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The Bounty Around Us 

On the menu for Local Food Month

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"It's that time of the year," sang Len Barry, and I echo his words. He meant summertime, but I mean Local Food Month, when we officially celebrate the food grown or made in our county — a month-long party featuring special events and chances to meet local food producers and taste their products.

Providing an exhaustive list of all that is brewing isn't possible in a short article, so instead I offer a set of amuse-bouches, morsels to whet your appetite and entice you to learn the details of the rich menu, which includes events all September and spilling into early October: everything from fine dining to farm tours to festivals.

At www.localfoodmonth.org, you can browse the calendar of events. My suggestion is to peruse this year's list and try something you have never done before. For example, have you ever looked at the sign for Redwood Roots Farm and wondered? On Sept. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m., farmer Janet Czarnecki hosts an open house so you can satisfy your curiosity (warning: you will not want to leave). Other farms open for tours include Freshwater Farms Reserve, also on Sept. 7 from noon to 6 p.m. and Shakefork Community Farm on Sept. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. (I recommend the oxen team demo.) On Sept. 28 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. you can join a guided visit to two farms and a winery in Pepperwood, on the Avenue of the Giants (pre-registration required). On Sept. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m., Warren Creek Farms hosts a tour of the 2013 Organic Silage Corn Variety Trial, a project carried out by the Organic Seed Alliance for finding the best of a set of non-GM varieties for local production.

When I look at a farm's field, I tend to look at what's growing up top: from globes of tender butter lettuce to deep green spinach, from tall corn stalks to close-to-the-ground strawberries. I have to remind myself that the bounty depends on the rich soil below. The documentary Symphony of the Soil at the Arcata Theatre Lounge on Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. invites us to take a closer look at what's under our feet. Tickets are $5 and proceeds go to the Locally Delicious Food Fund, which pays local farmers to grow produce for the Food for People food bank.

But what about eating, you may wonder. There will be plenty of opportunities for tasting local foods, such as bread made with locally grown grains by Beck's Bakery (Sept. 21, 1 to 4 p.m.) and brews made with locally grown barley and hops by Regeneration Beer (Oct. 5, noon to 8 p.m.). Some very fine dining is also on the calendar. Barntini (Sept. 5, 5:30 to 8 p.m.) is a food, drink and music event benefitting the work of Humboldt Wildlife Care Center and Jacoby Creek Land Trust. Masters at Moonstone (Sept. 16, 6 to 9 p.m.) is an eight-course dinner in a romantic setting overlooking Moonstone Beach. Proceeds benefit the Community Alliance with Family Farmers' (CAFF) Farm to School Programs and the Humboldt County Office of Education's (HCOE) Harvest of the Month Program, programs that give children in our schools the opportunity to learn about local farms and appreciate the fresh produce they grow.

A number of potlucks, festivals, farmers market tastings and an Underground Dinner (on Sept. 16, details to be revealed only to those signed up to attend) should keep food lovers well fed until the grand finale, the 10-day-long Local Restaurant Week, also organized by Locally Delicious. From Sept. 26 through Oct. 5, participating restaurants will offer fixed-price menus that showcase local foods. See humboldtrestaurantweek.com for updated information and a list of participating establishments and offerings.

Every day we have the choice to consume what is produced close to us. The Eat Local Challenge encourages us to make the first steps. You can pledge to be a locavore, eating only locally grown or raised foods, at various levels: Relaxed (one meal per week), Lifestyle (one meal per day), Extreme (every meal, with a few exceptions) or Hardcore (every meal, with no exceptions). Information about the month-long event is available at the farmers' market in Arcata, Eureka and McKinleyville and at the North Coast Co-op stores in Arcata and Eureka.

Local Food Month is a time to celebrate food producers in our community for what they do, every day of every month, all year long. It's a splendid Thanksgiving in September.

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Simona Carini

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