Eat Local Week and Geraldson Community Farm

Transition Sarasota’s fourth annual Eat Local Week offers a tasty and hugely varied buffet of events for seven straight days starting this Friday, Food Day, with exhibitions and presentations, farm-to-fork meals, a “foodtrepreneur showcase,” plant walks and a lot more.

Eat Local Week also coincides with Sarasota County’s ninth annual Sustainable Communities Workshop, which takes place Wed., Oct. 29, and whose theme is “growing healthy, resilient and prosperous communities.” The workshop is a full day of talks and panel discussions covering everything from making fresh food more available to low-income residents to restoring Sarasota Bay.

The workshop’s keynote speaker is Michael Shuman, a noted economist and author whose work has centered around how small, local businesses create more prosperity for cities and regions than global chains. He has also analyzed the challenges local businesses face when trying to find investment capital, and has worked for reforms that make it easier for small-scale investors to direct their money toward local companies. (Read our interview with Michael Shuman.)

Geraldson Community Farm, Bradenton’s 20-acre certified organic community supported agriculture farm is also getting involved this week, with more planned for the near future.

“There’s a lot happening,” Christa Leonard says. No kidding.

She’s just given me a rundown on everything Geraldson Community Farm has scheduled for the coming months, a series of events that kicks off with this Saturday’s Fall Harvest Fest, part of Transition Sarasota’s fourth annual Eat Local Week. The afternoon festival will feature live music, hay rides, a bounce house, dozens of vendors, a dance and a rare fruit walk.

This weekend’s party also serves as a kickoff for the farm’s fall and spring growing season. While recent rain has set the farm back some, the Geraldson team is still planning for a first harvest in early November, with deliveries of its Community Supported Agriculture shares scheduled for Nov. 12.

Leonard says one of the farm’s major goals this season is to expand its range of events and to grow its roster of community partners, and with that in mind, the farm’s calendar for the next couple months is booked tight. After the harvest fest, in November, Geraldson is working on a wine tasting event at Sarasota’s Celery Barn Gallery and then teaming up with chef Dave Shiplett of Bradenton’s Soma Creek Side for a locavore prix fixe dinner. The farm also has multiple events planned with Darwin Brewing Co. in Bradenton, like a spring beer festival and a monthly craft and farmers’ market.

Add to that list the farm’s classes on topics like essential oils and juicing, its work with the Boys & Girls Clubs and another farm-to-table dinner it has planned. Also brewing: a Kickstarter campaign intended to raise money for a kids’ summer camp next year.

Whew. I’m exhausted just typing all that up. In addition to all the happenings, the farm is experimenting with new vegetable varieties and expanding its you-pick options.

And the farm’s not done planning its season. Leonard says Geraldson is still open to teaming up with new partners. “Our focus this season is on community and education,” she says. “We want to educate our community on ways to eat local and shop local and support their communities. We want to provide a space for people to come. We have 20 acres of beautiful land and it’s really nice to share that.”