What an overwhelming success A Local MEAL turned out to be!!! When we started talking about this event, we envisioned perhaps an audience of 50 or so, most of whom we assumed would be friends and family. When guests starting arriving half an hour before the event was supposed to start, that was the first clue that we *might* have more folks than we initially expected. Indeed, it turned out to be ‘standing room’ only, with estimates that we had more than 200 people in attendance.
The food was amazing. Huge thanks to our volunteer chefs who were hiding out in the kitchen all night plating out a feast of delicious concoctions including stuffed baby potatoes, striploin beef, mussels with a blueberry vinagrette, pulled pork on potato slices, and panacotta on shortbread, to name but a few of the treats. Some folks have requested recipes for these culinary delights and we’re happy to oblige.
If I were to pinpoint one concrete part of the night as a highlight, it would have to be the speakers’ presentations. We had 9 speakers lined up to do Pecha Kucha presentations on topics they were passionate about, from eating in line with evolution, to the importance of organics, to connecting farmers and consumers, to the power of urban agriculture. Each and every presentation was phenomenal, and I could hardly believe it when the final talk was done. Time had flown by, and the audience had remained enraptured with the speakers. For those that missed the evening or those that want a replay, we’re delighted to be able to provide videos of all the speakers thanks to Nick’s awesome videography skills.
Eggs played a prominent part in the night. We kicked off the presentations with a special guest talk from Paul Offer, the gentleman who was told last week that he and his wife are not allowed to serve their B & B guests the free-range eggs from their farm because they are not inspected. His speech set the tone for the night. I loved his last line ‘when I go into a government bureaucrat’s office and cry, he asks me to leave, but when I go into my garden and cry tears, my garden thanks me for feeding it’ (or something like that!). At the end of the presentations, we thought it was quite apropos to give out door prizes…we had 10 dozen eggs to give away …free-range, un-inspected eggs!!
While I mentioned the tangible highlight of the evening was the presenters, the really amazing thing was the energy in the room. It was palpable (which, is, I suppose the same as tangible!). There was just so much positivity and enthusiasm, it was amazing! If I ever had a shadow of a doubt about whether the event was worth the efforts necessary to make it happen, they were obliterated last night! My mind is churning – what do we do next? where do we go from here? how to we harness that energy and keep the momentum going? how can we transform conversations and enthusiasm into concrete actions that will help move our local food system forward?
So many questions! And while the answers may not be clear yet, in the wake of last evening, I am left feeling quite confident that we will work our way towards those answers, that there are enough of us on this Island that care about building a strong, local food economy that we can move mountains, or at least rolling hills! So please, if you were at A Local MEAL or if you wanted to be there, consider that last night was not just a one-off event, but hopefully a part of something bigger, part of a growing community of people who do care about their food system. I talked with a number of farmers last night, and they all gave me really positive feedback about the event. One farmer said that he and other farmers had been doing local food promotion for many years, but A Local MEAL was something different, because it was eaters (aka consumers) who had decided to promote local food. We’re all in this together folks, we all have to eat to survive, so the stakes are high. Hold on to that energy that was abuzz in the Farm Centre last night, and we will progress.