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April 25, 2013

Garden-to-table cafe sprouts from global food movement

Origins Café, a business created by two Cooperstown Central School graduates, made its debut at the Earth Festival in Milford last year.

Kristen Leonard and her sister, Dana, set up their mobile food vending trailer outside the school gymnasium again this year. However, most of their business is done at a more permanent location - at their parent’s gardening shop, Carefree Gardens, on Beaver Meadow Road.

The women have set up a garden-to-table café where people can sit among the herbs and vegetables that are served. Kristen, 26, and Dana, 24, both went to college for environmental science and feel it is important for people to know the origins of the food that they eat. Produce for the cafe is sourced from local farms and from gardens on site.

According to Kristen, they are planning to host volunteers from all around the world through the educational and cultural exchange program Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).

People are connected via internet, she explained. According to the website, visitors, or ‘WWOOFers,’ spend about half a day on a host farm, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture and receive room and board - with no money exchanged between hosts and WWOOFers.

WWOOFing is a way to learn practical farming skills, be part of the organic agriculture movement and experience the heart of American agrarian culture, according to the site. Kristen said she and her sister participated after closing the café last October and were able to travel to Greece.

“Initially we went to the International Slow Food Conference in Italy, and then we were connected with farmers,” she said.

The café, which features a seasonal menu, is open daily for lunches. An opening celebration was held on April 17. There was a full house with live music, according to the women.

Live music is made available every Wednesday night during a ‘Meet your Farmer’ dinner at the cafe, featuring a product and short presentation by a local food producer.

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