There is a real movement underway in Eaton County to connect local producers of fresh, quality food with local consumers. You can see evidence of this movement nearly every week at your local farmers market, which are taking place this summer in most communities in Eaton County.
Farmers markets, though, are just a small step towards a larger goal of improving the overall health, both physically and economically, of our local communities. One organization directly taking charge of building avenues towards attaining that goal is Eaton Good Food.
Started in 2012 this collaboration of now close to 60 organizations has adopted an Eaton Good Food Plan that outlines nine different strategies that will help to accomplish its mission of providing everyone with equitable access to safe, healthy and affordable food.
One of the strategies identified was the creation of an annual event to promote and celebrate Eaton County’s local food system, the health, education and economic power of good food — the Eaton Food & Ag Expo.
This year’s event will be held in conjunction with Eaton Farm Bureau Day at the Eaton County Fair on Monday, July 13. Eaton County Farm Bureau members get into the fair free all day and the free Eaton Food & Ag Expo will take place in Kardell Hall from 4 to 7 p.m.
“We’re hoping the public will come and see what programs they may quailify for that they can pursue,” said Jane Whitacre, Eaton County Commissioner and member of Eaton Good Food. “There is a lot going on in Eaton County and we want people to be aware of all that is available to them.”
The Eaton Food & Ag Fest will feature multiple ways for residents to connect with goods and services available throughout the county. The event will feature 50 different presenters and exhibitors, information on local farmers markets, food assistance programs in the county as well as a number of kids activities and games.
In addition, Denene Vincent of Le Chat Gourmet in Eaton Rapids will provide a cooking demonstration to show visitors the kinds of meals that can be prepared with local, fresh food.
“We really are aligning ourselves with the Michigan Good Food Charter, which is kind of a road map to lead us to improved health,” Whitacre said. “We are trying to get people to think about food as the resource it is. How you can support your neighbors and understand where your food comes from. This is about building a strong partnership between our local producers and the community members who can purchase their products.”