What could happen if schools, healthcare centers, education programs for budding chefs and full-fledged restaurants connected with growers, farms, and producers right in their own backyards?

Farm-to-Chef Week – going on until Saturday, Sept. 22 is a preview of what could happen year-round.

In Connecticut this initiative of the state Department of Agriculture encourages hotels, school cafeterias, university dining halls, healthcare facilities and eateries to create a special farm-themed menu featuring one or more Connecticut Grown ingredients for a week.

Anyone who works or lives in the state is encouraged to visit one or more of the 65 participants – that includes the technical high school system’s culinary arts program, farmers’ markets and restaurants.

The celebration of Connecticut Grown cuisine connects farmers and distributors with local chefs and other culinary professionals. Seventy restaurants and other dining venues throughout the state will be participating in this year’s event.

“As well as providing nutritious, fresh food for residents, locally-grown and produced foods contribute $3.5 billion to the state economy and represent about 20,000 Connecticut jobs,” said Governor Dannel Malloy. “Our state’s farmers produce an astoundingly wide variety of foods, and Farm-to-Chef Week is a great opportunity for people to get out there and really enjoy everything Connecticut has to offer.”

Participating locations often create new and unusual dishes using local foods, and they all set their own prices for their Farm-to-Chef menus. Businesses that serve alcohol will also offer one or more Connecticut Grown wines.

“We encourage participants to go above and beyond for Farm-to-Chef Week,” explained Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky. “Some are new to buying and using ingredients from local farms, so they might start more conservatively. Others are accustomed to working with local farm products on a daily basis. In that case, we ask them to stretch creatively, incorporating Connecticut Grown proteins, dairy, maple, honey, and more unusual produce items.”

An urban farm and community center, Moo Dog Press image, used with permission.

At an urban farm, a network. Story linked at photo.