Mar­ble Street hosts Farm to Ta­ble meal in Rock­mart

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Sean Wil­liams [email protected]­

Twin­kling lights, live mu­sic, and home­cooked food brought ap­prox­i­mately 100 lo­cals to the an­nual Farm to Ta­ble event, and with South Mar­ble Street lined with ta­bles and hun­gry guests, the Rock­mart Farm­ers Mar­ket raised the money needed for an­other pro­duc­tive year and spread their mes­sage of a health­ier com­mu­nity.

Din­ner was head­lined by freshly-fer­mented kraut with duck egg and sour­dough toasts, stuffed sweet Ge­or­gia candy roast­ers, gar­lic herb beef, chicken halves with a mus­ca­dine thyme sauce, smoked root veg­eta­bles, mar­i­nated kale salad with edi­ble flow­ers and lemon honey dress­ing, and lo­cally made herbal soda and tea.

The meal was pre­pared with lo­cal in­gre­di­ents by Mar­ket Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Shonna Kirkpatrick over sev­eral days, the dishes used in­gre­di­ents of­fered by farm­ers such as Spread­ing Oaks Farm, Sand Creek Farm, That For­eign Chick’s Bak­ery, Foote­hill Farm­house, Bella Vita Mush­rooms, Fitzger­ald Fruit Farm, Tim­ber­land Farm, Five Cedars Farm, and Morn­ing Glory Farm.

“It was all lo­cal food pre­pared by lo­cal cooks,” Kirkpatrick said. “We ac­tu­ally thought of hir­ing chefs at one point, but I think that it re­ally made the food tan­gi­ble to do it our­selves. It was still nice and fancy, but I think there is a tan­gi­bil­ity to the food that they could re­ally re­late to.”

Rais­ing money was an im­por­tant as­pect of the din­ner -- the Rock­mart Farm­ers Mar­ket doesn’t have a higher in­sti­tu­tion or city main­tain­ing it -- but high­light­ing how healthy foods can be made de­li­cious was also a goal of the night.

“Our mis­sion is to im­prove the health of our com­mu­nity,” Kirkpatrick said. “The mar­ket is one way to do that, but ed­u­ca­tion around food and prepa­ra­tion is also a huge por­tion of it. Many of us don’t know how to pre­pare healthy food in a way that tastes good. So, we think ‘oh, I don’t like okra.’ Well, you prob­a­bly don’t like slimy okra that’s been pre­pared in­cor­rectly. When peo­ple have grilled okra that’s barely cooked and cooked whole, peo­ple think ‘this is amaz­ing.’”

Ed­u­ca­tion and tips for build­ing a healthy re­la­tion­ship with food can also be found in other ven­tures un­der­taken by the or­ga­ni­za­tion such as the cook­ing classes and cook­ing demos held through­out the year.

More in­for­ma­tion about join­ing the classes can be found athttp:// www.rock­mart­farm­ers­mar­ up­com­ing-classes.

The Farm to Ta­ble event also taught lo­cals that cel­e­bra­tory foods can be healthy and tasty. While birth­day par­ties or wed­dings might of­fer cake and chips, the Oc­to­ber 6 ban­quet of­fered healthy desserts such as freshly baked cook­ies, ap­ple crumb cake, car­rot cake, and lo­cally roasted cof­fee made pos­si­ble by Chick N’ Scratch, South Mar­ble Cof­fee House, and That For­eign Chick’s Bak­ery.

“When we think of birth­days, it’s all junk food,” Kirkpatrick said. “The kids go to par­ties and eat all this crazy stuff, and so to be able to make a cel­e­bra­tory meal that has healthy el­e­ments is needed. We cel­e­brate a lot.”

The mar­ket op­er­ates year round, but such a sched­ule comes with costs.

Aside from grants and spon­sor­ship, the mar­ket is re­spon­si­ble for it­self. Those in­ter­ested in get­ting in­volved for fu­ture events, be­com­ing a spon­sor, or do­nat­ing may con­sider vis­it­ing http://www. rock­mart­farm­ers­mar­­tactlist/.

The ap­prox­i­mately 12 vol­un­teers that helped dur­ing the ban­quet were very much needed, but re­gard­less how many hands she has on deck, lo­cals can count on the mar­ket’s di­rec­tor to per­form with pas­sion and love for the mar­ket and lo­cal food.

“I loved cook­ing the food,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think those three days I spent prep­ping and cook­ing the food may have been some of my hap­pi­est days. I was truly hon­ored to cook the food for the farm­ers and for the peo­ple.”

The Rock­mart Farm­ers Mar­ket is open ev­ery Thurs­day from 2 through 6 p.m. on Rock­mart’s Wa­ter Street.

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