Craig Dagan, MMA Sports Director
and Jessica Brophy
While Sunday’s driving rain may have dampened attendance at events held all over the Island for the first-ever Local Foods Festival, the event was a success, said Chamber of Commerce member and Inn on the Harbor owner Christina Shipps.
“The festival drew people from all over the country,” said Shipps. She said a book signing held at the Inn drew between 50 and 60 people.
Festival events ranged from cookbook signings to workshops, cider pressing to discussions of sustainable fisheries. While rain did necessitate the cancellation of a few outdoor events, most went on as scheduled, said Shipps.
The Deer Isle Hostel in Sunshine hosted a series of workshops on topics such as organic gardening, fermentation and cider making. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association marketing consultant and food activist Cheryl Wixson offered a workshop hosted by the hostel on Sunday, September 30, on the finer points of the long-standing tradition of root-cellaring.
Root cellars have traditionally been used as a way to keep vegetables and fruits after harvest without processing such as freezing or canning. Wixson says the goal is to keep vegetables cool, under 40 degrees but above freezing. Most vegetables also need to be kept humid to avoid drying out (as they so often do in the refrigerator).
“The goal is to put the vegetables to sleep, and keep them in hibernation,” said Wixson, who then “shops” for vegetables all winter long from her root cellar. Wixson buys most of her vegetables in bulk from farmers, but home gardeners can “put by” vegetables they grow themselves.
Other events included fresh cider making at the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society. Local apples were chopped with a grinder and then squashed with a refurbished cider press to yield gallons of dark amber cider.
Wes Norton, Island Fellow, said he refurbished the press, which had been on the Island for many years. Dozens of people attended the pressing, taking time to peruse the Historical Society’s heirloom gardens and exhibits.
Shipps said that she organized the festival herself, and while she thinks it has potential and is willing to help and hand off the festival to other planners and organizers, she is not interested in organizing the event for next year.