Sunday, August 15, 2010

SC's arts/food/social justice renaissance is ON

When I moved back to my hometown of Columbia, SC in April 2009, I could tell that I'd have a pretty sweet life here, especially in terms of reconnecting with loved ones (like my Dad!)

But I had no idea just *how exciting* it is to be here and participate in the very real arts, local food, and social justice renaissance that's going on in South Carolina.

I wake up every day stoked.

And then I make a cup of locally roasted fair trade coffee and get all up in it!

Co-creating and co-producing the recent new non-profit tomato festival here in Cola, SC was such a blast.

Man, it was a lot of work, but I truly loved working with my fellow co-planners: Ryan Nevius, head of Sustainable Midlands; Kristen DuBard, head of Slow Food Columbia, and Eric McClam, City Roots farm manager.

Talk about some excellent people: brilliant, driven, passionate and highly effective organizers/implementers/leaders who are also laid back, fun-loving, and light-hearted. Rad!

Can't wait til next year's tomato festival. (Or those Bloody Marys that Brad from Spotted Salamander whipped up using local honey, molasses, and spices.)

More on all that below, reposted from

image: Jonathan Sharpe
On Sunday, August 8, 2010, close to 500 sustainability-minded, local tomato-loving guests gathered at City Roots Farm in Columbia, SC to celebrate sustainably grown local food and backyard farming. 

It was a fantastic gathering and we can't wait for the next one, scheduled for high summer 2011!

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design: Thomas Jennings, The Half and Half

Local nonprofits Slow Food Columbia and Sustainable Midlands worked with the amazing urban farm venue, City Roots, to create a new annual festival that achieves the following:

*Showcase the taste of sustainably grown local tomatoes  

*Explore the many varieties of tomatoes being grown in SC 

*Honor the chefs, community leaders and farmers who prioritize an all-local, green approach to foodways

*Assemble our wonderful food community in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere

*Eat, drink and be merry on the farm!


image: T. Broom
At the first-ever Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival on Sunday, August 8, 2010, the multi-generational crowd enjoyed a side-by-side tasting of commercially bred vs. locally grown heirloom tomato varieties sourced by Rosewood Market and donated by Rodger Winn (with tasty baguette slices and centerpieces donated by Earth Fare), as well as a Homegrown Tomato Contest with local foodie celeb judges.

Image: Jonathan Sharpe
With its rich agricultural history, hot climate, and strong community of international heirloom enthusiasts, South Carolina produces some crazy looking, delicious tasting tomatoes. 

Check out this chocolate striper -- part of the 30-40lb