CHESTERTOWN — The annual Locavore Lit Fest returns to Chestertown, March 27-30, with talks by nationally known writers and regional experts, this year with a focus on youth, nutrition and agriculture. Topics will include “Farm to School” programs and teaching children how to garden.
The weekend kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at the Bookplate bookshop with a wine and cheese tasting and a talk by Liza Goetz, agricultural science teacher at Kent County High School. Offered as a fundraiser for the festival, the wine and cheese tasting will feature local wines from Cassinelli, Crow Farm and Salisa wineries, and cheeses from Eve’s Cheese and Chapel Country Creamery. Donations will be accepted at the door. The Bookplate is located at 112 S. Cross Street in downtown Chestertown.
On Friday night on the Washington College campus, keynote speaker Chef Ann Cooper, a.k.a. the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” will discuss her latest book, “Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children.” A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with more than 30 years of experience as a chef, Cooper is a passionate advocate for better food for all children. She is now focused on creating a sustainable model for how the nation’s K-12 schools can transition from processed foods to whole foods that are procured regionally and prepared from scratch. She has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC’s Nightline, PBS and numerous other media outlets. Her talk begins at 7 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Gibson Center for the Arts, and will be followed by a Q&A and a mini farmers market featuring fresh produce.
The festival continues Saturday morning with open houses at the Washington College campus garden and the Kent County Middle School Victory Garden. Both gardens will be open to visitors from 10 a.m. to noon, with gardeners on hand to answer questions and showcase the early spring crops.
Saturday at 1 p.m., Amy Kalafa, the author of “Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health” and the filmmaker behind the documentary “Two Angry Moms,” will give a talk at Emmanuel Church hall in downtown Chestertown. For more than 25 years, Kalafa has produced award-winning films, television programs and magazine articles in the field of health education. A holistic health and nutrition counselor and a Lyme disease consultant, she holds a lectureship at the Yale School of Medicine and Psychiatry. A Q&A and book signing will follow her talk.
At 2:30 p.m., a panel of local farmers, food service professionals, educators and advocates will share perspectives on the challenges of bringing local foods to schools in our region. Karen Fedor, the Farm to School State Lead at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, will serve as moderator. Afterward, a reception will showcase locally sourced and freshly cooked school lunch alternatives prepared by students in professor Bill Schindler’s class, “Food, People and the Planet” at Washington College.
The festival concludes Sunday with an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s Sassafras Environmental Education Center at Knocks Folly, Turner’s Creek, outside of Kennedyville. Activities include hands-on gardening for children, canoeing (weather dependent), a guided walk while foraging Native American food pathways, and light snacks. SEEC’s primary mission is to help close the gap between children and the natural world by improving environmental literacy. It provides public school students with outdoor experiences that are integrated into their classroom curricula as they move through elementary, middle and high school, each year building on the previous year’s experience.
The Center for Environment & Society at Washington College sponsors the Locavore Lit Fest as part of its mission to support the free exchange of ideas about environmental issues. A number of other area sponsors also make this event possible.
With the exception of the wine tasting at the Bookplate, for which donations are suggested, all events are free. For more information, call 410-810-7162, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.washcoll.edu/centers/ces/center-events.php.