Carbondale’s Farm Fest Celebrates Local Food from Oct. 14-16
Harvest season has always held a universal, mythical quality.
Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, autumn truly is a liminal time. It’s a time of transition as well as a time of abundance and joy. As the days get shorter and the first signs of winter appear, our farmers quite literally “reap what they have sown,” while families and communities come together to connect and celebrate those who provide them sustenance.
It is in this spirit that the Carbondale Tourism Board, local Chef Mark Hardin, organizers and participants hope attendees will enjoy the inaugural Carbondale Farm Fest from Oct. 14-16.
According to Hardin, harvest celebrations are all about gathering around a fire with friends and neighbors to reminisce summer while enjoying music and, most importantly, food.
Hardin grew up in Ohio, where his family maintained a small summer garden that had a huge impact on his relationship to land, food and community. He fondly remembers how that small plot of soil in the backyard fed his immediate family, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, and he credits it with instilling a certain awareness about not wasting anything and the importance of self-sustenance.
He has recruited a group of notable chefs, restaurateurs, ranchers and farmers — both legacy and newcomers — to pull off the weekend-long festival. Spring Creeks Ranch, Cedar Ridge Ranch and Potter Farms are a few of the outfits opening their gates to the public.
Of course, there have been challenges. Due to the well-documented and much-lamented labor shortage in the valley, some friends and colleagues had to decide between keeping their businesses open and participating, not having enough staff to do both. Hardin understands the challenges facing the restaurant industry and hopes this will become an annual tradition that will allow everyone to partake in the future.
Nonetheless, Farm Fest has managed to snag some high-profile supporters. Harper Kaufman, owner of Two Roots Farm; Casey Piscura, executive director of Seed Peace; and chefs Brian Mallon and Jeff Porterfield of Stick and Bindle are a small sampling of some of the local talent Farm Fest has enlisted. Beloved longtime resident and chef Andreas Fischbacher, formerly of Cloud Nine and Allegria, is also thrilled to support it.
“It’s important for the community to get involved and come together on a big scale and learn where their food comes from,” Fischbacher said.
Several local farms will be providing produce for the event. But, don’t call what he does “farm to table.”
“I don’t love the term ‘farm to table’ because everything that ends up on the table is from some sort of a farm,” corporate or otherwise, he said, adding that all of us should advocate for our locally run farms. “Farming and ranching are very important to the valley, and something we need to preserve for the survival of our animals, land and our way of life.”
Tanner Gianinetti, a fourth-generation owner and operator of Spring Creeks Ranch, agrees.
“It’s so important to know where our food comes from, especially when it comes to the meat we eat,” he said.
Gianinetti’s predecessors immigrated to the valley in 1911. In 1927, they acquired what is now Springs Creeks Ranch. The ranch evolved from a substantial potato-farming operation in the 1920s to 1940s and then moved into livestock. Today, it’s a fully operational hospitality ranch that hosts an equestrian center, fly fishing and various private events.
Although the Gianinetti family is not commercially ranching any longer, Gianinetti stressed the impact it makes on all of us when people get a chance to see the lifecycle of an animal and how it fits into the food chain.
“Without an awareness and understanding of the animals we eat, how they live, their personalities, as well as ranching protocols, consumers can’t really appreciate where their meat comes from,” he said.
He’s excited about opening the ranch to Farm Fest participants for a Harvest Luncheon on Saturday, Oct. 15, and is interested in how new, younger farmers in the valley are working toward a more sustainable local food chain.
For Tanner, it is all about “self-sufficiency, getting like-minded people together, family values and keeping the village atmosphere alive.”
Mark Hardin shares the sentiment.
“What we have here in the Roaring Fork Valley are long-standing ranching and farming traditions,” he said. And, now, “what we are seeing is a resurgence of those traditions,” with a focus on more sustainable means, less energy and less processing. “Cheap food is not necessarily the best for the land, animals and those of us eating it.”
Hardin hopes Farm Fest will give people a renewed appreciation for all the great things the valley has to offer and encourage them to look to local suppliers to supply their food.
As for the event, he said, “We want everyone to do well; plus, it’s fun working with our friends.”
What: Farm Fest 2022
When: Oct. 14-16
Tickets: $200, includes access to weekend-long activities; Harvest Lunch at Spring Creeks Ranch; and mini CSA Box.
more info: carbondale.com/farm-fest/
Funds raised from the event ticket sales and partnerships will be used to launch a new tourism grant program for local agricultural and food businesses. For more information about becoming a Farm Fest community partner, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.