By Mara Certic
Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz is the chair of Slow Food East End, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. She discusses some of the group’s successes over the years, future projects and an upcoming fundraiser in Westhampton Beach.
Slow Food East End just celebrated its 10th anniversary. How has the organization evolved and expanded over the past 10 years?
Our quest for universal access is manifested in our novel programming, which is centered around education and the concept of Farm to Table. Master Farmers Program, Chefs to Schools, school garden mini-grants, educational outreach and curriculum development are our most important initiatives of the past few years. We have had the good fortune to develop powerful partnerships with some incredible like-minded groups such as Edible School Gardens, Josh Levine Memorial Foundation, Cornell Cooperative, Peconic Land Trust, Project Most and Sylvester Manor. That expression “Many hands make light work,” comes to mind. We have become much more effective by sharing resources and goals.
What do you consider some of the greatest accomplishments?
Our greatest accomplishment in my mind is the formation of a very dedicated group of Slow Food leaders and community supporters that is very focused on changing the way people eat and the way food is produced. Through team effort and hard work, we have accomplished some pretty incredible things. The school garden movement—and soon the school cooking movement—on the East End of Long Island would not be the same without the amazing financial and programmatic support of Slow Food East End. We owe all of this to the network of chefs, farmers, fisherman, educators, producers, concerned citizens, journalists, nutritionists and foodies that have donated so much of their time, energy and resources to our common goals. It takes a community!
Slow Food East End has been advertising the need for a master farmer. What does that position entail?
When educators, parents and community members wanted to teach children about food: where it came from, how to grow it and how to eat it, school gardens seemed the best place to accomplish that task. Today, the Edible School Garden Group counts about 25 school districts with school garden programs on the East End. It became apparent that many of us did not have the technical growing or gardening skills to run successful programs. Farming requires special knowledge! Monthly meetings did not translate into help on the ground, where questions from “Where should I put my garden?” to “How do you harvest sweet potatoes?” perplexed many. The Master Farmer program was born. Master farmers bring different levels of gardening/farming experience to the table. Our four master farmers have truly been inspirational as well incredibly helpful in getting programs off the ground and into sustainability.
On Sunday, September 28, the American Culinary Federation Eastern Long Island Chefs Chapter is co-hosting the first annual S.E.E.D. fundraiser with Slow Food East End. What will the fundraiser benefit?
The chefs of the Eastern Long Island chapter of the American Culinary Federation very much want to give back to the community and make an impact on changing the way people eat too. S.E.E.D. aims to celebrate the chefs, wineries, breweries, farmers and fishermen who produce the delicious bounty that we enjoy so much out here. Proceeds from S.E.E.D. will help fund Slow Food East End’s Chefs to Schools Program, which aims to bring chefs into schools. Chefs will receive a small stipend covering time and supplies to visit schools with the aim of teaching children of all ages how to prepare, cook and enjoy food. The program is still in development and will be officially launched sometime very soon. This new initiative completes the circle of farm to table.
For more information about Slow Food East End or Sunday’s fundraiser, visit slowfoodeastend.org.