Anyone who knows me, knows that I love food. Not just the eating part mind you, but also the growing and cooking and particularly the community of folks dedicated to raising good food for the family table. Growing up, my parents had a very large garden and we canned and froze vegetables for the winter. We all helped, the four of us, and extended family as well, in the form of my two aunts. It was a small community effort and even though I didn't know it then, it taught me a lot. There is an inherent pleasure in cooking for people, as well as giving away all those too many tomatoes and zucchini in the summer months. There is joy now in asking my daughter to go out and pick me some basil or thyme from our little backyard garden or when she comes in with a fresh carrot to eat, which she does as soon as they are ready. And so, it is not a very far stretch for me to be enamored with those who dedicate all their time and effort into the growing or making good food, and particularly when it touches those young folks who wouldn't necessarily get the chance to do just that. And here is where L.E.A.F. steps in.
L.E.A.F. is the brain and heart child of Heidi and Shane, two of the most loveliest people you will ever want to meet and instead of me trying awkwardly to explain the beauty of what they created, I will instead quote the mission statement right from their homepage.
"Connecting youth to the food they eat, the land on which it grows, and to each other. Cultivating young leaders through the meaningful work of building a healthy local food system. Inspiring youth to create personal and social change."
L.E.A.F. is a singular unique program that I hope someday, will be the model for those like it across our beautiful country. Please visit their site to learn about the awesome people and work that they do. www.leafprojectpa.org
In the galleries below are the amazing local farmers and food artisans that work with L.E.A.F. and each other!
Ben Wenk: Three Springs Fruit Farm of Adams County, PA
Keswick Creamery, Newburg, PA
Talking Breads, Perry County, PA
Piney Mountain Orchard
North Mountain Pastures
Ross and Michelle: Trattoria Piatto