Nibbling on local food could help keep development from swallowing local farmland.
Thats the message of the second annual Summer Solstice Celebration on Saturday at Tait Farm in Harris Township. Featuring locally-produced and prepared dishes and beverages from restaurants, micro-brews and a winery, the festival will benefit the Centre County Farmland Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving farms.
I feel like its a celebration of our community, our agricultural roots, with the opportunity to bring awareness and do great work to preserve this incredible natural resource we have, Tait Farm owner Kim Tait said.
Festival visitors will have opportunities to sample donated wares from local establishments Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks, Harrisons Wine Grill and Catering, Ottos Pub and Brewery, Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery, Gamble Mill Restaurant and Microbrew, Zola New World Bistro and Tait Farm.
Admission is free, with $5 donations requested for parking. Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania, a group formed in 2005 that donates a portion of its art sales to the trust, will have a display of works by its members.
Other scheduled attractions include hayrides, live music, a childrens activity center and information booths sponsored by the Susquehanna chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, ClearWater Conservancy, and Local Food Journey, WPSUs food blog.
To highlight sustainability, food will be served in eco-friendly materials donated by Colorado-based Eco-Products.
Last years event attracted about 750 people. Norm Lathbury, executive director of Centre County Farmland Trust, said the celebration supports surveys, appraisals and other costs to acquiring farms. Those things arent cheap, he said.
Since its inception in 1996, the trust has preserved nine farms, representing 720 acres. Three more farms, comprising more than 300 acres total, are in the works.
According to the trust, Centre County contains 1,215 farms on 163,000 acres, and sells agricultural products worth more than $69 million annually. Dairy accounts for almost half of sales.
Lathbury said about two acres a day are lost to development, though the economy has slowed down the rate in recent years. The celebration, he said, also supports the trust by educating the public about its mission to save land for food production.
Tait said thats important because once farmland is developed, its gone forever.
They dont dig parking lots up, she said.
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter @CRosenblumNews