Whatcom Harvest Dinner, an annual fundraising event that celebrates locally grown food, is changing its focus this year with an emphasis on families and a new pricing structure that features a sliding scale.
Previous dinners have focused on the "foodie" aspect of the meal, said Mardi Solomon, coordinator of the Whatcom Farm to School program, which helps teach schoolchildren about nutrition and brings local foods into the schools.
"There's been a real effort this year to make the event more of a family event," Solomon said. "We want to teach people about local food and how to grow and harvest local food."
Part of the effort to make the dinner more accessible is the sliding-scale pricing strategy, said Sara Southerland, food and farming outreach coordinator at Sustainable Connections, the local environmentally conscious business organization.
In the past, dinners have been priced at $45 and have drawn hundreds of diners. This year, Southerland said, it's $50 for adults and $15 for children, but the sliding scale offers tickets as low as $25 for adults and $7 for children through Brown Paper Tickets (which charges a small service fee).
In addition, Southerland said all the groups that benefit from the dinner offer educational programs aimed at children and linked to food - Explorations Academy, Common Threads Farm, Sustainable Connections and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association.
As always, several local chefs are participating, ensuring that the menu will continue to offer an eclectic selection of dishes that reflect "the bounty of our local harvest," Southerland said.
Featured are appetizers such as pickled vegetables from Brandywine, Apple Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder Steamed Buns from Dashi Noodle and Chilled Black Currant Soup from Mallard Ice Cream. Breads and salads include Fattoush Salad with Ghanaian Koose from The Table and Samish River Potato Rolls from Breadfarm Bakery. Main dishes include Alder Smoked Salmon from Ciao Thyme. Desserts include Blueberry Coffeecake from Old Town Cafe and gluten-free Carrot Cake from Pure Bliss Desserts.
Part of the effort to educate participants about local and nutritious food is a booklet for all diners that includes local recipes and winning essays from the Picky Pat writing contest in local schools and kids' photographs from the Kids Eat Kale contest.
"It's not really that hard to make an affordable and delicious meal using local food," Solomon said.
Solomon also raved about the new BelleWood Acres facility, praising the company for its commitment to putting locally-grown apples on school lunch menus. "They are true Farm to School champions," she said.
The Whatcom Harvest Dinner is 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, at the new BelleWood Acres facility, 6410 Guide Meridian Road. For more information, including tickets and links to the menu, go online to whatcomharvestdinner.com. A handful of volunteer opportunities remained as of Tuesday morning.
DUCT TAPE ART
Local home store Hardware Sales is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend with a variety of events aimed at grownups and few fun possibilities for children, including a free Duct Tape Art Booth, said Ty McClellan, vice president of Hardware Sales.
"It's something for the kids to do with the new colored novelty duct tapes," McClellan said.
He said a Hardware Sales employee is particularly crafty in the duct-tape medium, and will help young hands fashion such items as purses and wallets from the ubiquitous sticky substance.
The booth will be open from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, in the parking lot to the rear of the store, 2034 James St. at Kentucky St.
Bellingham Parks and Recreation and the Whatcom Museum are offering a travelogue series this fall, featuring a variety of local speakers. This would be a good way to hear personal travel experiences for families with children who are considering overseas travel or study. First in the series is "Viet Nam and Laos: Making a Difference as a Volunteer While Traveling." It features Bellingham resident Analeise Volpe, who's traveled off the beaten path across Europe and Asia. It's at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, in the Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall galleries, 121 Prospect St. There's a suggested donation of $3.
ROBERT MITTENDORF is a Herald copy editor and page designer. Suggest your ideas for local family-friendly events or day trips at 360-756-2805 or at email@example.com.