Swaner EcoCenter to host Community Supported Agriculture event | ParkRecord.com

Swaner EcoCenter to host Community Supported Agriculture event

The Community Supported Agriculture Utah’s Meet the Producers Event will feature more than 30 locally-grown produce and livestock farmers displaying and selling their foods at the Swaner EcoCenter on March 1.

The event is a great opportunity for people to restock meats, veggies and fruits that they haven’t been able to get since last summer’s various farmers’ markets, said CSA event coordinator Alison Godlewski.

"I think everyone is a little hungry this time of year and running low or missing those products," Godlewski told The Park Record. "The idea behind the event is to educate the public about which options were available in Park City, as far as getting locally grown produce and locally raised livestock."

The event, sponsored by Slow Foods, is designed to give producers of these foods the opportunity to introduce themselves to the public.

CSA is a business model that give the consumer direct access to farm fresh produce while directly supporting the smaller, sustainable, grassroots community farmers, Godlewski said.

"They all use small farms and have smaller budgets, and their specialties are growing, or raising livestock or making cheese and stuff like that," she said. "Therefore, they don’t have the same resources as the big businesses in the corporate food industry as far as their marketing campaign goes.

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"They do produce a superior product, but sometimes that message doesn’t get communicated to the consumer," she said. "This is a good opportunity for them to come out and do some marketing."

Godlewski said CSA events such as Meet the Producers are fun, community-building and educational.

"First off, they’re good for the locals, because they can get food that tastes better and is fresher and more nutritious," she said. "The events are also good for the economy because we’re keeping our dollars in the area and it allows the farmers and producers to stay on their land to raise and grow meat and produce."

Also, most of the producers offer products the consumer can’t get anywhere else.

"They make cheeses and specialty pickles and other artisan products like those that are unique to their businesses," Godlewski said.

In addition, the farmers who are part of CSA Utah are respected across the nation. (See full list in the story "Meet the Producers participants")

"Some of these producers, such as the Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery, are award winners," Godlewski said. "They go to the annual cheese competition in Wisconsin and win all these awards, which I think that’s fascinating, because Wisconsin is, of course, the national home of cheese, and even though they are located in Eden, by Snowbasin, you can buy their cheeses here in Park City."

Being from the area or having products available locally is another important aspect of the CSA, Godlewski said.

"We try to focus on producers who offer their products here in Park City, because as a consumer, it’s nice to know that the CSA does set up pickups where the consumer can get their produce here."

Still, those aren’t the only requirements that have to be met in order to participate in this year’s Meet Your Producers event, Godlewski said.

"We debated long and hard about where the cut off would be and it was a hard decision because there are certainly a lot of great producers, such as Squatters, who produce beer locally and sell it here," she said. "It was hard to draw the line, but we decided that any organization that had a restaurant they were affiliated with, like Squatters, would not participate, because Slow Foods will hold other events later that will spotlight restaurants that offer locally grown and locally sustainable products.

"We also decided to open the event up to any rancher or farmer or producer that grows locally or supports locally sustainable products," she said.

A case point is Chocolate Conspiracy, based in Salt Lake City.

"They are coming, even though there is no way you can grow cocoa beans in the United States," Godlewski said. "The reason is they do have unusually high sustainability standards, and they do make an effort to buy their ingredients locally. For instance, they buy their honey here, and honey is their sweetener, because they refuse to use sugar or corn syrup. So having them participate was based on a sustainability element."

When the people attend the event, they will sign in at a table, which automatically makes them eligible for an opportunity drawing.

"There are 30 prizes that our ranchers and farmers are donating to give away," Godlewski said.

After signing in, people will receive a sheet that lists all the producers and their contact information.

"Also, each producer will have a table that will display promotional material and info about their program and many will have samples and many will be selling products," Godlewski explained. "There will also be a hospitality table that will feature volunteers who have made large quantities of homemade soup, using seasonal ingredients.

"That will be the refreshment we will offer instead of cookies from Costco, because those didn’t quite fit into our mission and philosophy," she said. "We will be selling mugs, but people can bring their own to sample the soup. There will be a vegan, butternut-squash soup, a potato and leek soup and a beef and barley soup that will be made from beef that was donated by Summit County Beef."

Holding Meet the Producers at the Swaner EcoCenter was a given because it is a CSA pick-up point.

"Liberty Heights Fresh Market is there every Thursday afternoon, and they have supported CSA for years," Godlewski said. "We had been talking with Swaner to partner with them for different events and they were 100 percent supportive and excited to host this event."

CSA’s concept has gained popularity the past decade because people realize the tomatoes you buy in the grocery stores don’t taste as good, Godlewski said.

"It makes sense when those fruits and vegetables were picked two weeks ago and had to be transported across the country in semis," she said.

The Community Supported Agriculture’s Meet the Producers Event will be held at the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr., at Kimball Junction, on Thursday, March 1, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.swanerecocenter.org.