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Oct. 20 marks the start of the seventh annual Eat Local Week, Transition Sarasota’s love letter to all things local. A celebration of the best of local food and farming in Sarasota and Manatee counties, Eat Local Week’s events include farm-to-table dinners, movie screenings, lectures and more. Also on the docket: a keynote speech by Samantha Benjamin-Kirk, regional lead for the USDA’s Farm to School program.

Samantha benjamin kirk ltogi4

Samantha Benjamin-Kirk

“It’s all about educating the community,” says Transition Sarasota board member Laurin Kocher, who also works in marketing at Whole Foods. “Like ‘Hey, you can grow a fruit tree in your back yard,’ or, ‘Instead of dining at a chain, dine at one of our local restaurants and talk to a chef who’s passionate about getting ingredients from local sources and keeping dollars in the community.’ It all starts with education—if the community’s not aware of [the resources here], how will they know about them?”

Of note this year: a partnership with Giving Hunger the Blues, a tour of Mote’s aquaculture park and Geraldson Community Farm’s Fall Harvest Festival, which kicks off the farm’s 2017-18 growing season with music, games, food and tours. That event is a perennial favorite, Kocher notes, as is the return of Big Momma’s Collard Greens Fest in Newtown, in which participants can eat their weight in collard green recipes—some of which are more than 100 years old. “We want everything to be really accessible,” Kocher says.

Eat Local Week runs Oct. 20-29; for more information, visit

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