Farm Aid has had a longstanding mission: keep family farms in operation. The mega concert event is being set up today at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and organizers are working to connect local vendors with local farms to feed the thousands who will attend this weekend’s festival.
Vendors are setting up shop at SPAC, gearing up for Farm Aid 2013, which has been sold out for months. The busy weekend requires a lot of food, and inside a food truck owned by Duanesburg-based Sarchioto’s Concessions, a porker sandwich – a hefty combination of pulled pork, cheddar cheese, and coleslaw – is being prepped on the grill.
Owner John Sarchioto says that for Farm Aid, you can find the usual items on his menu, but they’ll be slightly different for this weekend.
"We're doing grilled cheese but with organic cheese, organic butter, organic bread, everything's organic" said Sarchioto. "Even the serving trays that we get with them are biodegradable. Everything is environmentally conscious."
In the months leading up to the event, Farm Aid has been working with Aramark, the company that oversees concessions at SPAC, to make sure what’s served is sourced from regional farms and meets other quality standards.
The menus at Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Concessions must be approved by Sonya Dagovitz, the event’s culinary director.
"For us at Farm Aid it's about growing family farmed food, and if I can connect any vendor to their local farm food supply that's an advantage," said Dagovitz.
Dagovitz added that the connections made between farmer and vendor at Farm Aid don’t have to be temporary.
"These folks live here, they're going to be here well after we're gone, these relationships have been made," said Dagovitz.
Will Pouch, owner of Esperanto in Saratoga Springs, has created a menu of featuring vegetables from Schaghticoke-baed Denison Farm.
Denison, who met Pouch while his children attended school where she was an administrator, said that Farm Aid reconnected them in a new way.
"We've known each other for years and now suddenly we've got a new partnership," said Denison.
Pouch said that he will continue Esperanto’s new partnership with Denison Farm, and he hopes to add new vegan and vegetarian items to his menu. He said it’s also great for business for both the farm and restaurant at an event that will draw thousands.
"It's normally about 40 percent out-of-towners and 60 percent locals, that's what they say. Maybe it'll be 20 percent locals at Farm Aid. That's still thousands of people who don't realize we do a lot of vegetarian choice in the first place and certainly who would like to know that we're planning to do more and maybe some gluten-free choices in the future," said Pouch.
Farm Aid will take place Saturday with performances by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and several others. The annual concert was first started in 1985 in Champaign, Illinois. Since its inception, the concert series has raised $43 million for family farms across the U.S.