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Fast food on Broad Street?

Imagine this! What if there was a new McDonalds at the top of Broad Street, maybe somewhere near the Methodist Church? It’s unthinkable! It would tear at the core of our community and its vision of itself.

That’s exactly what happened in Rome, Italy. In 1986 McDonalds planned to open a new restaurant at the bottom of Spanish Steps – one of Rome’s most beautiful and romantic squares. The Italians were, to put it mildly, incensed. In fact, the event spawned an international revolt called the Slow Food Movement. Carlo Petrini, considered the father of this movement, rallied his friends and community. He began to speak out at every available opportunity about the effects of this “fast food” culture. With the preservation of taste at the forefront of their philosophy; he sought to support small growers and artisanal producers, to protect Italy’s agricultural heritage, and promote biodiversity. Today the Slow Food Movement is active in over 100 countries and has 80,000 members consisting of small farmers, ranchers, chefs, activists, and consumers like you and I.

Slow Food U.S.A. oversees activities of more than 170 local chapters, called “conviviums”, which are primarily organized by county. Each convivium offers educational events and public outreach programs that support local agriculture and food production and help build bridges between consumers and local producers.



Here, in Nevada County, we have our own simpler, independent version of this organization. It began in 2006 when a small group of dedicated volunteers produced an event called Come Home to Eat. On a cold, rainy Saturday in March, more than 200 people showed up to listen to a panel of farmers and ranchers discuss the sad state of affairs of local agriculture. Farmers and ranchers were overwhelmed by the outpouring of community interest in and support of the needs of our agricultural community. After the morning’s program, everyone enjoyed a bountiful lunch of mostly locally-grown foods.

The Local Food Coalition began to take shape. It developed into an informal network of organizations, farmers, ranchers, activists, businesses, beginning farmers, and long time county residents. This diverse group of people found they had a common thread that united them-they all loved good food and wanted to insure its availability in years to come. The mission statement for the coalition says, ” working together to support farmers, preserve local farms and farmland, and ensure a local food supply in the western Nevada County area.”




The first projects of the coalition in the spring and summer of 2006 were to establish a Web site http://www.localfoodcoalition.org, set up a communication e-mail list, and publish the first Nevada County Farm Guide. The coalition met monthly at various farms, continually drawing in new volunteers to this burgeoning movement.

In March 2007 the second Come Home to Eat event was a celebratory and community building event, called a Farmer’s Honorary Banquet and Ball. It was a sumptuous sit-down dinner made from locally grown foods and wine, followed by awards for every farmer and rancher in attendance, concluding with contra dancing. Again, it was a huge success and drew a much larger crowd than expected.

The movement is beginning to show some fantastic benefits for our local economy and agricultural community. Demand for locally grown food is increasing and Farmer’s Markets are drawing bigger crowds. Issues at the county level, like the impacts of development on farmland, are beginning to be addressed. The first ever joint meeting of the Agricultural Advisory Commission and the Planning Commission took place in July, 2007. All the local CSA farms are fully subscribed, and more are being planned. Also, an application is in process for Nevada County to have its own Slow Foods “convivium”. (There is already one in Truckee.)

“Nevada County Grown” is a newly forming non-profit marketing organization for local farmers and ranchers. It will produce and develop the annual farm guide and maintain a website (presently under construction), as well as other marketing efforts. The official kick-off of the organization and the beginning of the membership drive will be at this years’ Come Home to Eat event.

If you’d like to wake up those taste buds and re-remember what homegrown food once tasted like, the third annual Come Home to Eat will be held on June 21st at the Bierwagen Farm in Chicago Park at 6 PM. This summer evening picnic at the pond will feature all foods grown or raised here in Nevada County. Rumor has it that desserts will consist of local blueberries, raspberries, and rhubarb! An after-dinner program is planned as well as contra dancing, courtesy of local band, Ragged But Right.

Get your tickets early! If you love to eat, you’re sure to find folks there with common interests. Net proceeds from this event will go to kick off the “Nevada County Grown” marketing program. Dinner tickets (including the evening program) are on a sliding scale–$15 to $50. Local wines and regional beers will also be sold separately. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available at: Briarpath Co-op, Natural Selections, Happy Apple Kitchen (in Chicago Park), Nevada County Land Trust, and the Sweetland Garden Supply (N. San Juan).

Patti Bess is a local freelance writer and recipe developer. She is the host of What’s Cookin’ on KVMR-FM in Nevada City.

“Nevada County Grown” is a newly forming non-profit marketing organization for local farmers and ranchers. It will produce and develop the annual Farm Guide and maintain a website (presently under construction), as well as other marketing efforts. The official kick-off of the organization and the beginning of the membership drive will be at this year’s Come Home to Eat Event.

If you’d like to wake up your taste buds and re-remember what homegrown food once tasted like, the third annual Come Home to Eat event will be held on June 21st at the Bierwagen Farm in Chicago Park at 6 PM. This summer evening picnic at the pond will feature all foods grown or raised here in Nevada County. Rumor has it that desserts will consist of local blueberries, raspberries, and rhubarb! An after-dinner program is planned as well as contra dancing courtesy of local band, Ragged But Right.

Get your tickets early! If you love to eat, you’re sure to find folks there with common interests. Net proceeds from this event will go to kick off the “Nevada County Grown” marketing program. Dinner tickets (including the evening program) are on a sliding scale–$15 to $50. Local wines and regional beers will also be sold separately. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available at: Briarpatch Co-op, Natural Selections, Happy Apple Kitchen (in Chicago Park), Nevada County Land Trust, and the Sweetland Garden Supply (N. San Juan).

Nevada County grown

“Nevada County Grown” is a newly forming non-profit marketing organization for local farmers and ranchers. It will produce and develop the annual Farm Guide and maintain a website (presently under construction), as well as other marketing efforts. The official kick-off of the organization and the beginning of the membership drive will be at this year’s Come Home to Eat Event.

If you’d like to wake up your taste buds and re-remember what homegrown food once tasted like, the third annual Come Home to Eat event will be held on June 21st at the Bierwagen Farm in Chicago Park at 6 PM. This summer evening picnic at the pond will feature all foods grown or raised here in Nevada County. Rumor has it that desserts will consist of local blueberries, raspberries, and rhubarb! An after-dinner program is planned as well as contra dancing courtesy of local band, Ragged But Right.

Get your tickets early! If you love to eat, you’re sure to find folks there with common interests. Net proceeds from this event will go to kick off the “Nevada County Grown” marketing program. Dinner tickets (including the evening program) are on a sliding scale–$15 to $50. Local wines and regional beers will also be sold separately. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available at: Briarpatch Co-op, Natural Selections, Happy Apple Kitchen (in Chicago Park), Nevada County Land Trust, and the Sweetland Garden Supply (N. San Juan).

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