Come celebrate summer gardening bounty with the second of a three-part series of free community picnics on Wednesday, July 15 starting at 5:30 pm on the lawn of the Monroe Arts Center. Thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, Green County UW Extension will be leading “Stirring the Pot: Dialogue, Discussion and Dinner in the Dairyland,” an engaging and fun forum for area residents to gather and learn more about creating a healthy, green and sustainable local food system.
“Thanks to enthusiastic community support for the first ‘Stirring the Pot’ event in June, this upcoming July 15 event will creatively continue to showcase and celebrate Green County’s agricultural and food roots and further the dialogue on what needs to be done to preserve our quality of life for future generations,” explains Cara Carper, Green County UW Extension Educator who initiated this Humanities Council grant. “’Stirring the Pot’ offers something for everyone in the family. Watching area chefs share their secrets for cooking fresh, tasty dishes, enjoying a picnic and kids activities with your family, listening to local music while engaging in discussion tables about food issues. That’s what ‘Stirring the Pot’ is all about, all for free.”
This second picnic on Wednesday, July 15 features discussion focused on the theme “Abundance – and Emptiness – of Summer,” prompting discussion around how Green County residents can strategically tap into our local food abundance this time of year to help those in need. The third and final picnic takes place on August 19 and turns to fall harvest perspectives. To help encourage discussion, national humanities experts Dr. Steve Stevenson and Kathy Ruhf will be on hand to share their perspectives working in the areas of preserving family farms and encouraging local food systems.
The “Stirring the Pot” picnics all start at 5:30 pm, following the Wednesday Monroe Farmers’ Market. The upcoming July event will kick-off with demonstrations by Blackhawk Technical College’s Chef Kate Thomas, who will be demonstrating Summer Fruit Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction and Misty Meadows Open-face Sandwich showcasing local Green County raised and produced items. Representative Brett Davis will also be a guest chef this evening, sharing his culinary talents and support for locally-raised food with help from the chefs at Peppercorn Banquets.
“My culinary passions stem from a focus on local ingredients,” explains Chef Thomas. “Fresh ingredients not only taste better and offer healthier options, shopping at your farmers’ market support the local economy. When possible, I choose organic foods because of the sustainable agricultural practices, rich nutrients and reduction of fossil fuels.”
“In addition to learning about food issues, another key ingredient of the Stirring the Pot picnic series will be a healthy dose of free family-friendly fun,” continues Carper. Shakespeare on the Edge will organize a kids’ activity area and musical duet, Calvagna Harris, will entertain with smooth, contemporary and Latin jazz. Calvagna Harris offers a new take on some familiar songs and features award winning Jazz guitarist Frank Calvanga and singer Mary Harris.
“The ‘Stirring the Pot’ picnic series highlights that inspiring collaborative spirit of Green County,” explains Brenda Carus, a volunteer organizing these events and Main Street committee member. Other local partners in “Stirring the Pot” include Blackhawk Technical College, Monroe Arts Center, Monroe Farmers’ Market, Monroe Main Street, Green County Spotlight, Green County Development Corporation, Future Forward! Green County, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Local Fare and Renewing the Countryside, a Minnesota-based non-profit organizations showcasing positive stories of rural revitalization. Minhas Craft Brewery donated locally made Blumer’s Soda for the events. “This event showcases our community’s strong pride in our long-standing culinary and agricultural heritage, with an eye toward how we can green and sustain things so that my kids can experience an even better version of what we have today.”
Please bring your own picnic and blanket or lawn chairs and help reduce waste at this event by bringing reusable dishware. For those with disabilities who need table seating, call Cara Carper, UW-Extension (608-328-9441, e-mail: email@example.com). No reservation is needed. The event will be held inside the Monroe Arts Center in case of rain. Any questions or if you would like to volunteer and help with these events, please contact Cara Carper.