Feast to fete local, sustainable food

Area groups want residents to look close to home for eats

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter



Aside from complaining about the rain, most people don’t give too much thought to the change of seasons, let alone what it means for food.

Why would you when you can buy strawberries in December at the grocery store?

If you go

• What: Three-course seasonal feast.

• When: 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

• Where: Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters, 703 Grand Blvd., Vancouver.

• Cost: $25, plus $1 processing fee when purchased at http://www.discov.... Tickets also are available at Paper Tiger.

• Information: Online at http://www.myurba... and http://www.discov...

• What: Urban Abundance planning forum.

• When: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16.

• Where: The Portal at Vancouver Vineyard Church, 1207 East Reserve St.

• Information: Online at http://www.myurba...

Three groups are combining their efforts to convince Clark County residents to choose local and seasonal food. Their method involves celebration, not scolding. They will host an autumnal feast with two seatings — 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. — Friday at Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters at 703 Grand Blvd. in Vancouver. Tickets are $25 each.

It was natural for Lower Columbia Alliance for Living Sustainably (known as LOCALS), Slow Food Southwest Washington and Urban Abundance to collaborate, organizers said.

“We have the same vision: educating people about supporting local food and restaurants that use local food,” said Monique Dupre of LOCALS.

While LOCALS was looking to organize occasional dinners, Urban Abundance was looking to celebrate its first harvest season.

Warren Neth launched Urban Abundance, a part of Slow Foods Southwest Washington, in June. Among other activities, the group gleans fruit from neighborhood trees to donate to local food banks.

Jodell Hinojosa of Jo Foody’s will cater the event. Because everything will be fresh and local, Hinojosa isn’t sure what will be on the menu yet. Diners will be able to choose either a meat or a vegetarian meal. Hinojosa is working on obtaining poultry for the carnivores’ plates. Diners can probably also expect winter squash, root vegetables, dark greens. She also plans a salad, probably with some sort of fruit.

Before dinner, Hinojosa will talk about developing relationships with local farmers, Paper Tiger’s proprietors will talk about where they get their coffee. And Emily Jameson will offer a digital presentation about Urban Abundance’s first year harvesting the urban orchard.

Urban Abundance’s work goes beyond gleaning, however. The group hosts seed-ball-making workshops, sends schoolchildren to interview older generations about how food was produced in the past, and hopes to plant nut and fruit trees in city parks.

On Nov. 16, just a few days after the dinner event, Urban Abundance will host a planning forum. A local historian will speak about the first settlers’ food system. Plus, participants will have a chance to share stories about their own kitchen gardens, which they can mark on a map of the four neighborhoods that converge at Fourth Plain and Grand boulevards. Neth lives in one of those neighborhoods — Harney Heights— himself, although he grew up on a Ridgefield farm.

“My family has been doing some form of agriculture for five generations,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like there’s many opportunities for making a life in agriculture anymore. How can we honor that past and figure out ways to open up new agricultural opportunities for new generations?”

The answer lies in redefining agriculture to include urban settings, he said. “I think we’re going to have to have more of that as gas prices increase and the food system changes.”

He and the other organizers of Friday’s event see no reason that hard work can’t begin with a fun evening over a shared meal.