Feast Down East, also known as Southeastern NC Food Systems Program (SENCFS), held its fifth annual conference Feb. 6 at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Burney Center.
The non-profit economic development program works to alleviate poverty in rural and urban communities by helping small-scale farmers build and sustain their farms as well as connect with local markets.
The conference was Feast Down East’s most well attended and successful to date, according to director Jane Steigerwald.
“It’s really a great way for community members to connect and network with others who have an interest in learning where their food comes from and knowing the value of it both nutritionally and economically,” she said.
One of the highlights of the conference, according to Steigerwald, is the presentation of the Agrarian Stewardship Award. This year’s recipients were chef Jameson Chavez of Manna and Jim and Rosemary Lofts of Triple J Ranch and Family Farm in Beulaville. Previous winners include Margaret Shelton of Shelton Herb Farm, Stefan Hartmann of Black River Organic Farm, chef Tripp Engel of Brasserie du Soleil and chef James Doss of Rx/Pembrokes Restaurants.
“It’s important to recognize those that support our efforts in a big way,” said Steigerwald. “They are role models for the other chefs and farmers.”
Two of the main goals of the organization for 2015 will be to increase access to affordable fresh food in urban communities as well as increase connections with not only restaurants but also local schools, health care facilities and grocery stores.
Feast Down East will hold its second annual Farm Dinner and Benefit Sat. March 21 at Poplar Grove Plantation. The gourmet dinner will include a variety of offerings from ten local chefs with everything from hors d’oeuvres to dessert as well as local beer and wine and a signature cocktail. L Shaped Lot will perform and a silent auction will take place as well. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale soon and will be $80 per person or $150 for two. Click here
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