BY JENEE GREGOR
A day filled with locally sourced food and the community that makes it happen is nearing. An event based around education, involvement and community, Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence Building is holding the Local Food Summit on Feb. 15 with the theme of “Local Food For Everyone.” This event is based around strengthening the connection to a more sustainable food system.
The food summit is put on by Slow Food Huron Valley, who is also responsible for the HomeGrown Food Festival in September each year. Slow Food is an international organization that spreads their manifesto to detach from the “fast life,” and begin the defenses at the dinner table with Slow Food – referring to food grown with care, being ethically and locally sourced.
Caitlin Dickinson, 27, a co-chair of the planning committee for the Local Food Summit and member of the board of directors for Slow Food Huron Valley said, “Good, clean and fair food,” when asked about the premise of the organization.
Dickinson mentioned the new additions for this year consisting of adding a panel and moderator, a community building exercise, and also the Youth Track for the second year.
“Another thing that we are trying to make happen is to have a community building exercise with everyone that’s in attendance,” Dickinson said. “The idea is to have some sort of a proposal from the community on an issue that needs to be resolved or something that needs brain power.”
A keynote panel will be introduced this year with a goal of education through different perspectives in the local food movement.
“We’d really like to work on increasing participation in the food system,” Dickinson said.
Youth Track, which is geared toward ages 5-17, teaches kids about where their food comes from, and to appreciate the connection to local food at a young age. Added to the Local Food Summit last year, this year is being run by volunteers Nathan Wells and Erika Shaver. Wells said there were about 12 children of ranging ages last year, but they are hoping for 20 -25 kids, so they have planned activities to give them choices.
The Local Food Summit and Slow Food Huron Valley are both completely volunteer-run organizations, where in a year, up to 100 volunteers take part in events like this, and the Homegrown Food Festival.
“Our community is very engaged in community building,” said Jason Frenzel, a co-chair for the Local Food Summit planning committee. “It allows the Summit to continue to be vibrant year after year.”
“I’m always excited to see something we’ve been calling ‘Local Food Victories’,” said Shannon Brines, president of Slow Food Huron Valley.
As well as anticipation of the food at the event; Dickinson, Frenzel and Brines all mentioned their excitement for the food provided for breakfast and lunch at the summit, which is mostly donated from local farms and vendors, showcasing the taste of the movement.
Nearly 60-80 people will be involved volunteering at the actual event on Feb. 15, and Washtenaw Community College is sponsoring the event which allows students to be able to attend at a lower cost, either by scholarship or by volunteering for a discount or free access.
Registration has begun, and if interested visit www.localfoodsummit.org and apply for a Local Food Summit ticket scholarship. Tickets range from free – $40, depending on involvement. The event starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.