Celebrating Local Food and Ugly Vegetables

by Estelle Drisdelle on September 22, 2014

CFI hosted an ugly vegetable picnic on the fall solstice as part of an exhibition with Owens Art Gallery and guest curator Eryn Foster.  The art symposium celebrated the interconnection between food, art, and community with artists and community partners hosting workshops, meals, presentations, and events.


Food Being Perpared by Chef Rob MacNeish


CFI’s Ugly Vegetable Picnic celebrated food in its purest form by showing that scars, bug marks, and wonky shapes do not change the taste and final presentation of food. Farmers put countless hours into growing food only to select produce that is esthetically pleasing – often composting perfectly edible malformed vegetables.


 Wysmykal Farm

Wysmykal Farm: Organic Veggies for our Picnic


With all the time, money, and fossil fuels that have gone into growing these less than perfect veggies – is it not time to celebrate what really matters? Tasty, pure, and pesticide free food!


Everyone Sits and Enjoys the Picnic


The day ended with a tour of CFI’s Food Forest garden – also showing that growing food does not have to look perfect either.  Producing food and medicine in the image of nature is a main goal of creating a garden that is of similar design to a forest.  In the image of nature means animals, soil, resilience, water and climate are all factors that influence design.


Native Forest Garden Tour: Grapes and Elderberries Above - Fiddleheads, Wild Sarsparilla, Wild Ginger, and Bayberry Below


Straight rows and single plants might have a place in our food systems – but we can restore land while growing food. Growing food by observing nature often means designing a wild and less controlled place. The beauty of a food forest is showing how people are part of the natural world and not separate from it.  


Do looks matter? Probably not as much as we think. Healthy food and resilience landscapes should come first.


A big thank-you to Owens Art Gallery, Eryn Foster, Wysmykal Farm and chef Rob MacNeish for making this event possible.

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