Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great times at the first annual Winter Park Harvest Festival

Last Saturday I attended the first annual Winter Park Harvest Festival in Winter Park, Florida with Simple Living Institute. I would call this harvest festival a huge success. The main goal of this harvest festival was to connect consumers to the farms and farmers that grow locally and organically, as well as to encourage citizens to grow organically themselves. The festival was held in the beautiful Central Park on Park Ave. in Winter Park. This turned out to be a great venue for the event. The city of Winter Park had already placed an ice skating rink adjacent to the festival, which was a great family recreational addition. Inside the harvest festival one could find many vendors selling locally and organically produced foods and herbs, as well as local artisans, and even face painting for the kids. There was several local blugrass bands including the Token Gamblers and Jubal's Kin. Inside the main tent were speakers on food and health related issues. At the main tent at the other end of the festival there were speakers on organic farming and gardening methods. Weeks before the festival, grow boxes were distributed throughout the Central Florida community for citizens to grow organic foods and herbs in. These grow boxes were all gathered and set up artistically inside the festival as a showcase for these local growers. These grow boxes were also a part of a contest for which grow box was the most appealing. Ribbons were distributed to the winners, most of whom were elementary school students. It was nice to see the excitement from the children involved. The food was amazing. There were vendors such as Wild Ocean Seafood serving up the freshest sustainably caught seafood from Port Canaveral, FL. There were cooking demonstrations in the adjacent Williams and Sonoma store, purveyors of fine dining and cookware. The festival also brought together some of the finest chefs from local area restaurants and fine dining establishments in order to showcase their culinary talents. The movie Fresh was played at sundown, which is a very eye-opening film about factory farming practices and where most common food comes from and what is in it. The film also showcases farmers that use organic practices and what organic farming really means. To top off the evening, in the main tent, the best local chefs prepared a four-course fresh local organic meal along with wine and garden mojitos. The meal was outstanding. Some of the best food that I have ever tasted. According to a speaker who is a local doctor for a living, we need to have these harvest festivals more often than annually, maybe even quarterly, for the benefit of our community's overall health. I would tend to agree. If you did not make it out to our first annual winter Park Harvest Festival, be sure to make it out to next year's.

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