For our final GATHER pop up of the summer, we headed Featherstone Center for the Arts. The glorious campus of old-growth trees sprinkled with fanciful works of art and the magical acoustic guitar of musician David Wolff set the stage for the evenings event. Thank you to our special guests Jennifer Rubell and Sally Taylor for a truly engaging conversation about their art, their famous families and all the triumphs and struggles that choosing a creative path brings. Thank you to Justen Ahren of the Noepe Center for the Literary Arts for his fantastic presentation of food-theme quotes and poems and of course our partner, Chef Peter Lodi of The Blue Crab Kitchen for the outstanding dinner.
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As a team of food event planners, we have always been familiar with the annoying complications of waste. At every event there's the added responsibility of sending your waste to the right place. On our farm tours we always compost, but with the development of a larger event we wanted to iron out a plan that matched our business' values - a zero waste plan.
We've made a lot of friends along the way in the planning process of GATHER's zero waste initiative and so it has tied in with other's work and insight on the island's waste-system including Sail MV, Island Grown Schools, Morning Glory Farm, Composting on the Coast, the Vineyard Conservation Society and Slow Food MV. All organizations have contributed to the education of zero waste on the island in an impactful way.
If you are on the island this fall, do check out the Living Local Harvest Festival, a two day event showcasing all the glories of the island from local food, music to our amazing non-profits. This year the theme is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - many events are planned to educate and to get people jazzed about what they can do to curb waste.
Here are some of the insights we have gained the Farm.Field.Sea.'s summer pop-up series GATHER.
1. Planning Your Menu
What's on your menu directly affects what ends up in the bins at the end of the night. First step is to work closely with your chef / caterer. How can you together streamline the menu so the food can be diverted correctly at the end of the event? One way to do this is to have your menu coincide with the waste disposal opportunities you have. For example, do you have a pig farmer nearby to supply kitchen scraps, or just a farm that composts? There is no commercial composting site yet besides the farm networks you can setup on your own, like we did with Morning Glory. Shellfish is a great menu item as they can be used for restoration and remediation for our ponds via our friends at the MV Shellfish Group's shell recycling program. Right now there is a pilot program in place where they will drop off and pick up all the composting and shell recycling containers you need (and weigh them) in partnership with Composting on the Coast. Lets support them to have this service as a regular offering!
In that vein, not every event is going to have the same waste disposal needs. You need to make signage work for your event. Signage must be educational, and engaging. Depending on your event design, attendees can either be told where to put their waste, or staff can handle waste diversion like we did behind this sign including a dishwashing station, compost bin, recycling container, shell recycling bin, and trash.
At Sail MV's Vineyard Cup, they hired some of their young sailors to help with the diverting of waste and provide education to attendees. This is another way to handle waste at a large event that was deemed successful by Sail MV's Director, Brock Callen.
3. Event Design
Designing a space that allows waste to be disposed of properly goes beyond having the right signage. For us, it is easier for our wait staff to handle all waste diversion. At the GATHER events so far, service trays were laid out so that people may rest their glasses, used napkins and plates of food (if any was left behind). Service trays were regularly cleared into bins, as mentioned previously, behind this blue tent and large chalkboard explaining what staff were doing. When you leave this diversion to the customer, signage is never enough to keep the wrong things out of the bin (especially when nothing brought to the event by our design was meant to go in the trash).
4. Where does the waste go?
Our friend Noli Taylor of Island Grown Schools completed an amazing survey of where our waste goes for the Vineyard Gazette and her team has set up compost stations at the MV High School. Turns out, our waste goes off island to SEMAP. Why should our waste go off island, especially if 40% of it is food waste?
we send 10,000 to 12,000 tons of trash off-Island for incineration or burial every year. That’s between 2 and 2.4 million pounds of trash from our community. In July and August, MVRD alone hauls two to three trailer trucks full of trash off Island every day. ... roughly 45 per cent of the weight of the trash they dispose of is food waste."
In inspiration of these facts, we decided to work with Morning Glory Farm as our compost vendor because they can handle all types of compostable material including meat, fish, citrus, napkins - items that are difficult for small home compost piles to handle. For recycling and limited trash needs, we contracted Bruno's pickup from our site location.
Waste is never really pretty...
5. How do you track your progress?
Tracking progress is not tricky - just keep track of the weight of waste that was outputted from the event. A zero waste event is never perfect the first time, and therefore leaves for improvement in the way we menu plan with chefs to reduce food waste, and change the way we host through using rental companies for reusable dining ware like Big Sky Tent Rentals.
If you want to learn more about how you can host a zero waste event on Martha's Vineyard, refer to our team, or the rest of our zero waste network on the island. We are happy to share our event design and waste management skills to help make this island a less wasteful place!
Engaging the senses is the cornerstone of a GATHER experience. Each event is crafted to invite you to see, hear, taste and touch for a 360' view on food and the folks who are behind it's story.
FIRST UP: See, taste, smell with Cottage City Oysters Tour
We had a couple of special guests joining us on the island for the event - Paul Greenberg, best-selling author and oceans's advocate and Jody Burson from Big Green Egg. We thought the best way to insert them right into the conversation would be to insert them right into the action. First stop, Dan and Greg Martino (brothers) from Cottage City Oysters (whose bounty was the one of the highlights of the fantastic GATHER dinner) went deep, picking us up in their great little boat for a super cool 'tour' of their floating farm. On the boat was also (the infamous) and passionate Rick Karney from the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group who went head to head with Paul on facts, figures and fun tidbits on how truly amazing these (yummy) bivalves are. Did you know - oysters have the ability to change their sex? Or that eating four oysters a day gives you a complete daily supply of copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc? The things that we now know.
I love oysters. It's like kissing the sea on the lips." - Leon-Paul Fargue via Rick Karney
GATHER Part 1: Bites, Wines by Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, a killer location and more..
gThe evening GATHER started out with making new and seeing old friends, it was like we curated our perfect dinner party - fisherman, educators, billionaires, activists, authors, TV Hosts and our good friends who were looking for a cool night out. While we don't want to pick favorites from Blue Crab Kitchen's menu, the locally sourced conch fritters paired perfectly with the lovely Chardonnay poured by J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. And we were psyched to have brothers Dan and Greg Martino of Cottage City Oysters on hand, presenting an impressive array of their succulent oysters. Happy and full, we were excited to get the conversation going and headed into one of the bays on the working harbor of the Martha's Vineyard Shipyard.
Gotta love geeking out over the Big Green Egg grills. Peter Lodi our chef was gaga when the one and only Steven Raichlen, author, journalist, cooking teacher, TV host and of course grill master extraordinaire, saddled up with some juicy stories from his own EGG grilling adventures.
GATHER Part 1.5: Conversation with best-selling author and oceans advocate Paul Greenberg
Jane Seagrave, publisher of the Vineyard Gazette hosted a thoughtful conversation with Paul Greenberg about his passion for fish, then brought the conversation local via the voices of Rick Karney from the MV Shellfish Group, Mike Holtham of Menemsha Fish House, and Buddy Vanderhoop, famed local storyteller and charter boatsman. What was cool about this interaction is that the audience and participants really got a 360' story about how the food decisions we make, can and do tip the delicate balance of the oceans and our ponds.
GATHER Part 2: Dinner with Blue Crab Kitchen
The conversation spilled out from one to many as people parted ways from the first portion of the evening to the second. Those that stayed for dinner dined to the soft lapping waves of the lagoon, the rise of the June solstice full moon (we couldn't have planned it better), and the roar of animated chatter and dinner plates.
A table laid for those who love to experience their food - from idea, source to plate.
If you just can't stand it and want more...Mr. Raichlen shot a little video that says it all.
“I’ve been wanting to show off for a while what the fine dining industry does every day, which is utilize waste. That’s what chefs have always done, that’s what we’re good at doing, it’s in our DNA to utilize those things that would otherwise go in the trash.” - Chef Dan Barber
GATHER: July 27th
Conversation with Doug Rauch 6:30-7:45pm
By Chef Peter Lodi of the Blue Crab Kitchen
Wines by Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association
Prepared on Big Green Egg
@Martha's Vineyard Shipyard
Photo cred: Lisa Vanderhoop
The Imperfect Pickle Bar
Fresh-from-the Farm Gleaned and Imperfectly Perfect Vegetables
EGG Smoked Shellfish, Cheese & Charcuterie Board
Grey Barn Farm Mis-sized Alpine Wheel Cheese, All Shapes Anglers Catch Clams
EGG Foraged Flatbreads
Foraged Island Mushrooms, Bolted Greens Pesto
Fried Island Squid
Small Lure Memorial Wharf Squid
Cider Tastings by Martha’s Vineyard Cider Co.
Island Grown Gleaning, The Grey Barn and Farm, Menemsha Fish House, MV Mycological
Curated pours by Monterey Vintners and Growers Association
Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc
District 7 Chardonnay
J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay
Bernardus Pinot Noir
District 7 Pinot Noir
J. Lohr Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir
Photo cred: Lisa Vanderhoop
Penned by the staff of Farm. Field. Sea. and inspired by the experiences of working with Martha's Vineyard's chefs, farmers, fisherman, oyster cultivators, artisan producers and food educators.
Farm.Field.Sea. An Island Culinary Adventure