A Preview of the Boston Local Food Festival

By Elizabeth Hathaway | PublicRadioKitchen.com

Just a day away now: The Boston Local Food Festival! In anticipation of this second annual celebration of local food, healthy eating and sustainable living, we caught up with Fan Watkinson, the Project Director of SBN Food Programs, and a primary organizer of the 2010 Festival. She told us what to expect from this year’s new and improved festival, and how we can do our part to help meet the festival’s Zero Waste goal.

Check out our interview below, and then come down to Fort Point Channel between 11-5 tomorrow for great food, music, DIY booths, demonstrations and  local craft beer tastings. And at 2 p.m. meet up with PRK, Here & Now Host Robin Young, and WBUR listeners to share your festival finds! More info on the meet up is here.

PRK: What feedback did you get from last year’s festival, and how did you use it to expand this Saturday’s second annual Boston Local Food Festival?

FW: We were delighted with the positive response from the 2010 participants, quantified by strong survey results from vendors and partners and abundant positive blog articles and photos from participants.

Given last year’s enthusiastic attendance of over 30,000 people, we have expanded the footprint. In addition to the park and wharf area outside Boston Children’s Museum, the festival will run beneath Seaport Blvd/Moakley Bridge to the parking lot in front of Barking Crab and end at the beautiful outdoor grotto of Daily Catch for the Local Craft Brew tastings.

The new area outside Barking Crab/Daily Catch will have an additional music performance stage and more local food booths and demos, including the Fish Stock area with a Seafood Throwdown organized by Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). We have added three ATM’s in response to the request for more cash access and a bike valet supported by MassBike and Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness. The Local Craft Brew Tasting will have three sessions starting at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 4 pm to better manage the crowds. Tickets are pre-sold on-line via our website. There will be 6 food trucks, a first for a festival of this type in Boston. We have also added two Do It Yourself demo booths where layfolks can share skills such as food dehydration, pickling, kombucha making, etc.

PRK: Have these expansions caused the festival’s mission and goals to change, or grow?

FW: Boston Local Food Festival continues to be committed to its goal of Healthy Local Food for All with festival decisions made in accordance with its values to support local, green and fair initiatives. Organized by Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston, the festival is especially unique in its commitment to the support and promotion of locally owned independent businesses – in this case as sponsors, producers, restaurants, farmers, fishermen, suppliers, etc. In 2011, we are setting higher goals, several being: 1) the amount of local ingredients included in the food offered and 2) the amount of refuse composted or recycled (Last year we hit 75% and are striving for 90% this year.)

PRK: Your commitment to a Zero Waste festival is impressive. How can festival-goers play their past?

FW: Festival goers can help in many ways with our commitment to zero waste and sustainability:

  • purchase one of our reusable festival bags for your shopping
  • donate excess produce from your garden to the Crop Share program
  • dispose of your waste in the appropriate container
  • bring your own water bottle
  • arrive by public transportation, a bike or carpool.

PRK: What would be the best outcome in demonstrable, quantifiable terms, of this year’s Boston Local Food Festival?

FW: Videos, news articles, reports, photos and blogs documenting a glorious festival day where:

  • all vendors are busy selling out
  • 40,000 festival goers of diverse cultures, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds are arriving by foot, bike and T and are enjoying delicious varieties of food and engaged in the numerous learning opportunities throughout the day
  • professional and amateur food folks are drawing huge crowds to their demonstrations
  • exhibitors are flocked with families learning more about food and healthy choices
  • 17 performance groups are enthusiastically applauded
  • 250 volunteers are smiling and busily participating in the success of the day
  • 90% of waste is composted or commingled
  • the festival site is quiet and clean and all have happily gone home by 7 pm

PRK: What, in your opinion, is the biggest, don’t-miss attraction or event of this year’s festival?

FW: This is an impossible question as the entire event is a don’t miss attraction! I hope everyone comes early and stays long enough to explore all aspects.

That said, timely activities include the arrival of the fishing boat and Seafood Throwdown at 12 noon, the Harbor Walk tour of Fort Point at 1 pm, the Local Craft Brew Tasting sessions starting at 11am and a myriad of stage performances and demonstrations scheduled throughout the day.