Patrons seated themselves under a canopy between rows of crops at Alameda Point Collaborative’s farm for its fifth annual “Urban Farm Table” fundraising luncheon on Sunday, May 17. A guitar and stringed bass duo provided musical ambience for the arriving guests from within a nearby thicket of blossoming passion fruit vines. Bees went about their business from teeming beehives clinging to the branches of a fruit tree in the farm orchard. It was an earthy affair.
The Collaborative provides supportive housing for homeless individuals, children and youth services, and job training programs, such as selling their farm produce through a subscription service, operating a commercial kitchen, and raising and selling plants at the Ploughshares Nursery.
Nationally known author and sustainable food activist Bryant Terry gave the keynote address. He wove together personal memories of food and culture from the days before the phrase “slow food movement” was coined. Terry characterized APC’s local farm program as a radical idea in an era of corporate agribusiness that harms the environment and shortchanges consumers’ health.
Terry praised the Collaborative’s Farm2Market subscription produce program as a model that should be emulated throughout the country. “There are many urban neighborhoods where it’s easier to find a gun than a fresh apple,” he said. Terry is the author of the critically-acclaimed “Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine.”
Terry wrapped up his engaging talk about food and culture by preparing a simple veggie dish over a gas burner. While he was chopping and stirring, he offered a tip for anyone expecting dinner guests. He said no matter what you’re serving, throw some olive oil and garlic into a hot skillet before the guests arrive to get that aroma into the air. “They’ll compliment you every time, even if all you are serving is dessert.”
A cadre of snappily dressed servers delivered a two-course meal. The tricolored beet salad with pistachios, spring greens and radishes was topped with a roasted apricot and Point Reyes bleu cheese vinaigrette and accompanied by a slice of Rosemary focaccia.
The gourmet menu was created and supervised by Jeff Rosen, executive chef at Oakland’s Blue Heron Catering. All of the produce was grown at APC’s farm. Joe Pucci Seafood provided the local salmon. The featured beverages came from Rock Wall Wine Company, St. George Spirits, and Petitpot.
As each pan-roasted salmon entre was assembled, chef Rosen personally inspected each plate and spooned on the Tuscan salsa verde before it was hustled off to the table. The nine vegetarians enjoyed the chef’s fresh pea and green garlic cakes with shaved fennel.
Awards were handed out to volunteers and supporters from the Haas School of Business, Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Bay Farm Elementary School, and Alain Pinel Realtors.
The event was sponsored by Alameda Point Partners, Penumbra, SanMan Productions, VF Outdoor, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta.
Published in the Alameda Sun, May 21, 2015