A local food movement was proven to be alive when hundreds gathered at the Stevens Point Area Senior High School on Feb. 5, for the Local Food Fair hosted by Central Rivers Farmshed.
The high school’s main foyer was packed shortly after doors opened, with attendants snaking their way through the busy walkways. Fifteen farmers and 28 businesses and organizations participated in this free event held every year. The fair is one of the largest of its kind in central Wisconsin, the mainstay being the info fair where exhibitors give free samples and information.
A free potato bar provided by the Stevens Point Area Co-op and Farmshed was held in the cafeteria. Various workshops and a film showing finished off the night.
“This event shows the power behind our community,” said Mike Schretenthaler, the president of Students For Sustainability. “It is an awesome way for organizations and businesses to do outreach.”
Schretenthaler explained that sustainable agriculture is a cornerstone of the club and the event meshes with its mission. The club also has strong ties to Farmshed and many of the club members volunteered at the event.
“We promote anything and everything that is sustainable,” Schretenthaller said. “Stevens Point is a great place for people interested in these things.”
A myriad of exhibitors studded the event, ranging from bakeries to renewable energy companies. A common thread among vendors, organizations and businesses was their commitment to local business and their responsible environmental views.
Matthew Williams, a coffee roaster at Ruby Coffee Roasters in Nelsonville, said he enjoys the event because it is a chance to meet with other local businesses.
“We have a lot of friends here,” Williams said. “There is definitely a sense of community.”
The coffee company is only a little over a year old, and last year’s fair was shortly after their debut.
“We’re growing,” Williams said. “Hopefully we can do some networking here and let people know what we’re about.”
Vincent Miresse, the owner of Wholistic Home Solutions, was answering questions and advertising his business at the event. Miresse specializes in natural buildings and permaculture design, often using locally harvested materials.
“This is my community here,” Miresse said. “I’m about to get to meet new people with new ideas. I’m always looking for the natural, niche projects.”
Lindsay Buesgens, the outreach coordinator for the co-op and Unviersity of Wisconsin- Stevens Point alumna, said the co-op has attended the event several times. It has been a hub of local and whole food sales for many years and supports movements in central Wisconsin.
Buesgens said when shopping at the co-op, “for the most part, you’re supporting local food.”
“It’s great when we get new people coming in,” Buesgens said.
She hopes to be able to expand the store’s involvement in the community by offering workshops and classes.