COLUMBIA — Arnie and Callie stand in front of Fay Street Lofts and wait to welcome food enthusiasts to Appeteazer, one of two annual fundraising events for Sustainable Farms & Communities. The two pace back and forth. Occasionally, one of them brays.
Arnie and Callie are goats, brought to the event by Mike Knoll from Bonne Femme Farm. The pair was meant to “bring little bit of the farm into the city,” Knoll said.
The Appeteazer event was held to preview the Taste of the Market Event scheduled for Aug. 7, as well as to raise money for a permanent pavilion and education center to house the Columbia Farmers' Market.
John Turchiano was one person who stopped to grab two handfuls of feed before going inside. This was not the Columbia resident’s first experience with the animals; he owned one as a petwhile in medical school and later gave it to a farmer.
The room with the most people inside the Woodruff Sweitzer Building was home to three tables’ worth of food for attendees, all made with ingredients purchased from the market. Dishes included sandwiches, pies, hummus and several dishes featuring tomatoes and mozzarella.
An auction was held with prizes, including the chance to be a sous chef or judge for an Iron Chef competition at next month’s Taste of the Market Event. Mark Mahnken* of Missouri Legacy Beef served as auctioneer and offered to throw in some beef from his farm for one of the prizes.
“Do you understand what we’re doing? We’re talking about a good time!” he said to entice bidders, who seemed hesitant at first.
Turchiano was one of the winners. He and Nick Twenter wrote a check for $900 in exchange for the opportunity to both sit as judges for the Iron Chef competition.
Sustainable Farms & Communities needs to raise $2.5 million more to meet the construction costs for the pavilion and education center.
In addition to obtaining funding for the pavilion, the group is also focusing on a project to make it easier for people to purchase local foods. The Access to Healthy Foods Fund will allow people to redeem food stamps for double their value at the Columbia Farmers Market.
Some vendors will also offer additional discounts for people in the program, said Casey Corbin, executive director for Sustainable Farms & Communities. The difference in money collected will be made up by donations from individuals and businesses in the community.
Corbin hopes the program will be able to start this summer with 50 clients and will eventually be expanded to run yearround through grocery stores that sell local produce.