Thursday, August 12, 2010

Veggielution Annual Fundraising Dinner

San Jose's urban farming community is about to kick off their annual fundraising dinner. Enjoy a 3 course meal utilizing fresh organic veggies grown in central San Jose by maverick farmers, all while helping a great cause! Full press release below:


Bounty of Heart's Delight
Veggielution's Annual Fundraiser Dinner
Saturday, September 11, 2010, 6 to 9 p.m. 

Reception at Emma Prusch Park
647 South King Road
San Jose CA 95116

Dinner at Eulipia
374 South 1st Street
San Jose, CA 95113

——Sumptuous, three-course feast features Veggielution's local produce——
A benefit to support our youth and community programs

Veggielution's Bounty of Heart's Delight fundraiser dinner will be an evening of fine dining focused on the fresh and the local, with a menu crafted by San Jose native Chef Joseph Gaudet. It will be a delightful evening of entertainment kicked off with appetizers and a tour around Veggielution's farm at Emma Prusch Park in east San Jose. The dinner will be served at Eulipia, a beautiful restaurant in downtown San Jose.

Please help us get the word out that dinner tickets are on sale now at for $100. We hope you'll introduce your readers to our mission and programs, and give them a chance to support this truly unique gem of sustainable agriculture in the heart of Silicon Valley.

I can arrange interviews with Manny, mentioned below, and other youth program participants, as well as with Veggielution director Amie Frisch, and Chef Joseph Gaudet. We eagerly invite you to a sample cookout at the farm, featuring freshly prepared highlights from the menu and open-flame cooking, whenever you are available.


The prime beneficiary of this dinner is our VeggieYouth program, a relatively new effort that we're very excited about. Started in Fall 2009, VeggieYouth creates a safe space for high school youth to spend time outside connecting with their food and with each other. The summer program is in session now, with a great group of students drawn from the East Side Union High School District and other local schools.

The fifteen youth participate in team building games, educational presentations, farm work, cooking and communal eating. They also integrate with the broader farm community, where participants of all ages serve as positive role models. Eventually, they will take on responsibilities like leading groups of volunteers during workdays. Our hope is that it will be a transformative experience for them, turning them into community leaders excited about healthy living and sustainable agriculture. They learn skills beyond agriculture that will help them be successful in college and careers.

One participant from our Spring session, Manny, is now a youth leader at the farm. "I like gardening and planting things, especially corn. I used to do it when we lived in a house," says the Yerba Buena High School student. Now, with no room to grow at the apartment where he lives with his parents, Veggielution is a place where he can "learn agriculture so that one day I can get a patch of land, plant crops for myself, my family and maybe to sell. I could learn how to survive."

Manny, 17, plans to major in Anthropology and concentrate in Mayan Studies in college. "The Mayan people are a very agricultural people. They believe that we came from corn, so they are very connected to what they eat. I feel like if I'm connected to the earth I can be more connected to them," says Manny, who, like many in Santa Clara Valley, comes from an agricultural family. His parents are from Michoacan, Mexico, where they practiced subsistence farmed before immigrating.

"I think it's also about community," adds Travis, 16, a Leland High School student and VeggieYouth participant. "Just getting together with people is always a great way to make friends, and we're getting stuff done that we know will help our community."

Keeping this farm operational as a community space and outdoor classroom is a challenge for a small nonprofit. We need all the help we can get to grow from the grassroots level where we began in 2008 to a farm harvesting produce out of more and more acreage.

About the Chef
San Jose native Chef Joseph Gaudet, classically trained at New York's renowned Culinary Institute of America, has designed a menu for the Bounty of Heart's Delight that showcases Veggielution's naturally grown vegetables and other Bay Area-grown food. Farm-fresh ingredients have been essential to his craft since his first cooking job at a Slow Food-affiliated café in London.

At the CIA, Gaudet learned a diversity of international and American cuisines that he blends into his cooking. The Bounty of Heart's Delight menu is just such a blend, drawing from the Deep South and from Korea, inspired by Veggielution tomatoes, peppers, okra and squash and by regionally sourced pork.

Gaudet has cooked at the critically acclaimed Blackfish, a French-influenced and seafood-centered American restaurant outside Philadelphia. Walking with his sous chef and talking with growers at Philly farmers markets made intimacy with ingredients a big part of his culinary creativity. "I love simplicity, and being able to respect my ingredients," he says. "Local, seasonal, and fresh is always my favorite way to cook."

The Bounty's chef says he is "honored to be able to work with such great product, as well as with the stewards of this produce, and to keep people learning and tasting how good it can be when you take the time to find great veggies and loved ingredients."

"Community was and still is the driving force behind why I wanted to be in this industry," says Gaudet. "I love to cook for others. Cooking is truly an act of service. You are really giving something to someone when you cook, and this act of community in daily life is what drew me to be a cook."

About Veggielution

Veggielution has a one-acre farm at Emma Prusch Park in San José. Nestled in the heart of the diverse and vibrant Mayfair neighborhood, we provide local youth and their families with access to a unique open space, healthy local food, and educational programs that empower youth and adults to transform their bodies, communities, and planet.

On a weekly basis, volunteers and youth program participants manage a large composting operation, grow and transplant seedlings from a small greenhouse, and complete all other farm tasks, such as bed preparation, weeding, and harvesting. Our produce is distributed to volunteers at each workday, available to the general public at our sliding-scale farmstand, and to local soup kitchens.

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