Chef Stephane Gawlowicz is on the hunt. He was trawling the Lemont farmers market at the Granary on Wednesday, seeking produce but also connections with the farmers who sell there. Traveling with a pocket knife, he topped off the green cap and sliced into a strawberry at Mark MacDonald’s Bee Tree Berry Farm table. He liked what he saw.
“It’s very ripe, very red,” he said.
He popped half into his mouth and handed the other half to his 8-year-old daughter Klara to sample. He pinched off a piece of apple mint and tucked it into the next strawberry that he sliced, making a little sandwich.
“Peppery,” he declared. “It’s a nice touch.”
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Liking what he found, he got the contact info for the farm and made a plan to go out and see the operation and find out what fruit would be available for the dinner he is planning for mid-July.
Summer in central Pennsylvania is always a treat, with work and school schedules scaled back so that “we, the lucky ones” can fully appreciate the abundant natural resources of our region, like the farmers markets and the strawberries.
It’s sort of a secret. Most folks think that fall is our time to shine — when the masses congregate for football, football and football; but, au contraire, not to those in the know. Summer is chill here, except for the week of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, and the ripe fruits of the forest and field are ours to enjoy and savor.
Those ripe fruits are here as long as the plants that bear them get pollinated. June is all a-buzz with bees and butterflies busy moving from flower to flower. Take a moment in the garden to observe the busy intensity of the bee and the graceful pause of the butterfly as they feed on favorite flowers and serve the plant’s reproductive cycle. But today those flying pollinators need help to overcome the effects of humankind’s damage to their habitat, whether incidental — through loss of habitat due to development — or purposeful — as in the case of herbicides and pesticides to eradicate native species of plants deemed worthless.
This eco-crisis is addressed in a creative way by the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County, which is kicking off its 2016 Summer Project Sunday afternoon with a free public open house and reception to launch the program, “Gardening in Central Pennsylvania.”
The “Butterfly Memories” exhibit by local artists Jennifer Tucker and Gerald Lang is featured in the Windows Gallery and is dedicated to the work and memory of the recently deceased Robert Snetsinger, known as “Butterfly Bob,” an entomologist who devoted his life to promote butterflies and butterfly gardening.
The exhibit features photographic scans of actual butterflies from the collection of Lepidopterists Society member Jordan Finkelstein. Lepidoptery, the scientific study of butterflies and moths, promotes an appreciation of these transformative creatures, often considered symbolic of human souls.
The open house celebrates the launch of the two-month-long gardening program, as well as new art work in all the galleries. The open house runs from noon to 4:30 p.m. with a special children’s art activity taking place upstairs in the Creativity Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday’s menu will feature strawberry punch and seasonal snacks prepared with enthusiasm by the museum’s hospitality committee.
Two other events are free and open to the public and will take place at the museum. With a light and typical air of whimsy, the June 12 “My Fair Lady Flower Project” from 1 to 4 p.m. will celebrate the garden’s harvest with bright floral displays by local flower growers and a costumed Eliza Doolittle.
Tait Farm will have samples of their products to taste and also products available for sale as a fundraiser for the museum. On July 3, a first Sunday open house and reception will feature red, white and blue flowers with artists Roxy Naydan, Nancy Brassington, Lena Thynell and Jeff Mathison. As for every first Sunday, a children’s art activity will take place in the Creativity Center.
One public event that will take place on July 16 is a special gala fundraiser for the museum and the forces behind it are moving already to get all the pieces in place.
“Monet’s Picnic” will be held at Linden Vale, the historic home of Steve and Linda Weaver in Linden Hall. Artists on site will paint en plein air and a jazz ensemble will play French selections.
The French picnic dinner will be prepared by Gawlowicz, his wife, Joehy Verfaille, and Jeff Varcoe. The event will take place in the garden of the Weavers’ recently restored 1835 Federal-style home above Cedar Run, and the tickets are $100 per person. Gawlowicz grew up in Paris and attended culinary school there for three years before operating his own restaurants in Nantes, France, and Baltimore, with Verfaille, a Baltimore native. The menu will focus on the bright, fresh flavors of local foods at the peak of summer.
Gawlowicz has been in central Pennsylvania for four years and has worked at Penn State for the past three. The “Monet’s Picnic” event will give him a chance to pay homage to his French culinary sensibilities rooted in seasonality. “May, June, July — it’s wonderful here. For chefs, there’s nice variety, but the season is short so I want to enjoy every minute of it. It’s short but intense.”
Gawlowicz’s menu includes smoked trout rillette with fresh herbs, baguettes with local ham and mushrooms, country style pork terrine with pickles, chicken breast with shrimp and several vegetarian options, including a grilled watermelon and goat cheese quenelle dish with preserved lemon. Classic French desserts — madeleines, truffles and lavender creme brulee — will end the dinner on a sweet note. And, thanks to the early shopping excursion, Bee Tree berries will be featured in there somewhere.
Mount Nittany Wines will be flowing from the nearby vine-covered slope. Linda is the daughter of Joe and Betty Carroll, winery founders and owners, and she is now the marketing manager and Steve the business manager. Both are firmly rooted in their reinvented lives at the winery after careers in Pittsburgh where they raised their three sons.
In addition to the free public events and the fundraiser, there are 11 additional events in June and July that are free for members of the museum. Keep in mind that membership is $40 per individual or family and buys entrance to guided insider tours of gardens throughout the Centre Region. There is no better way to learn about gardening than from gardeners who are standing in their gardens — guaranteed. Most member-only events require a reservation in advance.
The Bellefonte Art Museum is a community resource that celebrates each summer season with an annual project that focuses on our local treasures. Museum director Pat House is the dynamo behind this arts institution centered at the Linn House on Allegheny Street in Bellefonte.
House was a transplant from Southern California with a career in museums there, as well as in Santa Fe and is a collector of African art herself. She chose to move here in 2005 to be close to family — her first grandchild was 1 at the time — and she moved into a historic home on the banks of Spring Creek and soaked up the ambiance of the life in rural Pennsylvania, getting in the flow.
In 2006, she was recruited to revitalize the Bellefonte Art Museum, and she has fully succeeded in creating a dynamic art community that embraces diversity as much as it embraces the solid limestone ties that bind us here in this time and place.
The first summer project, in 2013, “Waterways of Central PA,” featured art created streamside throughout the area, as well as interactive exhibits and special events with water conservation groups in the area. The summer of 2014 featured “Food, Glorious Food” and last year’s project focused on “International Happy Valley.”
Each year the momentum builds and the team of players expands. Be a part of the transformation that is taking place here in Centre County and take the time to appreciate all that we have around us.
For more information about the “Gardening in Central Pennsylvania” summer project, check out their website www. bellefontemuseum.org or call 355-4280.
Anne Quinn Corr is the author of “Seasons of Central Pennsylvania,” of several iBook cookbooks (“Food, Glorious Food!” “What’s Cooking?!” and “Igloo: Recipes to Cure the Winter Blues”) that are available for free on iTunes. She regularly posts to the blog HowToEatAndDrink. com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Events For Members Only
Wednesday: Enjoy the power of flowers at the home garden and home studio of artist Karen Deutsch and satirist/gardener Steven Deutsch, with both real and artistically represented blossoms. Meet at their home in State College from 3 to 5 p.m. No charge. Limit 30 members.
June 15: Join Jennifer Tucker at the museum and learn ways to appease the senses and enrich health and beauty with herbs. Explore the history and uses for common herbs. Presentation is from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a social hour. Some products will be available for purchase, but the presentation is free. Limited to 20 guests.
June 22: Workshop to decorate a sun-garden hat with artist Linna Muschlitz. Bring a hat or use one provided. Materials available. Event to be held at the museum from 5 to 7 p.m. with a suggested donation of $20.
June 25: Visit “Marsh Creek Gardens” and the historic “Marsh Cottage” with master gardener Beverly Harader, Nancy Smith, president of the Tyrone Historical Society, and educator Neil Smith on hand to answer your questions and share experiences. Enjoy lemonade and cookies under the shade of leafy trees at this private garden from 4 to 6 p.m. No charge.
July 6: Tour Cramer Farms, a small-scale family farm in Nittany Valley, from 4 to 6 p.m. Cramer Farms grows more than 90 varieties of vegetables on four acres using organic practices. Learn about community supported agriculture farming and how it plays a role in preserving our local farms and boosting the local economy. No charge for visit and light refreshments will be served. Some produce will be available for purchase.
July 14: Join art enthusiasts at the reception for the “2016 Images Juried Exhibition Awards Reception” of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, sponsored this year by the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County. The reception will be held in the Schlow Centre Region Library at 6 p.m. No charge. No RSVP needed.
July 22: Visit Rose Franklin’s “Butterfly Farm” in Spring Mills at 11 a.m., and spend the afternoon learning about the life cycle of the butterfly, its importance to environmental health and the issues threatening its existence. Rose Franklin will provide a complimentary lunch. Butterfly friendly plants available for purchase. No charge. Limited to 75 guests.
July 24: Enjoy an afternoon in the English Gardens of Penny and John Blasko, from 3 to 5 p.m., located in the midst of beautiful woods and planted with flowers. The garden features a pond with native rocks. Limited to 20 guests. No charge.
July 26: Take a demonstration class, “How to paint a garden,” with artist Anne Kenyon at the museum. Artists and nonartists welcome from 5 to 7 p.m. Painting gardens provide the artist with color and texture. Kenyon will discuss painting gardens, as well as painting as inspiration for your garden design. Several of her garden paintings will be on exhibit during the class. No charge.
July 27: Join Jennifer Tucker at the museum and learn ways to appease the senses and enrich health and beauty with herbs. Explore the history and uses for common herbs. Presentation is from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a social hour. Some products will be available for purchase, the presentation is free. Limited to 20 guests.
July 30: Visit Tait Farms and enjoy a unique “behind-the-scenes” tour with Kim Tait. Learn what is new in organic farming/gardening practices in the fields, in the greenhouses and in the flower cutting and cottage pollinator gardens. Complimentary wine, fruit shrub and Tait Farm snacks will be served from 10 a.m. to noon. No charge.
Karen Baker from the Bellefonte Art Museum Hospitality Committee shares the recipe for the punch that they will serve Sunday at the museum.
▪ One 12-ounce can of frozen limeade
▪ One 12-ounce can of frozen lemonade
▪ 1 package of frozen strawberries in syrup
▪ 1-2 liters of lemon-lime soda
Mix all together. To keep cool add frozen strawberries so it will not be diluted.