Once again, I took the farm on the road to Pittsburgh's Farm to Table conference. This year's event was last weekend. As in past years, not only did I have a table in the exhibit hall, but I was one of the featured presenters as well.
Our table was loaded with good stuff!
The theme this year was "do it yourself" so I spoke on home canning. I called it "Home Canning 101" and put it together for folks who may have been interested in the idea of canning, but really didn't understand the process. It's hard to believe, but not too many years ago, that was where I was at. I didn't grow up with any relatives who put up their own food, so the process was a mystery to me. It's intimidating when you aren't familiar with the process, and haven't seen it done, and it's easy to make discouraging mistakes. As I shared in my talk, my husband & mother-in-law encouraged me to learn, but my first time was full of mistakes. Betty was in Florida and told me I was free to borrow her equipment, but I didn't exactly know what I was looking for. After the jars were processed in the boiling water, I had a devil of a time getting them out of the canner, and burnt my fingers a bit. It was enough to really discourage me. When Dan came home from work and I told him all about it, he asked why I didn't grab the jar lifters, too! Having someone explain the basics and show me the necessary tools would have been a great help, so that's what I aimed to do in my presentation. I was amazed at the attendance, for a Friday morning when lots of folks are working or at school, the room was quite full! I really hope I took some of the scariness out of the process and that some of the attendees will try it for themselves this summer!
As in past years, I had my vehicle fill to the brim with yummy stuff to sell. I'm pretty sure I'm known to plenty of repeat attendees as the "Carrot Cake Jam Lady", so I had lots of that on hand, plus other jams, mustards, pickles and other goodies. I had some new things this year, too. I had lots of Happy Mug coffee with me, and made the whole area around the table smell amazing, since it was roasted only 2 days before the conference began! I also brought plenty of handmade jewelry, which was well received. People really seemed to like the items that had glass pendants I made using stained glass scraps and old seed catalogs! ( I like to call them the "Wear Your Veggies" collection) I also brought a vase full of peacock feathers, since they are so eye-catching. But I had no idea they would be a big hit, or I would have brought more! I think just about every child that came on Saturday left with one, at least until I sold out!
Again, the conference seemed bigger than the year before. It's truly wonderful to see more & more people really motivated to eat better, and eat local. As Liz Kanche (one of the organizers) said to me before my presentation "Who knew, a couple years ago, that local food would be sexy?" and I do think we're getting there. It's a trend that gets bigger and more popular all the time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get to the point where it wasn't just a trend, or a movement, but simply the way things are done?
Some thanks are in order: to Liz & Erin for another great event: to everyone who attended my presentation- I hope you give canning a shot!: to everyone who stopped by our table in the exhibit hall- we appreciate your business and hope you'll come see us this summer; and finally to my mom, Robin Shea, for manning the table with me both days. I couldn't have done it without you!
And if you missed the event, or are already out of Carrot Cake Jam and need more, our online store is always open!