Grazing at the Grange
The Farm Viability Committee is holding its second food preparation demonstration on Wednesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. at the Grange Hall at 6 West St.
The event is a cooking class using locally grown beef and lamb from the Watson Farm, which is owned by Historic New England and managed by Don and Heather Minto. Tickets can be obtained for a $15 donation by calling Phil Larson at 423-1238.
The participating chefs for the event are Kevin Gaudreau, from Trattoria Simpatico, and Steven Liebhauser, the owner of Slice of Heaven. The success of the first cooking demonstration last fall, when Phil Larson and Chef Kevin Gaudreau showed guests how to prepare 2,000 pounds of pumpkin, prompted Jamestown Community Farm Manager Bob Sutton to stage another event.
“Cooking demonstrations are the perfect vehicle to help raise awareness and familiarize people with local fare grown on Jamestown farms,” said Sutton. The event will also promote the activities of the Farm Viability Committee, the community farm, and encourage citizens interested in the preservation and success of local farmers to join the Grange.
“The significance of the homegrown beef and lamb is that the quality of the meat is minimally as good as any comparable product anywhere in the country,” Sutton said. “The cattle and sheep are grass-fed. This means that they eat only grass by free-range grazing and pasture-grown hay from the Watson Farm. No artificial food supplements or grain are added to their diet,” he added.
Sutton has had an interest in farming all his life. So much so that about five years ago he helped establish the community farm to help raise food for the Rhode Island Food Bank. He convinced Peter Ceppi to let his land on the corner of Eldred Avenue and East Shore Road be used for that purpose.
The community farm was so successful that Sutton was inspired to do more. It occurred to him that if residents wanted to keep open space in Jamestown, the few farmers and farms that are still on the island must be kept as working farms. So, he wrote a grant, gathered some cash, and found some very professional people to conduct a farm viability study that resulted in an outstanding piece of work. However, that was not enough.
Sutton then decided that it would be a good idea to get the farmers talking to each other face to face, so they could exchange ideas, share information, and develop innovative techniques to make local farming more productive and profitable.
There has been a standardized method of doing this for well over 100 years in this country. It is called the Grange. Sutton contacted all the farmers and a few interested people and convinced them to join the organization for only $18 a year. Sutton agreed to lead and teach Robert’s Rules of Order to the local farmers and the local Grange has been a success ever since.
The upcoming cooking demonstration is designed to elevate the consciousness of island residents and introduce them to the many delicious and healthy offerings that are grown and raised by island farmers. “Many people aren’t even aware that the Dutra farm, right here in Jamestown, produces most of the milk for the Rhodie Fresh dairy. They also don’t know that McQuade’s, our local grocer, is one of the biggest retailers selling Rhodie products,” said Sutton.
This event is sure to help the Grange and local farmers accomplish their goals. Sutton noted that only 40 tickets are available, so anyone wishing to attend should be aware that they will go quickly.