If eating locally seems like an insurmountable challenge, the folks at the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale are gearing up to show you otherwise, and in one of the best ways possible: with a late-spring feast.
Rachel's Sustainable Feast takes place Sun., May 25, during Pittsburgh's Great Outdoors Week. The afternoon will see Pittsburgh food hotshots like big Burrito chef Bill Fuller and baker April Gruver from Vanilla Pastry Studio cooking up fabulous treats with an emphasis on local sourcing. The afternoon will be family-friendly, but La Casa Narcisi winery and East End Brewing will be on hand to quench the grown-ups.
The event will feature local vendors, farmers and growers, including Farmers at the Firehouse, Cherry Valley Organics, Mung Dynasty and Mildred's Daughters. La Prima Espresso will attend, with samples of its Rachel Carson Blend, an organic and fairly traded blend it developed to commemorate the influential environmentalist.
Groups such as Clean Water Action, Equita and the Sierra Club will also be represented at the feast, to let people know how they can green up their own lives and dinner plates.
"One of the things that needs a big boost is people have no clue they've got organic and sustainable agriculture within spitting distance," says Fiona Fisher, director of communications for the Rachel Carson Homestead Association. "We've close to 7,000 farms in the Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties. It's almost mind-boggling. When you think of the 100-mile diet, people could do that."
Fisher points out that farm shares, to which people can subscribe, can provide seasonal produce nearly year-round. Farmers' markets abound in the area, and lots of area restaurants place an emphasis on local foods. Eat N' Park, as well as its swankier Downtown sister eatery Six Penn, have long been committed to sustainable sourcing whenever possible.
In addition to a good-old-fashioned picnic, feast organizers are encouraging folks to get to Springdale in ways that have the least impact on the planet.
"We wanted to challenge people: Instead of one person, one car, think about it differently," Fisher says. "Maybe some enterprising souls will come up on their bikes, maybe somebody really brave will come on their kayak. We'll have a special prize for the most innovative." If you want to find out what the prize is, maybe you'd better shine up your solar-powered stilts.
Noon-5 p.m. Sun., May 25. Rain or shine. $5. www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org.