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FARMSTOCK – A Regional Homegrown Festival

Farmstock panorama
FARMSTOCK is a community-building event that provides an opportunity for small-scale local farmers to connect with potential consumers in an informal setting. People of like minds with respect to food will be able to discuss and exchange ideas, experience new tastes, and enjoy good local music.

On Saturday and Sunday, September 3 – 4, farmer and former restauranteur Fred Johnson is teaming up with KMUN to host Farmstock: a regional homegrown festival on his historic farm in Naselle, Washington. Farmstock, a locavore carnival of sorts, is a celebration of the food and music of our North Coast region.

Johnson has wanted to hold an event like Farmstock for some time. “To me, it really starts with our taste buds: the idea of knowing the difference between a crappy store tomato and a real, tasty, home-grown tomato. There’s genius in that flavor and it happens with so many different vegetables. It’s the nutrition that we’re putting into the soils; it’s the care and the love, it’s the freshness of eating something the same day it’s harvested… it matters.  What a revelation, nutrition tastes good! With our modern-day food systems, we’ve got a quantitative product, but there’s not that qualitative nutritional edge to it.”

Everybody recognizes good flavor. That’s what Farmstock is about, giving people a chance to experience what local tastes like.”

Fred JohnsonAfter years of working as a chef in the Atlanta area, Johnson experienced an “aha moment” when he accepted a position at Meadowcreek, a 1600-acre preserve and educational facility for sustainability in Arkansas. For Johnson, the job at Meadowcreek was a way to get out of Atlanta, but it was there that he was first exposed to working with the beautiful fresh-out-of-the-garden produce raised organically onsite. “It had this quality that I had never experienced before. It completely changed my whole culinary life.”

Johnson says, “Once you’ve had that flavor, it’s really hard to go back and put up with the produce you get from the restaurant purveyors. McDonald’s and ‘Chez Whatever’ are using the same tomatoes. It’s just that we, as chefs know all these tricks that cover for the fact that it’s an inferior product.”

Referring to his own farm grown vegetables, Johnson states: “Eating this stuff, is like the real McCoy. I’d never cooked with such passion toward food before and it changed me. That’s why I came to the Pacific Northwest, because this area is cutting edge.”

For several years, Johnson operated a successful restaurant on Vashon Island, Washington, but was still unable to get the farm-fresh produce at a price that his customers would support. Selling the restaurant and buying the farm in Naselle enabled him to finally combine his twin loves for cooking food and growing food.

A partial summary of  Farmstock events follows:

KIM ANGELIS will open the ticketed concert at 7:30pm at the main stage on Saturday. Admission for this event is tentatively priced at $5. Local musicians Niall Carroll, Tim Root, The Oyster Boys, and others will perform from 1 – 6pm.

FREE WORKSHOPS are scheduled for 10 -11:30am and 1 – 5pm on Saturday. Subjects include: “Seed Saving,” “Poultry and Other Farm People,” “Biochar,”  “Blacksmithing,” “Cottage Industry for Farming and Homesteading,” and more.

Johnson Farm

Fred Johnson will be crafting farm pizzas with local fresh ingredients all day Saturday. Other munchies will be available as well. The Fort George Beer Garden will be open from 1 – 10pm on Saturday.  At 10pm, following the concert, gather around the bonfire for music, conversation, and dancing into the night. Onsite camping will be available.

Farmstock culminates on Sunday with a plenary discussion for stakeholders in our region’s sustainable future from 10am – 1pm.  A special Farmhouse Sunday Dinner at 1pm caps the festival. The dinner will be created from locally sourced ingredients. Seating is limited; dinner tickets are $25 and are available from KMUN through August 19.

KMUN is putting out a call to anyone interested in helping out with Farmstock. Vendors and are invited sell farm goods, arts and crafts, and more. Exhibitors are welcome. Chefs are encouraged to discuss and demonstrate their approaches to locally sourced and sustainable cuisine, either as presenters or vendors. A small fee of $10 will be charged to exhibit or vend. Volunteers are wanted to help with setting up, food and beverage service, general schlepping, cleanup, etc.

INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING in the production of Farmstock? Call Tom Hartland at 503-325-0010, or email KMUNfarmstock@gmail.com. For the Farmstock flyer and schedule, go to: coastradio.org/farmstock.html.

KaleADMINSSION TO FARMSTOCK IS FREE, parking is $5 per vehicle, camping (no hookups) is $20 per vehicle. No dogs are allowed except service animals. Proceeds from fees and tickets support KMUN and Coast Community Radio.

FRED’S FARM IS LOCATED at 201 South Valley Rd. in Naselle, Washington. Turn right off Hwy 401 in Naselle, just past Okie’s Sentry Market, onto South Valley Rd. Continue for about a mile. The farm is on the left.

Fred Johnson, a chef and former restaurant owner raises vegetables and organically certified hay on the 70-acre historic farm that he has owned since 2003. He is especially known for his tomatoes and greens. He sells produce to local restaurants, and to the public via CSA subscription. He caters weddings and other events at the farm and owns a hardwood flooring business. Visit him online at fredshomegrown.blogspot.com.

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