This blog chronicles and analyzes developments in the Upper Delaware Valley, with an emphasis on public affairs, politics and what people are doing to make this a better place. You can find news here as well as commentary - but don't expect neutrality. The award-winning editorial writer for The River Reporter from 2004 to 2012, I am an advocate for sustainability, self-sufficient economic growth vs. globalization and protecting the environment on which our health, prosperity and quality of life depend.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

'Complementary planting' for street fairs

Matt Solomon of Farmhearts, who along with NYC chef Heather Carlucci is organizing the August 11 Pig Mountain event in Narrowsburg, had some interesting comments about the way the event has been structured at Mildred's Lane last night. He started out by saying he had wanted to use the idea of "complementary planting" in planning the event.

 In vegetable gardening, complementary or companion planting means putting plants next to each other that create benefits for the plants next to them, by secreting chemicals that repel insects, breaking up clay soil, providing shade, fixing nitrogen in the soil and the like. What Solomon meant in the context of Pig Mountain, an event in which ten fine regional and/or NYC chefs have been invited to cook ten pigs and sell the roast pig, along with fixings, from booths on Main Street, is that the event should incorporate the existing tenants in town, thus providing explicit benefits to them rather than the usual vague "a lot of people are in town and some will therefore wander into the stores."

Solomon specifically did not invite, for instance, beverage vendors into town to fill out the roast pig and sides menu. Narrowsburg Wines & Spirits has been offered the opportunity to sell alcoholic beverages, Coffee Creations coffee, the Heron other beverages. And Heron chef Paul Nanni will be one of the chefs, introducing attendees to the quality of the cuisine to be expected at that restaurant. In another effort to include merchants rather than leave them on the outskirts of the crowds, Pig Mountain organizers are bringing the booths into the street so that the crowds access them from the sidewalk (but still leaving a lane free for an emergency vehicle, as the town requires). This contrasts with street fairs in which the booths are accessed from the middle of the street, leaving their backs to the street front stores and correspondingly, leaving the full-time merchants out in the cold.

The idea of designing a street event to directly complement the existing Main Street businesses is an interesting one, and I look forward to see how they carry it out next weekend.

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