Events Chair Sharon Rudd shares the back story of one of our signature events.
Once upon a time, Slow Food Cincinnati organized lots of farm tours, from Snowville Creamery to Ed-Mar Cheese to Napoleon Ridge Farm. When I became Events Chair, I realized that – no matter how cool a collaborative event I could put together in the “country” – it was tough to get more than a handful of people to travel and attend. It still kind of hurts my heart that people aren’t more curious about seeing first-hand where their food comes from.
But I’m adaptable.
I came up with the idea of “Urban Gems” to explore Over-the-Rhine. That first event was more complicated than I anticipated. I researched farms/gardens in the heart of our city, tried to figure out a route, contacted potential partners, and saw one go under during the course of planning. Thanks to support from then-Slow Food Cincinnati Co-Chair Jamie Stoneham (now teaching cooking community classes at Farm Chef), I persevered.
For that first Urban Gems, Justin Dean (now of Mad House Vinegar Company & Chefs Collaborative) shared with us the garden he was tending on a vacant lot on Walnut Street. We visited Findlay Market’s then-farm at Elm & Liberty. We tucked into Maverick Chocolate for warming hot chocolate and lessons on chocolate sourcing on a chilly day (Maverick is now one of our Snail of Approval winners). And we ended with a happy hour at Permaganic (also now a Snail of Approval winner) with appetizers prepared from Permaganic ingredients by Nick Marckwald (now of Hen of the Woods chips fame), bread baked in the Permaganic cobb oven by Ryan Morgan (now of Sixteen Bricks fame), and a pot of mulled wine by Ginny Tonic (of the Charlie Tonic Hour, now a rep for Middle West Spirits and host of a new podcast called Remeasured Life).
Thus, a tradition – and more collaborations – were born. Each year we select a different neighborhood in a center-city or nearby Greater Cincinnati neighborhood. In 2015 we explored Enright Urban Eco-Village in East Price Hill. In 2016 we had a great turnout for our walking tour of Covington. This year we’re walking in Oakley.
Our decision to feature Oakley this year was inspired partly by the fact that our Slow Food chapter was selected as MadTree’s Charity of the Month in August. (Thanks to all who “tossed a buck for charity” for us!) Oakley is also home to three of our Snail of Approval winners: Deeper Roots Coffee, Marielle’s, and Red Feather.
We’ll be starting and ending this year’s Urban Gems Oct. 7 at Brazee Street Studios (half a block behind Red Feather on, yes, Brazee Street). The folks behind this fabulous hands-on open-to-the-public glass studio also own Sleepy Bee Cafe and Blue Manatee children’s book store in the neighborhood.
An innovation for this year’s Urban Gems, Sat., Oct. 7: You can come for the walk & happy hour (2-5pm) – or just the happy hour (4-5pm). If you come to the walk portion, you’ll be treated to Deeper Roots Coffee and get to check out two hidden gardens in Oakley. Ticket price for either option will feature appetizers by Sleepy Bee, Red Feather & Maribelle’s and wines by Oakley Wines.
Just $20 (Slow Food members get an extra $5 discount with the discount code: imamemberofsfc). Urban Gems has become a popular event, and we’re limiting the walk to 30 people, so get your tickets before we sell out! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oakley-urban-gems-walking-tour-happy-hour-tickets-37525592056
Getting to know the people who grow and prepare your food & beverages and support our local communities doesn’t happen over night. But we’re making progress. Join us on Oct. 7 to meet some!