FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
“Pie and Politics” 16th Year at the Big Top June 20
May 26, 2012
The twin topics of local food and stronger local economy will attract lots of people to this year’s “Pie and Politics” gathering under Bayfield’s Big Top tent on Wednesday evening, June 20th. Ben Hewitt, Vermont author and farmer, will deliver the keynote address — “There’s Dirt in Our Future: Digging into the Local Economy” at 7:00.. Dialogue and homemade pies will follow his presentation. This event is presented by the local Alliance for Sustainability nonprofit organization with the help of sponsors who underwrite the cost to keep the event free to the public.
Recognition of the importance of local food networks is exploding around the country as people question whether their food is safe to eat and where it is grown and processed. Hewitt will relate stories that he learned while writing his recent book, “The Town That Food Saved” when he interviewed farmers, agricultural entrepreneurs, and restaurant owners. His book received recognition from the New York Times and other national media.
“Pie and Politics” is the affectionate name recognized by regional residents who have been attending these gatherings for 15 years. The Big Top Chautauqua grounds and tent sit at the base of a ski hill 3 miles south of Bayfield. The grounds will open at 5:30, to feature locally prepared food and information booths set up by co-sponsors. Hewitt’s talk begins at 7:00 and will include time for questions. Further discussion will break out at the end while eating free homemade pie. The pies are donated by dozens of community volunteers. Mary Rehwald, one of the organizers of the event, reports that “Rhubarb is always the most sought after pie!“
Rehwald goes on to add “I have helped organize this event since the mid-90’s and I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm for a topic. Everyone seems to be organizing to make sure that locally grown and prepared food actually gets to the plate of people who live in the region. Schools, hospitals, local restaurants, and groceries are featuring locally-grown produce. We will learn from our speaker how one small rural community in Vermont created 100 jobs in its local food economy. We want to learn how to do the same thing here.”
Pie and Politics attracts more than 20 co-sponsors, including groups from northern and central Wisconsin, the Duluth area, and Michigan’s UP.
On the following day, June 21, a Local Living Economy Summit will be held at WITC-Ashland from 9 am to 3 pm. The format that day will use the “Open Space” concept, a conference method designed to encourage building connections between people who want to discover solutions to problems. “This will be a real working summit,” said Rehwald. “Those who attend will identify and set up the sessions they want to run.” Ben Hewitt will attend that day’s events and will offer a conversation during the Noon lunch hour. The only cost to attend will be lunch. To find out more and to reserve a lunch, contact the Alliance for Sustainability at allianceforsustainability.org, or call 715-682-4662.