Farm to Table Conference

March 2012

When March decided to try on May’s weather for size, the downtown skylines turned their good sides toward my camera.  I was bound for the Farm to Table conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (one of my favorite PGH buildings), but so many sites were catching my eye along the way!

Admittedly, I was not the best of students at the conference.  The strength of the sun on my stroll utterly detained my arrival, but after listening to a rather lackluster presentation about the Pittsburgh Public Market, I concluded my time would be better spent with the vendors.

My [constructively?] critical side questioned the level of commitment to the Farm to Table title when I saw bananas as part of a display.  I was unaware there was a banana farm in Western Pennsylvania!

On the positive side, it was encouraging to talk to an organic dairy farmer who is expanding into local grocery stores (ie:  making it!), a volunteer for a coffee program (founded by a Pittsburgh native) with environmental and social initiatives, a forager whose eyes lit up when explaining her mushroom spores and a cattleman who raises a variety of grains for both grazing and milling!  Please sir, I want some more [pastry flour]!

My most in depth conversation centered around the upcoming Phipps Conservatory Center for Sustainable Landscapes.  In the grand scheme, this built commitment to the environment is long overdue, so we’re especially fortunate Pittsburgh will tout a building of such green fortitude [from the Phipps website]….

The new Center for Sustainable Landscapes, scheduled for completion in Spring 2012, will be one of the world’s first certified living buildings, a model of sustainability for architects, scientists, planners and anyone interested in living greener. Phipps’ dynamic new center for education, research and administration will generate all of its own energy and capture and treat all of its own water on site, meeting or exceeding the three highest green standards: the Living Building Challenge; LEED® Platinum and SITES Certification for landscapes.

My day had come full circle architecturally.  I had entered the conference in awe of the sail and bridgelike construction of the LEED certified convention center, and I left inspired by an architectural paradigm shift!

On that note, I deserved more sun-filled exploring.  Thus, I am afraid I am unable to report on the conference’s evening tasting component, but if you’re really curious, I bet this guy could report a thing or two about the food spread.


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