Photo: Scott Sporleder
Even if you can’t make it to one of The Ecology Center’s Community Table or Green Feast farm-to-table dinners, there are many ways to experience the magic of gathering people together and sharing seasonal food.
Source Your Ingredients Locally
Challenge yourself to source ingredients that are within 250 miles of you. Start with the basics (fruit, veggies, and bread) and branch out towards the more challenging staples (olive oil, dairy, and sweeteners). There are many great web resources like Local Harvest that will help you discover purveyors by zip code or ingredient. There, you can also find a listing of your local farmer’s markets.
Joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) is another great way to experience the seasons through produce. Search for a local CSA here.
Plan a Menu
The farmer’s market will be your first inspiration. Browse your local market to see what is in season and begin to set a theme for your menu. Speak to local farmers, purveyors, and sellers and ask them what they’re most excited about that week. Need a little more inspiration? Websites like Pinterest, All Recipes, and Epicurious will help you land on a few dishes that compliment your core ingredients.
Set the Scene
The entire tablescape is an opportunity for thoughtful and conscious sourcing. Many local college fine art departments have seasonal ceramic sales where you can pick up vases and dishware made by students. Monthly art walks and artisan markets are another resource for picking up hand crafted goods directly from the maker.
What about flowers? California requires all flowers sold at farmers’ markets are from a grower, not reseller. Better yet, forage everything you need for centerpieces from your garden. Herbs, potted plants, and succulents make beautiful, unique additions. To create a soft glow after sunset, source local candles. Many local beekeepers make them using honeycomb, making them both gorgeous and responsible.
Composting at home is simple and has a huge positive impact on both your garden’s soil health, and the greater community. Make the most of nutrient-rich food waste from your meal prep while reducing the amount of organic waste going to landfills.
Don’t forget about the soaps, cleaners and detergents that you’re using to clean up. There are a lot of simple recipes for natural, chemical-free cleaners that help you cut back on packaging waste and harmful synthetic chemicals and toxins. For a non-toxic purchase, look for castile vegetable-based soaps. They’re biodegradable and won’t contaminate ground water.
Share your efforts with your community! Telling the story of the local family farm and the neighborhood baker can paint a picture, and shed light on the interconnectedness at play throughout the loving meal you have created.
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