ALEXANDRIA – The Third Annual Foodapalooza, an event that celebrates Central Louisiana foods and food producers, will be February 26-28 in Alexandria. The event includes nationally recognized speakers Kathlyn Terry, the executive director for the Appalachian Sustainable Development, and organic farming expert Mark Cain. Foodapalooza also features workshops and presentations, tours of local farms and locally sourced meals from restaurants throughout the region.
“This year’s Foodapalooza will include more workshops, partners and events than ever before,” said John Cotton Dean, regional food systems planner for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “Our goal is to celebrate local foods, share resources and inspire others to make changes in their own community. We want to thank our partners for ensuring that Foodapalooza continues to grow.”
Foodapalooza is free of charge and geared toward anyone with an interest in increasing the availability of fresh local foods in Central Louisiana. It will be held in The Rapides Foundation Building in downtown Alexandria. Main events will be in the Hearn Stage at the Kress Theatre. To register, and for more information, visit www.freshcentral.org.
Previously a one-day event, Foodapalooza begins on Thursday evening, February 26, with a seminar led by Cain of Dripping Springs Garden in Arkansas. Cain came to organic market gardening through his interest in all things biological, with a degree in biology from the University of Illinois and subsequent study in organic horticulture at the Farm and Garden Project of the University of California Santa Cruz. He is a member of the Fayetteville (Arkansas) Farmers Market Board of Directors, and often an invited speaker at local and regional sustainable agriculture conferences.
Friday, February 27, will be a full day for Foodapalooza. The keynote presentation will begin at 9 a.m. in the Kress Theatre and feature Kathlyn Terry of the Appalachian Sustainable Development, whose mission is to grow food, communities and opportunities to build a thriving Appalachia. Prior to arriving in Appalachia, Terry spent over 20 years in various business leadership roles in the for-profit sector. She has been ASD’s executive director since 2011, using ASD’s broad experiences with education, economic development, and empowering people to make a difference in their own lives to develop farm, forestry, food access and youth development strategies in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee.
Morning workshops will cover a variety of topics, including helping farmers make more money, developing collaborations around local food, learning how to include youth in local food activities,
composting, worm casting and micro brewing. Lunch will feature special locally sourced meals at a dozen local restaurants.
Friday afternoon activities include farm tours, community garden tours with the Good Food Project, volunteer opportunities at the Food Bank of Central Louisiana and a cooking demonstration and tours of the Central Louisiana Business Incubator Commercial Kitchen. The Louisiana Young Farmers Coalition is hosting a happy hour from 5-7 p.m. at Finnegan’s Wake in downtown Alexandria. Then on Saturday, events will be held at several of Central Louisiana’s farmers markets. The Central Louisiana Local Food Working Group worked with partner organizations in helping to plan the event. Registration is encouraged but not mandatory. To register, visit www.freshcentral.org or please contact John Cotton Dean at 318-441-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foodapalooza is part of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, which is a Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance-led program working toward creating a vibrant and healthy regional foods economy throughout Central Louisiana. The initiative is funded by a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Challenge Grant and The Rapides Foundation. Initiative partners include the Food Bank of Central Louisiana, the Louisiana Public Health Institute, MarketUmbrella, the Good Food Project, the Cane River Green Market, the Winn Farmers Market, and the Farmers and Artisans Market of Leesville.
Jim Clinton, CLEDA’s president and CEO, said the goal is to create a sustainable agricultural economy in the region. “This improves health outcomes by increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and it helps the region’s farmers and producers when they are able to sell their produce locally.”