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The word “Community” was in the air Tuesday evening at Coppercraft Distillery when approximately 130 people and over 20 different local businesses gathered together for a night of celebrating local foods.
For the event local restaurants were paired with vendors from The Holland Farmer’s Market and were instructed to collaborate and create a dish using the farmer’s fresh products.
People attending were able to float from one table to the next tasting small plates of carefully crafted dishes from each restaurant. Attendees also were able to mingle with the local vendors as well as the owners and chefs from the six participating restaurants including American Char, Butch’s Dry Dock, Farmhouse Deli and Pantry, Salt and Pepper Savory Grill and Pub, and Salt of the Earth.
“You get to speak to the owners and you get to speak to the people who are so passionate about what they do and that makes a connection to the experience that’s deeper than just going to the grocery store,” said Program and Event Coordinator of Local First Hanna Schulze.
The project resulted in six widely different dishes that were also paired with a complementing local beverage from businesses including Coppercraft Distillery, Fenn Valley Winery, Our Brewing Company or Virtue Ciders. The event was topped off with Lemonjello’s specialty pour-over coffee and dessert from JK’s Bakehouse and Deli.
Local First began back in 2003 in Grand Rapids. When asked what people should know about Local First Schulze said, “We really exist to highlight the local businesses that drive our local economy and that they are really the glue that holds the community together.”
Peter Sweeney from Farmhouse Deli and Pantry said that they go to the Holland Farmer’s Market every Wednesday and Saturday to buy the local foods. “I would hate to go to a place where everything is corporate,” Sweeney said.
The event highlighted the strong connections the restaurants have with surrounding farms and vendors. Austen Fresham, head chef at Butch’s, had nothing but good things to say about their partners at Visser Farms. “We get stuff from them four days a week in the summertime,” says Fresham.
Chefs and Gather goers alike were asked why they think it’s important to support local farms. Attendee Betsy Koop said she attended “To support our local economy and to support the farmers that work so hard!” Head Chef of American Char Len Towne mentions the importance of supporting local vendors. “They’re working so hard so why wouldn’t you support someone like that?”
Kara de Alvare, marketing coordinator for the Farmer’s Market said: “Anyone that has been to the Farmer’s Market on a busy Saturday morning would agree that Gather is the perfect name for this event. The Holland Farmer’s Market is truly a place where people come together to experience and build community.” The evening showcased just that as people attending got to speak with the faces behind the foods.
Contributed by Hannah Jacobsma from Hope College. Photo courtesy of Junebug Photography.