For the third annual Farm to Table conference, organizer Erin Hart says she's learned a lot from the successes of the past. The two-day conference, which includes a farmers' market, and gardening and cooking demonstrations, is run by Hart's corporate-wellness company, the American Health Care Group.
"For the last couple years it's been the choir" that the conference has preached to, Hart explains. "We're trying to bring the mainstream people in. If a teacher comes in and [then] brings the message to the classroom, it has a greater effect than someone who always shops at the East End Food Co-op and farmers' markets."
In an attempt to literally get those teachers in the door, the conference will offer them continuing-education credits. And Hart, who recently had a baby, realized a need to make the event more family-friendly: This year, there will be space set aside for kids and parents.
The event kicks off Friday night, April 3, with a food tasting where attendees can sample cheeses, breads, sprouts, honey, coffee, beer, wine and vodka, all made locally.
Hart says she's been putting an emphasis on making connections between programming and demonstrations. For instance, there will be a presentation by Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting Pennsylvania state apiarist, on "Honey Bee Decline: Why It Matters." Fascinating stuff, but a related tasting -- Burgh Bees will feature local honey -- will hopefully make the message hit closer to home.
Scheduled presenters include Joshua Burnett, from Grow Pittsburgh, on getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables; Rachel Lori, on cooking with local products; and Christopher Fullerton, from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, on the role of neighborhoods in creating local food systems.
Additionally, reflexologist and meditation teacher Dorit Brauer will lead a food-blessing meditation. Hart explains that Brauer believes everything is connected through the world's shared energy, and the meditation aims to connect people with the positive energy of the food.
But, Hart adds, there will be plenty to see and do, and people can choose what they attend. "There's a lot of work to do, there's a lot of people to reach," Hart says. "What I've been trying to do is connect more of our wellness programs that we do throughout the year to corporations and schools. We're barely scratching the surface."
April 3-4, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. $25. 412-563-8800 or www.pathwayswellnessprogram.com