The calendar says it's September. How did it happen? As an ardent lover of summer, the month that marks the end of my favorite season takes me by surprise. A part of me wants to dislike September, but how can I, when our landscape is awash in golden light and the farmers' markets are overflowing with gorgeous produce?
It is better to forget days getting shorter and nights getting chillier and celebrate: September is Local Food Month, when we officially revel in the foods produced in our county and the people who grow and make them. You may wonder how I can get so excited every year, but the menu of events and chances to meet local food producers and taste their products is always a surprise.
There's not enough room for an exhaustive description of this year's banquet. Instead, here are some enticing samples to spark your interest. Most of the festivities are scheduled for September with a few stretching the party through early October. There is something for everybody in the full lineup, which is available at www.localfoodmonth.org. Some events require reservations and/or payment, but most are free and open to the public.
As an enthusiastic supporter of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), I am pleased to announce the CSA Farm Open House, organized by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). Seven CSAs open their doors to visitors on Sunday, Sept. 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. A beautiful brochure with a wealth of details —a map and directions, tips on making the most of the event and general information on CSAs — is available for download on the event page.
On Sept. 6 from noon to 8 p.m., you can also learn about Community-Supported Brewing at Humboldt Regeneration Brewery in McKinleyville. Its third anniversary party includes the release of some specialty brews.
Do you love sweet corn? The Corn Harvest Festival will celebrate the College of the Redwoods School Farm Corn Trials. Working with the Organic Seed Alliance, the farm has been growing 143 different kinds of sweet corn as part of a USDA-funded project to create new varieties best suited for organic cultivation and seed exchange. The festival takes place at the CR farm in Shively on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m.
How about kale? If the answer is "Yeah!" then the Kale Yeah Party and Potluck on Friday, Sept. 11 from 4 to 7 p.m. is for you. The Humboldt State University Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT) invites you to bring your kale dishes, recipes and seeds to swap and share. (If you need a suggestion, check out my recipe for green soup in "Make it Green," March 12.)
For Sunday, Sept. 13 from 1 to 4 p.m., Fresh Roots Humboldt has prepared an urban farm tour that includes front yard farming, backyard chickens, rain water harvesting, responsible watering and sustainable urban berry farming. And on Wednesday, Sept. 16 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Loleta Community Garden at Loleta Elementary School hosts the North Coast Community Garden Collaborative's monthly "Gardener Meet & Greet."
On Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m., Masters at Moonstone serves an eight-course dinner designed by a group of chefs overlooking beloved Moonstone Beach. Proceeds benefit CAFF's Farm to School Program and the Humboldt County Office of Education's Harvest of the Month Program, teaching children about local farms and appreciation of the fresh produce they grow.
Movie time is on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. The local nonprofit organization Locally Delicious invites us to watch Fresh, a documentary about personal initiatives to re-invent our food system. Proceeds ($5 or a donation) support Locally Delicious grants for projects to expand access to local, fresh, organic food for all.
Harvest season celebrations include the Orleans Harvest Festival on Thursday, Sept. 17 from 5 to 9 p.m., and the Fortuna Apple Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What to do with all the beautiful produce from the farmers markets and our vegetable gardens? On Saturday, Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. UC Master Food Preserver Volunteers and Deborah Giraud from UC Cooperative Extension present a canning workshop at the Agriculture Center in Eureka. It covers three recipes using both water bath and pressure canning.
Schoolchildren are the stars of the sixth annual Youth Salsa Recipe Competition on the Arcata Plaza on Saturday, Oct. 10 at noon. Bring your discriminating palate and help choose the people's choice winner from among the teams' amazing variations on the theme.
The Pop-Up Picnic on the Plaza on Saturday, Sept. 26, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the culmination of the Eat Local Challenge organized by the North Coast Growers' Association in partnership with the North Coast Co-Op. The challenge aims to increase our awareness of the provenance of the food we bring to our tables. Information about the month-long event is available at the farmers markets in Arcata, Eureka and McKinleyville and at the customer service desk of the North Coast Co-op stores in Arcata and Eureka.
And there is more, so consult the Local Food Month website and make this a September to remember during the long winter months ahead. If the El Niño forecasts come true, we will need an extra dose of such sunny memories this winter.