Local food, healthy food, vegan food. They all seem to go together nowadays, and this weekend’s “Back to the Garden” public gathering will combine all three of these food categories. There will also be kids’ activities, a wine a beer garden for adults and live music in the evening.
The gathering will take place at a public venue entitled The Garden on Albion Street in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood. The actual “Garden” establishment-a historic, Victorian House that is now a public venue, is co-owned by Vegan chef Aleece Raw and her mother, Carol. Raw is passionate about teaching others how to eat a healthy, plant-based diet, and is equally passionate about teaching them how to cook. She also co-leads the Denver area Raw Food Café Meet-Up
Raw’s work to host this weekend’s “Garden” event is about her passion for farm-to-table meal concept; she wanted to bring to the community a vegan version of this increasingly-popular approach to eating in today’s health-conscious, food-obsessed culture.
“This meal isn’t just about eating, it’s about getting back to the garden!” reads a press release issued this week.
Saturday’s “Garden” event is the third one hosted since the summer. About 25 percent of the proceeds will go to fund the new, non-profit Sunshine Food Project, which Raw founded. The volunteer group brings fresh, natural foods to residents in various neighborhoods where such fare is not readily available.
The event is meant to be an inclusive community gathering as well as an event for paying customers.
“We'll be hosting a free harvest festival from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for the Sunshine Food Project. We'll have vendor booths and a kid’s area with petting zoo. We'll be harvesting in the morning and will have a beer & wine garden on the patio after lunch. For those who choose not to purchase a ticket for the Get Back to The Garden lunch, we'll have some snacks and beverages for sale with plenty of plant-based options,” Raw said.
Those who purchase tickets will enjoy a four-course meal of plant-based food (some, local, naturally-raised meats will also be an option) which they can watch being prepared by Raw herself, who whose demonstration will double as a cooking course for those who want to take the recipes home.
Raw makes veganism her life’s work, and not just in the kitchen. Her focus is sustainable living, for herself and all of world. Many of the event’s ingredients, including fresh spices and produce, will come from gardens on the premises. Since the event is public, some local meats will also be offered, but the theme is still vegan.
“Every meal and event I plan starts with a plant-based core and is complete as a vegan experience. I then sometimes supplement that with high quality meat and/or dairy that is local and pastured for those who are not vegan - as in the case of this weekend,” Raw told the Examiner yesterday.
Her own diet used to include all the processed foods any hurried person might eat, from packaged cakes to Top Ramen noodles. Her interest in veganism began close to home, when tragedy struck.
“I became vegan almost 5 years ago when my sister Shelly was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. I have a long history of cancer in my family, am the youngest woman and only one in four generations not to have had it yet. It was very much a health-based decision for me, but am happy about all the benefits to animals and the planet and the environment as well.”
The Garden gather is receiving much support from Denver’s largest vegan social group, A Vegan Life, which hosts many culinary events and gatherings of its own and has over 1,000 members.
Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance via Eventbrite or at the door. Advanced ticket may qualify buyer for discounted price.