Mouthful

Farm to Fork tickets on sale

aweigl@newsobserver.comApril 25, 2012 

"Martha's American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation's Most Treasured Dishes, from Coast to Coast" by Martha Stewart.

Tickets for the annual Farm to Fork picnic went on sale this week.

You may notice that ticket prices have increased from $60 to $100. Organizers have decided to increase the price for this one-of-a-kind culinary event to raise more money for the cause: supporting young farmer training programs in North Carolina.

They cite this fact: The average age of farmers is 59.

“It’s very important to maintain our capacity to produce food locally and regionally,” says Nancy Creamer, executive director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. “Who is going to do that farming for us?”

CEFS, along with Orange County and Slow Food Triangle, helps organize the annual Farm to Fork picnic. Its farm apprentice program at its small farm unit in Goldsboro is one of the beneficiaries. The apprenticeship program trains young farmers for at least eight months on how to run a small-scale diversified organic farm.

The other beneficiary is PLANT, a farm incubator program at Orange County’s Breeze Farm. It not only trains young farmers in sustainable agriculture, but also offers land to those in the program – land that has already been tilled, has irrigation and deer fencing.

One farmer who benefited from the Breeze Farm training is David Heeks, 37, of Durham. “For me, it was really beneficial to be able to drop in on a piece of land that was already ready,” Heeks says. “I only had to start planting.”

Heeks, who specializes in winter vegetables and sells at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, spent two years farming at the Breeze Farm. By not having to pay for land, he could use his profits to buy tools, seeds, a trailer with a cooler and a greenhouse. Heeks has since moved onto three leased acres in Rougemont, but he says the Breeze Farm program helped him get his business off the ground.

If you have never been, the Farm to Fork picnic pairs local farmers with local chefs; the farmers provide the ingredients and the chefs create the dishes. In a field next to the Breeze Farm, there’s a semicircle of tailgating tents where farmers and chefs stand side by side serving food. There are wine and local beer. There are tables and chairs or bales of hay to sit down and eat. It is a who’s who of the Triangle culinary scene.

To purchase tickets, go to www.farmtoforknc.com.

Enter to win Martha Stewart’s latest cookbook

OK, Martha Stewart fans: This is your chance to win a copy of her latest cookbook, “Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasured Dishes from Coast to Coast.”

You know the drill: Go to the blog: blogs.newsobserver.com/Mouthful. Leave a comment below the post about the giveaway before noon May 4. I’ll pick a winner at random. Good luck!

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