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Garlic freaks gather to sample their favorite bulb
Recipes abound at GarlicFest event at LoganBerry Heritage Farm
Andrea Robertson reaches for a piece of garlic Saturday at the GarlicFest 2010 at LoganBerry Heritage Farm. - photo by Tom Reed

CLEVELAND — It can be hot. It can be sweet. It can even be a little buttery.

Despite the numerous varieties, there was one consensus Saturday: People love garlic.

LoganBerry Heritage Farm was host to the second annual GarlicFest, which gave spectators the opportunity to participate in garlic-themed events, free of charge.

LoganBerry Heritage Farm, once home to the Cherokee Indians, is now owned by Sharon Mauney, a fifth-generation granddaughter of Berry Turner, who originally settled in the area.

The farm's unique garlic is grown in mineralized soil and is loaded with heath-promoting nutrients.

Sharon Mauney, also known as "Organic Rose," decided to host GarlicFest because she wanted to give people the opportunity to share the celebration of the wonderful and healthy bulb.

"Garlic tantalizes our taste buds," Mauney said. "It is so healthy for us - it is rich in sulfur, and that helps with everything from cancer prevention to lowering cholesterol."

Philip Shore, a volunteer and Robertstown resident, met Mauney at a farmers market. Shore started buying vegetables from Mauney because he liked the fact that all of her produce is organic.

Shore enjoys the vibe that GarlicFest offers, and he believes the land really speaks to everyone who comes. He loves garlic because of the way it can change food.
"There are such a wide range of ways to cook it," Shore said. "I like to cook with it in tomato sauce."

There were 11 varieties of garlic available for people to try Saturday.

"Each has its own characteristic," Shore said. "Some of them are so hot and others are sweet and buttery."

Shore admitted that he was a little shocked to see that there are so many people who are "garlic freaks."

"They just love the whole idea of it and love eating it," he said. "I was surprised by how many people will just start chowing on it and eating it raw."

This was the first year that Mauney invited vendors to GarlicFest.

"This is good because now we have a bunch of local artists who have joined in," said Shore, who believes that Mauney is "all about the community."

"This all started with trying to help people eat better and healthier," Shore said. "We had a couple of people who had cancer who tossed everything in their refrigerator and started buying from us. And one woman came back eight or 10 months later and said, ‘my doctor can't find the cancer.'"

Shore said that many farmers think Mauney is crazy for not using the "easy way" of farming with fertilizer and roundup, which helps make things grow bigger and quicker.

"She just lets the land do what it is going to do, and you can see the results - it really does make a difference," Shore said.

Jason Vullo, a chef at The Vines restaurant in Sautee, was busy doing demonstrations throughout the day.

Vullo, who once trained under a master chef from Austria, has always been cooking, even as a small child.

"I am mostly self-taught, and what really brings it home for me is getting fresh produce, fresh animals and eating local," said Vullo, who uses LoganBerry Farms produce at The Vines restaurant on a regular basis.

"When Sharon presented the opportunity to come to the farm for the garlic festival, I had to jump on it," Vullo said. "It is nice being around a group of people with like minds that have a heartfelt want and need for such quality products and quality ingredients because that's exactly what we are trying to do at our restaurant."

Vullo was making three dishes on Saturday, including potato pancakes, scallop escabeche and fresh snails from Burgundy.

"People love to eat, and some people get intimidated when they see so many different things," Vullo said. "Being able to show people the proper way to do things is just great."

Vullo said that as a chef, he loves garlic because of the flavor.

"If there were only two things that I could have in my kitchen, garlic would be one and salt would be the other," Vullo said. "Garlic speaks to my soul."