On the menu at Farm Aid: Food from Pittsburgh family farms, of course

The daylong festival explores “how food and music feed our bodies and our souls.”

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Emma Plowman / Flickr
Rossilynne Culgan

If you were lucky enough to score Farm Aid tickets, expect to feast your ears on a daylong music festival and treat your tastebuds to an array of foods from family farms, many of them local.

At a music festival benefitting farms, it’s only fitting, of course, that the concession stands feature food produced by farms. Farm Aid, the once-a-year traveling concert, will be held Sept. 16 at KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown. The sold-out show features a variety of musicians including Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson and The Avett Brothers. (Pro tip: If you didn’t get tickets, there will be a webcast.)

Willie Nelson performs at Farm Aid in Virginia in 2016.

Willie Nelson performs at Farm Aid in Virginia in 2016.

Ebet Roberts / Flickr

Concert-goers can expect an expertly crafted menu from Legends Hospitality chefs featuring everything from burgers to vegetarian bowls to a soba noodle salad — with ingredients adhering to Farm Aid’s Homegrown Concessions criteria:

  1. Sustainably produced by family farmers
  2. Using ecological practices
  3. Farmers receie a fair price for their products

“It includes some of the traditional things you’d expect to see at a concert and, of course, more artisanal things and all with family farms,” Farm Aid Associate Director Glenda Yoder said.

Local vendors will sell pierogies, coffee and baked goods, many using flour from Avella’s Weatherbury Farm.

“Anything that’s promoting farming and local food, we’re into working with,” farmer Nigel Tudor said. “We grow the grain, and we mill the flour. We have a stone mill here on the farm, so we’re providing locally grown and milled flour, so then they’re making cookies, hand pies.”

Soft Wheat Field
Courtesy of Weatherbury Farm

Other local vendors include:

  • A Taste for Something Moore
  • Baby Loves Tacos
  • Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette
  • Conover Organic Farm
  • Pittsburgh Ice Cream Company
  • Republic Food Enterprise Center
  • Zeke’s Coffee

While many vendors are local, others, such as Patchwork Family Farms, follow Farm Aid each year from their farm in Missouri to sell pork chops and brats.

As the public consciousness has increased about food and people became disillusioned by factory farming, Farm Aid wanted to reach eaters with its menu, Yoder said. Farm Aid offers a chance for people to engage with the elements of agriculture through the senses, as well as by recognizing a “consciousness about how food and music feed our bodies and our souls,” Yoder said.

“These elements help to build a very powerful and transformative experience for concert goers,” Yoder said. “It’s providing economic opportunities. … It’s a way for [farmers] to be seen and recognized for their contribution to the high quality that we’re serving, and it really starts with farmers and their soil and their production practices.”

Combining Soft Wheat 2014
Courtesy of Weatherbury Farm

A Homegrown Village station will also offer activities to explore the elements of agriculture — soil, water, food, farming and energy. Yoder calls it “a place to play.” Concert-goers can also peruse a pop-up farmer’s market led by Kids from Grow Pittsburgh and the Grange. They’ll sell fresh food from Lake to River, an Ohio-based co-op.

“We are selling food that you can consume right there, but it looks like a farmer’s market,” Yoder said. “We’ll have apples and pears and plums and peaches depending on the weather.”

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Emma Plowman / Flickr

Leftovers from backstage will be “rescued” by 412 Food Rescue, which is kicking off 724 Food Rescue during the show.

Since it launched in 2015, 412 Food Rescue has saved nearly 2 million pounds of good food from going to waste in Allegheny County and instead distributed to communities in need. The launch of 724 Food Rescue will expand those efforts to Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. Food rescued from Farm Aid will be distributed in Washington County.

Farm Aid officials expect a full house of 22,000 people.

“We sold out in one day, which demonstrated to us the enormous enthusiasm that Pittsburgh has for food culture and for farmers,” Yoder said. “You have a culture of connection between Pittsburgh and its outlying farmers.”