Meet the Producers at the Swaner EcoCenter
Many people find it easy to get nostalgic with food.
One bite of a favorite family dish can take them back to holiday gatherings, birthdays or other special events.
But Ken Kullack, owner of A Local Table, an online local-gourmet-food distributor, gets nostalgic with food in a different way.
"Once upon a time, everyone knew where their food came from because they bought it from the local farmers," Kullack said during an interview with The Park Record. "People know where the beef and cheese came from because the producers were right around the corner."
These days, many people buy food at grocery stores that ship in their meats and produce from thousands of miles away, he said.
To show Park City and Summit County residents that good meals on their tables don’t have to be made from food that has traveled across the country, Slow Food and the Swaner EcoCenter will present the fourth annual Meet the Producers on Monday, March 24.
Slow Food Park City is a nonprofit organization dedicated, in part, to promoting the buy-local movement that connects local producers to consumers, Kullack said.
Meet the Producers is a three-hour, community-supported agriculture event where the public will get to meet local farmers, ranchers, bakers and other artisan producers.
"They will learn about options for locally and sustainably produced fruit, meat, cheese, vegetables, bread and even herbal tea," said Kullack, the event marketing leader for Meet the Producers.
"We want people to understand and get to know some of the local food makers in this area," he explained. "That way they will be mindful of that when they go to the store or a farmer’s market."
Another goal of the event is to help the public develop a deeper connection to the food they eat.
"That happens when you talk to people who provide the food you use or buy," he said. "Through that, we would like to get more people excited about buying locally- made products."
Kullack also wants to show that the quality of local foods can stand up to the quality of foods made in other countries.
"I think it is great that people can make the choice of buying cheese that’s made in Italy or one that is made in Utah and finding out the one made locally is just as good," he said.
This year, Kullack has invited some new producers to introduce themselves.
One will be Mololo Gardens, a family-owned, organic farm in Salt Lake City.
"We’re excited to have them with us, because they will be at Canyons during the summer for the Park City Farmer’s Market," Kullack said.
Another is Heritage Valley Poultry, a free-range chicken, turkey, duck and rabbit range that is located in Northern Utah.
"This is really great for us because people have heard of Summit County Beef or Morgan Valley Lamb, and now we’re going to have a poultry producer," he said. "That kind of rounds out the meat producers."
Next year, Kullack plans to rotate in some other new producers.
"Last year we had Paisley Farms that raises pork and Canyon Meadows Ranch that raises livestock," he said. "So we want to give others an opportunity to become a part of the event."
Finding producers for the event is a two-fold process.
"First off, we’ve had producers approach us to say they were interested in participating," Kullack explained. "Then there is an application process after that, because we can’t just accept everyone. So we will look at how much they source ingredients locally."
Sometimes the definition of local can vary.
"We try to keep to producers who are in Utah," he said.
Secondly, Slow Food Park City will send people out to look for producers.
"We do a lot of research and talk with people and reach out to them," said Kullack, who is also the owner of A Local Table, a Park City-based, online gourmet-food business that sells and promotes locally-produced foods.
"I also have that to our advantage," he said. "I will get in touch with my connections through A Local Table. Since we look for new producers that we want to promote through our website (http://www.alocaltable.com ). So I can connect them with Slow Food Park City."
Some of the non-farming producers who will offer samples of their wares Monday include local cheese makers and preserve makers.
"These preserve makers use all natural ingredients, and in most cases forage their own ingredients and use little or no sugar," Kullack said. "I think we’re starting to get a pretty good variety of producers involved with the event."
Last year, Meet the Producers drew more than 600 people, so some adjustments were made for this year.
"Swaner is a beautiful centralized location and perfect fit for this event, but the space is a little more limited," Kullack said. "So we extended the hours to three hours from two hours."
adding an hour, Kullack feels that attendees won’t feel rushed.
"The comment we heard was that some people didn’t have time to talk with the farmers and producers," he said.
Another change will be the setup.
"Last year we had areas where people could sample soups from local chefs who use local ingredients, so we, with input from the some of the chefs, are creating a tasting lounge this year," Kullack said. "We will move that to the back of the building, where it will overlook the preserve."
The move will not only give the chefs a beautiful place to serve their samples, but also provide the Swaner EcoCenter staff and volunteers an opportunity to introduce more people to its mission and activities.
"We love working with the Swaner because it also has a mission about sustainability," Kullack explained. "We’ll be in a better position to accommodate more people, and to give them more of a chance to interact with these producers."
Slow Food Park City will present Meet the Producers at the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr. at Kimball Junction, on Monday, March 24, from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.swanerecocenter.org/education-calendar/calendar.html.
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