Lowcountry Local First (LLF) is celebrating Eat Local Month in April for the second year in a row. As part of Eat Local Month LLF is hosting four major events where people can participate and connect to local chefs, farmers, and products. We spoke with LLF’s  to get the scoop.

The point of Eat Local Month is to actively engage community members in eating what is seasonal and local. “This is an exciting time of the year for local agriculture and we want this month to be a celebration of the amazing farmers and chefs we have in the Lowcountry,” says Nikki Seibert, LLF’s director of sustainable agriculture.

All month long you can partake in LLF’s Eat Local Challenge, where participants pledge to increase local food purchases by 10 percent. If you register for free online, you’ll receive access to resources on buying, cooking, and dining with local products. LLF also has a guide for this year’s challenge with a list of suggested goals and a chart for tracking your progress and local spending. Tips include preserving your fruits and vegetable, investing in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, and visiting the local farmer’s markets. “This challenge gives a little something for everyone, whether you are just starting to buy local or hoping to increase you local purchases from 50 to 60 percent,” Seibert says.

As participants meet goals, they are encouraged to post their progress or stories to their social media with the hashtag #EatLocalCHS. Also, all Eat Local Challenge participants will be entered for a chance to win a subscription to The Local Palate and other fun prizes.

On Sat. April 13, during the Charleston Farmer’s Market in Marion Square, LLF and the City of Charleston are teaming up to host Plow to Chow. This event will feature several local restaurants, chefs, and farmers showcasing their produce and dishes during cooking demonstrations. Throughout the day market visitors will get to taste the food and meet the chefs and farmers. “This free event will hopefully get people excited and involved with the Charleston Farmer’s Market and further the connection between consumers and what they eat,” Seibert says.

Anticipated to be this month’s biggest event, the Dirt Roadtrip — Lowcountry Farms Tours, will be held on Sat. April 20. “This will give people a rare opportunity to get behind the scenes with local farmers during private farm tours,” Seibert says. Tours will be held all day, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Guests can drive to their favorite farms where they will get to meet the farmers, tour the farms, and learn about the farming process. Participating farms include Ambrose Farm, Burden Creek Dairy, Dirt Works Incubator Farm, Joseph Fields Farm, Legare Farms, and Lowland Farms. Tickets range from $30-$35 per car and they can be purchased online at lowcountrylocalfirst.org.

For the big finale, LLF is hosting the 6th Annual Chef’s Potluck on Sun. April 28 at Middleton Place. “At this event we get to pair farmers with chefs to showcase and compete with their local dishes,” says Seibert.

Attendees get to taste all-local dishes prepared by Charleston’s chefs, who are partnered with local growers and producers. This year’s event features chefs from Cru Cafe, Cypress, EVO, FIG, The Glass Onion, The Grocery, Poogan’s Porch, SNOB, Two Boroughs Larder, and more. Firefly, Grassroots Wine, Coast and Palmetto will provide local beverages. Charleston’s Latin jazz band Garage Cuban Band will be providing the live music, and to top it all off there will be a live auction featuring items to win like a baking lesson with a Glass Onion chef, or a special overnight stay on a local farm. Tickets are $60 for LLF members and $70 for non-members, and can be purchased online at lowcountrylocalfirst.org.

Many of Charleston’s restaurants are getting in on Eat Local Month, too. All month long, chefs at participating restaurants will be preparing locally-sourced dishes, meaning they’ll use 75% local products sourced within a 220-mile radius. Restaurants include EVO, The Glass Onion, High Cotton, Fleet Landing, SNOB, Ted’s Butcherblock, and more.

“This month is all about pushing yourself to eat more local produce, and it’s something we believe everyone can do. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that say eating local is expensive and time consuming, but if you start small and expand when you can, people will realize how manageable it really can be.”

For more information about Eat Local Month and each individual event visit lowcountrylocalfirst.org.

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