Living in the suburbs and taking on a permaculture project can be an isolating task. What keeps us motivated is the knowledge that we are a part of a wider movement. People across the world are dedicated to permaculture principles and spreading knowledge and information.
We recognize that not everybody is going to take a few weeks to take a full Permaculture Design Course and start his or her own project. What we can do is share our little world, and share our harvest with our local community. We are only 2 years in, but how have we started doing this?
Farm to table tasting of course!
When the harvest is at its peak and we have excess to share (usually September in the Northeast US) we throw a ‘Farm to Table’ party in our backyard. We have the Farm to Table tastings to show how you can transform the produce you grow into tasty dishes, and how to capture the benefits of permaculture in daily cooking.
This past year was our second year of inviting our friends and family over to share in our harvest. Here are a few of the keys that have made our farm to table tastings both informative and fun.
Create a menu
A few months in advance, my fiancé Jenny starts putting together the menu. It is largely driven by what veggies we have available, what can be transformed into easily accessible meals, and what can be stored! I, of course, take very little credit in the food preparation category, but Jenny got us well stocked and prepared with a delightful menu.
Cook in advance
We try to make as much as we can in advance to minimize the cooking on the day of, that way we can enjoy the party. Think about what can be stored and saved. This will provide multiple benefits for you, such as:
1. Less work the day of the party so you can spend time enjoying your guest’s company.
2. More food you will have saved over time. You can make extra portions and save some for yourself for later!
3. Sell the excess stored food if anyone wants to take home some of your recipes.
Many small handheld courses
We try to make the day interactive in the garden, show people around, let them interact with the different plants, and of course feed the chickens. By providing small handheld dishes it makes it more informal to try the food, but also walk around and check out the gardens. We are also able to taste some of the fresh plants that have a unique taste like Sorrel and Sweet Cicely. Picking the watermelon fresh and cutting it up to enjoy was a big hit.
Sell your excess
The large gathering is a great excuse to put out your fresh food for sale. We were able to sell $90 of produce in a matter of minutes. This gives a bit of income, but also provides a number of educational benefits. It can help to change the mindset of visitors to put a value on the food they grow in their own backyards. Hopefully, after tasting the homemade pasta sauce, being able to take home bags of tomatoes will add just a bit more pleasure than tomatoes that were shipped from across the country.
Provide your context
While it is important to share your food and your home with your guests, you should also provide them with ways to understand the deeper context of what you are doing. We have done this by providing our design concepts each year. It is evolving and changing, so we provide both the original plan and the latest design. Showing the full site plan gets feedback and some ideas for anyone else considering starting something small on their own.
The best outcome is for you to enjoy yourself, and share your passion. If this helps spread the word and interest then even better!