Eat Local Month kicks off Saturday

Thursday, June 5, 2014 | 7:39 p.m. CDT; updated 10:33 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 5, 2014

COLUMBIA — Locavores sinking their teeth into local fare will get a shot at winning a $100 gift card to spend at the Columbia Farmers' Market this month.

The Locavore Challenge is part of what Mayor Bob McDavid and the Boone County Commission have proclaimed "Eat Local Month," which takes place throughout June and celebrates the city's urban agriculture and increased demand for local foods.

Upcoming Events

Potluck dinner

  • When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, 1207 Smith St.

Kickoff event

  • When: 9 a.m. Saturday
  • Where: Columbia Farmers' Market, 1701 W. Ash St.

Farm-to-table Dinner

  • When: 4:15 p.m. June 22
  • Where: Blue Bell Farm, 3030 Highway 240, Fayette, MO 65248

The kickoff event will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Columbia Farmers' Market at 1701 W. Ash St. The mayor will be present for the event, Corrina Smith, market manager for the farmers market, said.

The monthlong campaign encourages residents to think more like a locavore — someone who consumes food products grown or produced within 50 miles of their home, according to Eat Local Columbia's website.

"I think it's a useful promotion to help people realize how bountiful the local production system is," Kenneth Pigg, chair of Sustainable Farms & Communities, said. "There's a lot of stuff marketed through regular retail events, but people don't always read the label and realize it comes from local producers."

The challenge encourages participants to make their own food, visit local farms and markets and share locavore knowledge with others. First prize will be a $100 gift card for the winner to spend at the market. Other prizes are still being arranged, Pigg said.

Details about the challenge are posted online. People who want to participate can print the form, check off completed items as they go and turn in a hard copy to the SF&C stall at the farmers market, Pigg said.

With all of the events and activities planned by numerous supporters, it made the most sense to make the celebration a month long, Smith said.

"We were originally going to do a week, but between us, SF&C and other organizations, we all have things going on throughout the month," she said.

Billy Polansky, general manager of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, said June is the ideal time for the celebration because the growing season has begun and there's plenty of fresh produce, meat and cheese available at this time of year.

"It's a time of year when there's a lot of excitement; the weather's getting warmer, people are outside thinking about gardening and coming to the farmers markets again," he said.

Another benefit, he said, is that the growing season is still ahead.

"We want people to get more exposure to local food now," Polansky said. "Hopefully people who weren't exposed before will have the opportunity to get more involved eating local food."

At the kickoff event Saturday, the Boone County Extension Center will present a workshop on food preservation, and there will be food and nutrition-based activities for kids, Pigg said.

Eat Local Columbia posted a calendar of events to provide residents with ways and ideas to become more involved with Eat Local Month.

Some upcoming events include a potluck dinner and a "farm-to-table" dinner. The potluck dinner will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture at 1207 Smith St. The farm-to-table dinner will be at 4:15 p.m. June 22 at Blue Bell Farm, 3030 Highway 240 in Fayette.

"You get to meet the farmers, see the food that was grown, sit out on a farm on a beautiful day and enjoy a meal that's grown well and cooked well," Polansky said of the farm-to-table dinner. "It's a full-circle experience."

Polansky also cited volunteer opportunities for residents to get more involved with local growing.

There's a volunteer workday for Kilgore's Community Garden from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday at Kilgore's Pharmacy on Providence Road, he said. Volunteers can drop in any week, no sign-up necessary.

Outside of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, volunteers can partake in a monthly "crop mob."

"They'll help a farmer with a project," Polansky said. 'They get a whole bunch of people to do a big project that would be really hard to do by yourself, and afterward everyone sits down and eats a big meal together."

The impact of locally grown food spreads beyond the dinner table. Last year, vendors at the farmers market estimated contributing more than $1 million into the regional economy from their sales, Pigg said.

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