Small Farms Expo

Chef Chris Plemmons in the kitchen

Chef Chris Plemmons in the kitchen

On Saturday Feb. 9 the WSU Small Farms Team put on the third annual Small Farms Expo. This year’s theme was Gaining Ground, which seemed like a good choice, as the classes and conversations seemed to continue the training and discussion we’ve had in previous years.

This year I attended as a vendor, managing the booth for the West Sound Beekeepers Association. Veteran teacher Paul Lundy presented a class, “Sweet Rewards”, discussing backyard beekeeping for pollination and honey. The club is holding its first ever “Farmer-Beekeeper Forum” at the regular meeting Tuesday February 19 at 7 p.m. at Stedman’s Bee Supplies. The idea is to bring farmers together with beekeepers to discuss how to make sure pollination happens for our local farmers. Most of the conversations I had centered on the pollination crisis in the country and locally; many farmers reported a sharp drop in native pollinators last year.

I did get to attend one class by Chef Chris Plemmons, “Pantry Basics”. Fifteen of us gathered around the tables in the Olympic College kitchen. Chef Plemmons described the pantry as holding basic ingredients to cook with. He reviewed: fresh vegetables, flours, rice, oils, and spices. His pantry list handout covered the essential items to have on hand. It was a good review of things the attendees already knew, clarification of things I’d always wondered, and there was one ingredient we’d never heard of. Chef Plemmons introduced us to freekeh, an antique wheat harvested green and roasted to remove the husk. Its dense kerneals are used like pasta or rice. It is held to be significantly more nutritious and healthful than post-Green-Revolution wheat, although as a wheat it does contain gluten.

One of the best things about local farmer and chef events is the food. Chef Plemmons and team turned out a fabulous winter food buffet: salads, including a cold beet salad with ginger vinaigrette; soups, hearty beef barley and borscht; and desserts, apple crumble and pear cranberry crumble. Monica Downen of Monica’s Waterfront Bakery and Cafe joined the team to turn out a white bean and pork soup and tons of her perfect rolls. Leftovers were available after the event, I took home a quart of soup and a bag of rolls.

Once again the dedicated team of Shannon Harkness and Diane Fish pulled off an informative event that is also building a solid food community in Kitsap. Can’t wait till next year!

2012 Small Farms Expo
2011 Small Farms Expo

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