Food & Wine Classic helps small farms | AspenTimes.com

Food & Wine Classic helps small farms

Charles Agar

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Next year’s Aspen Food & Wine Classic, will raise $1 million for a national nonprofit promoting local and sustainable farming.Four percent of each $975 ticket will support the Farm to Table Initiative of Earth Pledge, a New York City-based nonprofit. The initiative seeks to encourage and support sustainable and profitable local agriculture by introducing new farming techniques and technologies to small and midsize farms.”With the U.S. losing close to two acres of farmland per minute to urban sprawl and our food traveling on average 2,000 miles from the farm to our tables, we knew we needed to take action to preserve the local farm,” Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine, said in a prepared statement.Fundraisers plan to raise $1 million to expand the Farm to Table initiative to 25 U.S. cities. The effort will open a West Coast office (the program is thriving on the East Coast) and Earth Pledge officials estimate they will save 1,000 to 1,500 farms nationwide in the next three to five years.”No other event has as much star power behind its chefs and vintners,” event promoter Sheri Heedum said. “It’s considered the Super Bowl of culinary gatherings.””We see local and sustainable agriculture as a critical component of sustainability,” said Leslie Hoffman, executive director of Earth Pledge. And midsize farms, from 200 to 1,000 acres, are under most pressure to sell to developers or join up with larger agribusinesses.”Unless you start getting decent prices for your product, it’s hard to make a case for continued farming,” Hoffman said. Local farms not only build biodiversity and preserve animal habitat and open space, but also provide people with healthy, fresh produce (and, of course, wine) as well as building material, the fuel in your vehicle and the shirt on your back, Hoffman said.”Loss of farmland in America is a crisis,” Hoffman said. “Farm to Table is to help stem the tide and save midsized farmers in particular.”Tickets are available by calling (877) 900-WINE or visiting http://www.foodandwine.com/classic. Tickets are $975 before March 15 and $1,075 after.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.