May 20, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects
Hand-decorated bay leaves, a wheat berry salad with arugula and apples, local fresh flowers, family style serving platters, and farmer-hosts at each table –together these created the “Lunch on the Quad”, which brought to life the working solutions to our food system in Washington D.C.
The Future of Food conference, put on by the Washington Post Live, brought together a diverse group of stakeholders in the food movement, including CEOs, activists, policymakers, students and organization leaders, to talk about the solutions needed to fix our current food system. The Future of Food was a day-long conference with four panel discussions, speeches by industry leaders Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Patrick Holden (Sustainable Food Trust), and a rousing keynote by His Royal Highness Prince Charles. Seedling Projects collaborated with Bon Appetit Management Company and D.C. non-profits, with the generous support of Kaiser Permanente, to produce a lunch that continued the conversations sparked by the panelists and speakers over a family-style meal.
So, it’s just lunch right? At some level, lunch is always a meal falling approximately in the middle of the day. But each element of the “Lunch on the Quad”, which occurred inside two of Georgetown’s most beautiful rooms, the Copley Lounge and Riggs Library, carried meaning and intention. The intention to show how to eat a delicious meal that directly supports local farmers and is healthful and affordable (~ $10 person for a four-course meal). This intention combined with the lunch keynote by White House Chef Sam Kass and Blue Hill at Stone Barns Chef Dan Barber created lunch more powerful than just your everyday PB&Js.
Hand-decorated bay leaves. The children from E.W. Stokes public charter school and Martha’s Table donated their youthful artistic talents to decorate 350 bay leaves that sprang to life at each place setting. The leaf decoration, coordinated by Farm to Desk D.C. coordinator Peter Nalli, was integrated into a lesson on herbs. Our first group of artists hails from the E.W. Stokes public charter school, the pilot school of the Farm to Desk program which integrates food and ecology into lessons on math and english. The Farm to Desk program teaches healthy eating habits through an integrated food curriculum, a dining hall serving from-scratch food, and a thriving organic garden at the school, in addition to a growing online wiki of lesson content that aligns food curriculum with core learning standards. Our second group of artists came from Martha’s Table, a shelter in D.C. that recently replaced much of its canned food with freshly-cooked meals, adding emphasis to healthy food in their programs. Both organizations are pioneering the integration of fresh food and education into these children’s lifestyles.
A wheat berry salad with arugula and apples. Prepared and served by Bon Appetit Management Company, this meal showcased the best local farms and food producers, all within 150 miles of Washington D.C. Sourced through FRESHFARM Markets, which organizes eleven farmers’ markets in the D.C. area, these family farmers provided all the ingredients for the lunch, including spring flower honey from Bon Appetit’s own Jay Keller and watermelon puree from young Allesandra Bergmark of Even’ Star Organic Farm in Maryland. From these local ingredients, Bon Appetit Management Company cooked a meal centered around healthful whole grains and vegetables. Bon Appetit, leaders in sustainable food service with over 400 university, museum and corporate cafes, championed the meal with careful preparation, creative recipes and graceful service. The result was a delicious reflection of the D.C. region.
Family-style serving platters. In an experience concepted and designed by the architects and graphic designers at BCV Architects and Amy Barboro Design, we served each dish family style. This communal dining experience sat renowned activists and policymakers among students and farmers, passing platters of spring asparagus and mesclun greens as the conversation and ideas flowed naturally from the morning to afternoon conference sessions. Students in D.C. Central Kitchen’s “Fresh Start” program, a job training program for those overcoming addiction, incarceration and homelessness, served the platters and added additional local flair to the organizations involved.
Local fresh flowers. Local florist Sidra Flowers arranged each of the centerpiece bouquets. Sidra sources from local organic gardens, whether the backyard or farm. The fresh flowers in each bouquet bloomed life into each room.
Farmer-hosts at each table. Local farmers hosted each of the tables, travelling sometime two hours that morning to proudly represent their growing region. Interspersed amongst the other conference attendees, these farmers supplied not only the rhubarb and kale, but also a valuable farmer’s perspective to each table. The farms represented included Big City Farms in Baltimore, MD, Gun Powder Bison Ranch in Monktown, MD, and Wade’s Mill in Raphine, VA, among others.
In a special moment immediately preceding the lunch, Prince Charles met with one member from each organization and company collaborating on the lunch. These lucky champions of the sustainable food movement included Sarah Weiner (Seedling Projects), Hans Baldauf (BCV Architects), Jay Keller (Bon Appetit Management Company), Gwen Perkins (DC Central Kitchen), Jim Crawford (Tuscarona Growers Cooperative), Sam Kass (White House Chef) and Dan Barber (Blue Hill at Stone Barns). The special recognition for those producing lunch highlighted our renewed commitment to creating a food system that values the people working on the ground every day, from farmers to chefs, to community nonprofits.
- Gavin Crynes
Photos by Nikki Kahn and Tracy Woodward of the Washington Post