Feast Celebrates Local Agriculture

It wasn’t that long ago that few urban or suburban dwellers gave much thought to where the peppers, potatoes, chicken or ham on their plates came from. If asked, many of them would simply answer “the store” and have no information beyond that.

In the past few years, though, that’s begun to change. People are paying more attention to where and how their food is produced as we try to limit our exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, and attempt to aid our communities.

The South River/Machar Agricultural Society (SRMAS), based in South River, ON, has been promoting local farmers and food producers for 131 years. On August 17 the volunteer run organization held their Savour the Season 100 Mile Dinner to give people a taste of fresh fare offered by 20 farmers and producers in the area.

The goal of SRMAS is to “showcase rural and agricultural lifestyle and activities within our community,” and in the past they’ve had up to 80 volunteers come together to spread the word at their events. SRMAS has hosted a maple harvest celebration, planted seeds with local school children and even brought chicks into schools on a regular basis so children can have an understanding of the growth process.

While their annual fall fair is their largest event, Savour the Season was also a massive undertaking. Three professional chefs got together to prepare a five course feast for the 112 attendees. Wide arrays of locally produced foods were featured. The event’s menu included deviled farm eggs, shitake mushrooms on potato pancakes, oxtail and minestrone soups, microgreens garnished with edible flowers, pastured chicken in a raspberry compote, maple glazed and smoked ham, and prime rib with honeyed carrots. The beer and wine available with dinner were also produced locally, as was dessert.

SRMAS volunteer Suzanne Learn says they publicized the repast with newspaper ads, word of mouth, social media and posters.  Foodland Ontario helped sponsor the event, and their backing helped pay for ads, as well as the food that went into creating the fabulous meal. Learn adds that even someone new to planning a major meal can come out on top with a bit of help.

“This is our first time ever planning an event like this,” she states, “but my advice would be to delegate as much as possible, keep organized and tap into local resources,” to help the preparation along.