We live in a county that has much to offer. Rich farmland, comfortable housing, good food and innovative chefs, artisanal ice cream and cheese, tasty meat and beautiful vegetables and fruits. Fortunately, we also have hard-working people who recognize that not everyone in Bucks County can afford to partake in this bounty.
Back in 2009, Cathy Snyder was volunteering at Fisherman’s Mark, the food pantry in Lambertville, handing out macaroni & cheese, canned goods and the like to the clients. Afterwards, she drove over to New Hope to do her own shopping at the New Hope Farmers’ Market. She was struck by the difference in the quality and freshness of the food. Why couldn’t people coming to food pantries get the same good food?
Snyder approached the farmers at the market and asked what happened to the produce that didn’t sell. In many cases, it went onto the compost pile back at the farm. When she asked if she could have it instead to bring to the food pantry, the farmers were happy to oblige. So began a new venture, Gas Guzzling for Good (Snyder chose the name because she felt she was making good use of a huge SUV that her family won as a prize).
Fast forward four years and Rolling Harvest Food Rescue now collects produce from 21 farms and distributes it to over two dozen hunger relief sites, serving people in need in Bucks and Hunterdon counties. In 2011, Snyder and her all volunteer crew picked and delivered more than 23,000 lbs. of food. In 2012, they distributed more than 48,000 lbs. and they are on track to significantly increase that number in 2013.
In the course of keeping up the Food Events Calendar on Bucks County Taste, I see a lot of fundraisers, many of which look very enticing. But the wallet and the waistline force me to choose carefully which ones Mark and I will attend. When Snyder told me that Rolling Harvest Rescue would be holding an event in October, I didn’t hesitate to buy tickets.
I also rarely write about an event that has already taken place. But this was fun and a lot of farms and people got together to make a great fundraiser for a really effective organization.
A warm, October evening, promising a beautiful sunset. An old farm in Pipersville, classic Bucks County, with a huge barn, stone farmhouse and fields that stretch to the horizon. Guests streaming in, parking in the fields, walking and laughing, enjoying the last feel of summer. And before us – tables filled with delectable dishes, all made from local produce, and crafted and cooked by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirscheimer (Canal House Cooking), along with help from Max Hansen (Max Hansen Catering), and several dozen young volunteers.
The farm is owned by Jill Kearney and Stephen McDonnell. McDonnell is CEO of Applegate, producer of organic and natural meat products like hot dogs, deli, burgers and sausage, all nitrate free. You’ve probably seen their products in your local supermarket and natural food stores. Let me tell you, I just tried their soppressato, and I was impressed. Applegate donated several kinds of chicken sausage for the grill. The line for the hot dogs got long very quickly, especially since Max Hansen was manning the fire and his multi-colored potato salad, with potatoes from Gravity Hill Farm, was sitting on a nearby table.
Hamilton and Hirscheimer were making Pan Con Tomato with Seasoned Ricotta from Fulper Farm, and tomatoes from Gravity Hill Farm and Blue Moon Acres Farm. Bread from Crossroads Bake Shop grilled, drizzled with olive oil, spread with a tomato mixture and topped with the fresh ricotta. Every time I went to get one, there was a line and Hamilton was making them as fast as she could.
Another big favorite was the Tuscan Kale Salad with White Turnip slaw, Baby Shitake Mushrooms, micro greens, again from Blue Moon Acres, and contributions from Blooming Glen Farm, Tinicum Farm CSA and Shibumi Farm, dressed with the Canal House ambrosia.
Apple slices lavishly covered in cheese or almond butter were also a big hit. Simple yet a bit decadent. Thanks to Solebury Orchards for the apples. Thanks also to Big Bear Natural Foods, Terlato Wines International, and Rojo’s Roastery for their donations.
I never did get to taste the Canal House Roasted Squash Soup, with vegetables donated by None Such Farm, Gravity Hill Farm and Double Brook Farm. I’m sure it was delicious but it was too warm an evening for soup, unfortunately. The organizers thought it was going to be October!
Finally, when we had had our fill, more vegetables arrived. Only these vegetables were large puppets, designed by Jill Kearney, beckoning us into the large barn where music and dance finished the evening.
My favorite moment, though, came when Cathy Snyder told the 200 plus people who attended that Rolling Harvest just received a donation from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of $25K to buy a much needed Econoline van. It will carry literally tons more produce to people in need in Bucks and Hunterdon counties. A very nice evening indeed.
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