From home brewing and homemade pickles to DIY apiaries and chicken coops, there’s an ever-increasing segment of the population aiming to go back to the past. Striving to be “the handbook for living naturally in the modern world,” Rodale’s Organic Life debuted on newsstands in May of this year. Four issues in, the magazine is looking to expand its message. This weekend, the publication is hosting its first Farm2Fork Festival in Williamsburg (50 North 3rd Street), featuring two days of food experiences highlighting local restaurants and acclaimed locavore personalities.
“We’re brand-new and we felt that a live event would allow us to bring our brand to life,” editor-in-chief James Oseland tells the Voice. “It’s a way that our audiences can spend a weekend living and breathing who we are.”
The bimonthly publication is a relaunch of Rodale’s first title, Organic Gardening. Debuted in 1942, it was the first organic magazine in the U.S. The new-and-improved version includes a magazine, digital component with video, live events, and e-tail features. The magazine offers a current perspective on food, garden, home, and overall well-being. Before taking on the rebrand, Oseland served as the editor-in-chief of Saveur (the publication has numerous Saveur vets listed on the masthead). “The core of our mission is our food philosophy…both good for the planet and good for our body,” says Oseland.
There are three unique events throughout the weekend: a grand tasting afternoon, commemorative dinner, and a film debut brunch.
On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 pm., Bites of Brooklyn ($65) offers a classic tasting format. It will feature cooking demos with chefs Adam Geringer-Dunn, Evan Hanczor, Patti Jackson, and John Poiarkoff. Included is an Organic Life lounge with experts from the Rodale Institute, JustFood, and the International Culinary Center (ICC). Instructors aim to hit many topics covered in the print and digital outlets: gardening, canning, fermentation, herbs, flower arranging. Dishes with a focus on sustainable ingredients will be prepared by local restaurants such as Allswell, Bar Bolinas, Delaware and Hudson, Egg, the Finch, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster, Ted & Honey, Luckybird Bakes, the Pines, and Willow.
Later that night, the magazine is honoring Brooklyn farm-to-table pioneer Andrew Tarlow with a subdued Slow Down Dinner ($110) hosted in conjunction with Slow Food NYC. The family-style meal of “urban farm fare” is inspired by the menus of Tarlow’s venerable eateries — Diner, Marlow & Sons, Roman’s, and Reynard. A portion of the proceeds benefits Urban Harvest in the Schools, Slow Food NYC’s program that provides financial and organizational support for sixteen public schools assisting in initiating, maintaining and expanding garden and food education programs. “We want to acknowledge everything he’s [Tarlow] done to bring the scene to where it is now,” says Oseland.
The weekend culminates with Sunday’s Farm Feast Brunch ($90), which includes a premiere of Susan Rockefeller’s documentary Food for Thought, Food for Life, an examination of agribusiness and its impact on the food system and the environment, featuring input from environmentalists, farmers, and chefs such as the James Beard Award–winning partner at Blue Hill and Blue Hill Stone Barns, Dan Barber. The screening is followed by a brief Q&A with Rockefeller and Barber, hosted by Oseland (who says he’s really looking forward to it, as “a longtime fan of his work”). After the screening, the menu includes a selection of dishes inspired by Barber’s book The Third Plate.
Oseland is also a former two-decade Williamsburg resident. He thought his old neighborhood was the ideal location for the inaugural event because of its environmentally friendly, food-conscious reputation. “Brooklyn is the epicenter of the farm-to-table movement,” he says. “The perfect place to celebrate everything that has been accomplished.”
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