Once a year, Tallahassee pays tribute to the hard-working, dedicated farmers in our region, celebrating the riches of local land, fresh products and carefully honed skills.
This yearly tribute, Seven Days of Local Delights 2021, sponsored by the 501c3 nonprofit Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, offers a mix of programs to inform the public about the resources in our community. Gardening, cooking classes, beekeeping, ranching and farming are among the many highlights in our vital farming system.
While Seven Days will be different this year (like most every other event since the pandemic), the alliance has rallied to present a series of programs that will take place Feb. 22 to Feb. 28.
“Every year we celebrate the Seven Days of Local Delights with events designed to highlight the mission of the Alliance — to connect the community with our farmers, other food producers and community partners,” said Cari Roth, president of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance. “Usually it’s also a fundraiser to support our efforts to grow the local food economy, provide farmer education and increase food access. But this year we really wanted to focus on free programming for the community and to highlight our local restaurants.”
We also wanted to thank the community that has really supported the local food producers through the Red Hills Online Market during the pandemic,” said Cari. “You have given a huge shot in the arm to local food producers and we’re continuing to build”
In turn, the farming community has been of vital importance to our region during the pandemic, said chef Jessica Bright McMullen, owner of KitchenAble Cooking School and Catering in Tallahassee.
“Truly, through the pandemic, Red Hills has grown exponentially to provide for our needs even when our major grocery stores couldn’t do that. They’ve pulled us through. What better time to celebrate them?” said Jessica, who will be teaching two virtual classes during Seven Days of Local Delights using farm-produced foods such as Meyer Lemons, eggs, honey, grits and pork.
“The first thing people think of when they think of farm items is plants and vegetables, but we also have a lot of good farms that produce meat,” she said. “We are so fortunate to live in such a rich area with a true bounty of crops and all kinds of agriculture that surrounds us.”
Derek Phillips, co-owner of Handsome Harvest farm in Quincy with husband Aaron Nicely, noted that during the pandemic, their farm has had “a strong demand and we are expanding production to meet it.”
“The Red Hills Online Market has exploded in growth and continues to see great sales and product availability,” said Derek, who will be participating in the “Ask a Farmer” event on Facebook Live Feb. 28.
The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance is committed to helping small farms in the region, established in 2010 by four women in agriculture — Katie Harris, Louise Devine, Mary Russ and Malini Ram — in the Tallahassee area.
The online market run by the alliance allows the public to order items produced by farmers and artisans without having to leave home. All items sold are grown or produced at farms within a 100-mile radius of Tallahassee.
“We are now over 90 farmers, 1,000 customers strong and growing,” according to the farm alliance website.
This year, Seven Days of Local Delights will be offering virtual cooking classes, wine and cheese tasting and gardening education events.
“Several local restaurants will be having delicious specials throughout the week featuring fresh, local ingredients,” said Cari
Participating restaurants in Tallahassee are: The Bark, The Hawthorn Bistro & Bakery, Il Lusso, Kool Beanz Cafe, Liberty Bar & Restaurant, Sage: A Restaurant and Sweet Pea Cafe. In Monticello, Tupelo’s Bakery & Cafe and in Thomasville, Chop House on the Bricks, Liam’s Restaurant and Sweet Grass Dairy cheese shop.
The event, said Cari, is still “a diverse celebration of local foods and the people who grow and prepare it.”
Feb. 22, 7 p.m.: At 7 p.m., chef Jessica Bright McMullin will teach a class on how to turn a basket of local Meyer lemons into a delicious tart also using local eggs and honey. Watch on Facebook
Feb. 23, 7 p.m.: Sweet Grass Dairy and Hummingbird Wine Bar will pair up for a wine and cheese tasting. Purchase a curated cheese kit that includes two limited production cheeses and more. The two cheeses are a heart-shaped Green Hill, the dairy’s double cream cow’s milk cheese with a white bloomy rind, and Tufo, the truffle-flavored Tomme. Visit this link to purchase the box and get info on the wine.
Feb. 24, Feb. 28: “Ask a Farmer” sessions with Daniel Miranda of Legacy Greens on Feb. 24 and Derek Phillips of Handsome Harvest on Feb. 28. Details to come at redhillsfarmalliance.com/seven-days
Feb. 25, 6 p.m.: Here’s gardening help for your own backyard. This virtual workshop will discuss how to start a raised bed vegetable garden with Mark Tancig and Molly Jameson, extension agents with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Learn how to choose the best site location, basics of irrigation, planting dates and plant spacing, the difference between treated and untreated lumber, how much and what type of soil to use, and tips for growing spring vegetables. Register here to get the Zoom link.
Feb. 26, 7 p.m.: Jessica will demonstrate how to make the best grits with heritage stone-ground grits and locally-farmed pork sausage gravy. Watch on Facebook.
Feb. 27, noon: Join the Damayan Garden Project for an interactive experience expanding the community garden by planting veggies for the spring. At the garden Installation at the Frenchtown Heritage Hub, 524 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd..