The Fruits Of Summer Coming To Nature Fest

Roger Tory Peterson’s Wild America Nature Festival will feature a Local Food Cook-Off and farmers market. The festival takes place July 27 and 28 at Panama Rocks. Submitted photo

Fresh strawberries. BBQ chicken. Mushrooms. Sweet corn. Cherries. Burgers. Black raspberries.

We could keep on listing the amazing locally farmed and wild edible foods that make the summer delicious, but it would take up more space than we have for this article.

Roger Tory Peterson’s Wild America Nature Festival at Panama Rocks on July 27 and 28 will celebrate locally produced and sourced food and highlight the importance of the environment to our food chain.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be a series of programs delivered by Lee Peterson, the younger of Roger Tory Peterson’s two sons. Lee has worked in the world of Natural History his entire life and is the author/illustrator of A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America. In addition to speaking about his father’s life and legacy, Lee will lead talks discussing native plants and teach guests how to identify and use edible wild plants. Lee will be joined by local wild plant and fungi experts Sarah Sorci, Garrett Taylor and Quincey Widger.

The Local Food Cook-Off at the Wild America Nature Festival, sponsored by Edible Western New York and in collaboration with Chautauqua Institution’s Food Festival, will highlight local, sustainability grown food and the farms that they come from. The cook-off includes five amazing food vendors:

¯ EBC West is known for its fresh, seasonally inspired dinners paired with locally crafted brews. Located in downtown Fredonia, their friendly and knowledgeable staff create a lively, comfortable atmosphere, making EBC West an excellent choice for great food when visiting the Chautauqua region.

¯ Green Heron Growers, a certified-organic farm which provides nourishing food for family, friends and community in the Chautauqua County region. The farm produces 100% grass-fed beef, chicken and eggs, shiitake mushrooms, veggies, herbs and fruits.

¯ Labyrinth Press Company in Jamestown is a place that turns the necessary tasks of procuring sustenance and caffeine into adventure and enjoyment. Their food, coffee and baked goods are consistent crowd pleasers all year long.

¯ Superfresh! Organic Cafe uses locally sourced ingredients to make delicious meals that are non-GMO and allergy-friendly. Beyond the food, Superfresh! also holds a serious commitment to supporting sustainable models of production, distribution, waste and recycling.

¯ Sontheimer’s Country Bakery has been well-known and loved in the Erie region for years. They will feature croissant sandwiches (the croissants are made with flower from Pennsylvania) and other amazing baked goods.

The festival will also have a farmer’s market where guests can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, honey and other products that are grown or produced locally. Participants include Abers Acres, Big Tree Maple, Good Grass Farm, Green Heron Growers, Reverie Creamery and the Panama Bee Farm.

Although it may not be obvious, there are many connections between nature and our modern diets: All of our crops (and livestock) were selectively bred from once wild ancestors; we are largely dependent on nature to provide services that facilitate food production; we are very much still at the mercy of nature in the face of climate change and emerging pestilences; our agricultural practices are often at odds with nature; and nature is still the ultimate reservoir of our agricultural ingenuity (genetic diversity).

The Wild America Nature Festival will feature over 40 artists in a Nature Art and Craft Show, a Local Food Cook-Off and farmers market, wild animals, music, speakers, activities, and more. Learn more about the festival, purchase discounted pre-sale tickets, and view the schedule of events at wildamericafest.com.