypermarket’s cheapness is worth the petrol; but the vanishing of a pub means, by common consent, the loss of the beating heart of a community, in town or countryside. A pub can become a sort of encapsulation of place, containing some small turning’s grainy photographs, its dog-eared posters for last year’s fete, its snoozing cats, its prettiest girls behind the bar and its strangest characters in front of it. The Square & Compass at Worth Matravers in Dorset, on the Jurassic Coast, has accumulated so many fossils brought in by punters that it has its own little museum. Most longstanding pubs have a fossil equivalent, and not merely on the human side: cases of moths, dusty farm implements or, at the Widow’s Son in Bromley-by-Bow, a hanging bundle of blackened hot-cross buns to which, every Good Friday for 150 years, another has been added.