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First two-day ECHO Farm Fest deemed a success

By Staff | Mar 17, 2020

The ECHO Global Food & Farm Festival took place as planned Friday and Saturday at the ECHO Farm on Durrance Road.

The Saturday crowd was a little less than in past years, but the event, expanded for the first time to two day, was a success, officials said.

David Erickson, president and CEO of ECHO, said the Friday portion of the festival went especially well.

“We were able to add some events Friday that we were able to max out with special tastings and a wonderful long-table dinner in the bamboo courtyard with chef David Robbins and his team,” Erickson said.

Erickson said they did consider implications related to the new coronavirus but, because of the kind of event it was, decided it was OK to proceed.

“We thought hard about being careful and thoughtful about our guests and staff. This is an outdoor event and at any time we won’t have more than 800 people over more than five acres,” Erickson said. “People aren’t close to each other in the open air and we’ve taken all precautions by wiping down all high-touch surfaces, of which there aren’t many here.”

Visitors had the opportunity to participate in numerous workshops and demonstrations, we well as try some unusual foods they may not have tried before such as avocado cake and scrambled eggs with katuk and moringa along with a garden medley.

Dan and Julie Kolb of the Broken but Beautiful Ministry came from Tarpon Springs to teach some of the lessons they learned from ECHO, especially the breakfast they made with “eggsxotic” greens.

“We wanted to contribute. We’ve learned so much here at the different events they’ve had. We thought it would be a great time to fellowship and give back the knowledge we’ve received,” Dan said.

People learned about foods like moringa, one of the healthiest foods in the world, and they could also buy ECHO produce just like they can on Friday and Saturday at the nursery. Andy Cotarello, farm manager, said most people don’t realize that ECHO grows food for local people.

“They don’t realize this food is available on a weekly basis, and it’s seasonal. Now, we’re in the middle of vegetable season with everything from tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkins and more,” Cotarello said. “Stock changes every week. Starfruit is finishing up and we’ll have mangoes this summer.”

Jolene Minor, of Tarpon Springs, said she had tried for years to make it to ECHO and, because another event was canceled, she was able to come. She said she thought she would be done in an hour.

“There’s more here than I thought. I worried it wasn’t worth my time to come, but it is. It’s huge, and I’ve learned so much,” Minor said. “I learned not to eat just one green, but to be balanced because it could be bad for you. I also loved the Moroccan soup and that they turned down the spices.”

“This place is fantastic. I donate to it and I’ve been to a lot of lectures today,” said Richard Grumert of Naples, who came for the first time. “My passion is to serve poor people in need, so when I see self-sustaining, I love it.”