Saturday is going to be a HOOT!

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media


“FarmOn! with Celebrity Chef Filled Charity Summer In New York’s Hudson Valley — Vongerichten, Bloomfield, Brock, Pelaccio” writes Larry Olmsted of


He continues, “If you ate today, thank a farmer. That’s the slogan of the FarmOn! Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit philanthropic organization launched in 2011 which in its own words, ‘strives to bring community awareness to food sources, reinvigorate a respect for farming to inspire youth and encourage careers in agriculture and help connect rural to urban marketplaces. By supporting succession on the farm and funding educational youth programs and experiences for the next generation of farmers, FarmOn! Foundation is working to preserve family farming in America. To help fund the organization she started, executive director Tessa Edick also created the Friends of the Farmer Festival, which has grown over recent years into a series of high profile celebrity chef and entertainment driven charity events. Whether or not you support FarmOn!’s ideals, if you love food, you might be interested in the delicious summer lineup.”


And this time of year — delicious it is! I ask everyone — who’s your farmer?


I eat 90 percent of my food from hundreds of local family farms. It’s convenient and it is affordable — because I value my health.


I’m healthy fit and happy, living a life connected to what I eat and the people that make it. What more do you need than food, water, air and love?


Skip the supermarket this summer and invest in taste, convenience, community, commerce, sustainability — and succession. It’s worth it.


FarmOn with a commitment to spending on local economies to re-establish rural to urban marketplaces and have a great time too! The 4th annual Hootenanny! Farm Fresh Benefit Dinner will take place this Saturday at the Copake Country Club and celebrates farmers as the real stars of food.


This Saturday is a very special meal with nearly 100 family farmers attending that will teach you about what they do for a living to feed us well. The farmer has been the best-kept secret of Chef Jean Georges for his entire career, he told me. As a Michelin-starred award winning celebrity, Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Hootenanny menu, sourced from Columbia County, is a rare opportunity to experience “farm to table” becoming farm to your table with the direction of Liz Neumark of Great Performances and Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm for catering.


Olmsted shared, “Hootenanny! is a fun-filled evening with a lakeside truly farm-to-table dinner — every single consumable comes from within 40 miles — with hosts including an array of area farmers. It begins with a Hudson Valley cheese course and happy hour featuring local beer, wine and spirits. Live music accompanies the multi-course meal, featuring spit-roasted meat. Whole Foods Market sponsors a golf cart drive-in movie, while silent and live auctions offer unique finds. The evening concludes with a bonfire sundae bar featuring poached local fruits and ice cream from nearby Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. The all-inclusive price is less than dinner at Jean-Georges, $150 per person.”


Last Friday, in a sold out show at Helsinki Hudson emceed by John Varvatos in support of FarmOn and the next generation, Lukas Nelson (son of Willie Nelson) sang “Diamonds on the souls of her shoes…” with his band Promise of the Real to kick off this series of summer events that benefit the FarmOn! Foundation while local talent Liana Gabel tap danced on stage and they played for three hours straight! Tommy Stinson dedicated his songs to farmers and his daughter Ruby Stinson gave a performance that makes any dad proud to raise his replacement. It was a real celebration of the family farm and resilient agriculture in the Hudson Valley. FarmOn! Hoedown was a huge success and will take place again in June of 2015.


If you didn’t make it to the Hoedown, come ‘n eat Saturday


at the HOOT! and in August check out what Olmsted calls “The Hudson Valley’s next big-name event, the Second Annual Northern Chefs Alliance Dinner on Aug. 17, hosted by Chef Zakary Pelaccio and his co-workers at Fish & Game restaurant in Hudson. The outdoor dinner will feature fire pits, smokers, grills and ice-cold cocktails on the 175-acre Fish & Game Farm, five minutes from the namesake restaurant. The event will showcase the bounty of the Hudson Valley, all cooked by Pelaccio and guest chefs such as April Bloomfield of Spotted Pig and The Breslin (NYC), Matt Jennings of Townsman (Boston), and Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk (Charleston and Nashville), along with five renowned Canadian counterparts, who will mingle with guests throughout the night. This event is organized by Pelaccio and company, but ticket sales ($250) proceeds benefit FarmOn! Foundation. Tickets to all of these events can be ordered through the Friendsofthefarmer .com site.”


It’s the best time of year to celebrate your farmer by eating local and spending your food dollars on the freshest food the Hudson Valley has to offer. Shop from farm stands, farm markets, the local section in your supermarket if you must, in a CSA or roadside — try freshly picked corn you can buy with the honor system — stop at the new Todd Hill TasteNY shop along the Taconic Parkway between NYC and Columbia County.


Who else rises each morning starting at 2:40 a.m. to make sure you eat?


Who else works tirelessly to care for animals keeping them comfortable, happy and healthy so our nutrition is maximized with premium quality food and best production practices possible to commit to sustainability much needed and mutually beneficial?


Who else invites us all behind the scenes into their food workplace and offers us transparency and a taste of the farm?


It’s hogwash the big business of processed and falsely labeled food claiming to feed you healthy with distribution from thousands of miles away. And it’s time to take matters into our own hands. It’s simple to do. Every day, once a day, eat one local ingredient in one of your meals and encourage everyone else you know to do the same. Eating organic food from far away sacrifices benefits your local food shed can provide. And you avoid paying trucks and fuel that keep food expensive, too.


Trust me, your local food awareness and sourcing are the key to changing what we are all offered to eat. Your demand impacts what the farmer grows. So make choices that matter and provide nutrition and wellness for our health, our schools and our communities and benefit the environment, too. What’s not to love? Love your farmer. You will feel great too. See you Saturday. FarmOn!


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