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Center spreads the word about ‘locavore’ movement

Monthly dinners feature locally-grown produce

POSTED: August 20, 2009 1:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

A trail runs through a garden next to the barn at Cedar Hill Enrichment Center.

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When the women of Cedar Hill Enrichment Center opened their renovated barn for five-course vegetarian meals a year ago, they were intent on having it be a learning experience.

And, of course, do it while showing off locally grown and seasonal food with their in-demand recipes.

With the one-year anniversary of Fresh Green Friday dinners approaching this week, the center's executive director wants more people to pay attention to where their food is coming from.

"We try to make the dinners a learning experience," Kat Stratton said. "We give them facts and figures that they might not be aware of."

Stratton said the center's workers were inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life," in which the author and her family tried to only eat locally grown or raised food for one year. Kingsolver's mission, along with the urging of a Cedar Hill visitor to share the center's recipes, was the jump-start Cedar Hill needed to begin the Friday dinners.

Stratton said newcomers should not be concerned with the meatless menu.

"Some people are surprised by how good the food is," Stratton said. "They don't go home hungry. I think because it's fresh, it has a different flavor."

The food served at the Friday dinners either comes from Cedar Hill's own garden, where you can find anything from okra to tomatoes to watermelons, or from the fields of Dawson and Forsyth county farmers, Stratton said. The center makes sure everything served is locally grown.

"It's a great thing to talk to people who grow your food," she said. "We've gotten so far removed from where our food comes from."

Before the 7 p.m. meal, Stratton said diners can explore the 17-acre grounds of Cedar Hill, which include a native plant walking tour, gardens, meditation areas and an outdoor labyrinth featured last year in Southern Living magazine.

With the Friday dinners, Stratton said she feels like Cedar Hill is helping people learn more about environmental stewardship.

"We're living a little lighter on the planet and trying to teach people along the way," she said. "We've done a lot of damage to this planet. We're trying to do our part here. We live who we say we are."


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