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Leslie Harlib's Social Scene: Festive fund raising, organically

Staff Report
Marin Independent Journal



A cool breeze, like hand-loomed silk smoothing away the heat of the day, blew through West Marin on Saturday evening. The air was a welcoming committee to Pure West Marin's signature event: An organic sipping and snacking party at Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station, followed with a reading and talk by best-selling author Michael Pollan of Berkeley.


The activities were a fund-raiser for Marin Organic, the nonprofit agency founded in 1999 and based in Point Reyes Station. Marin Organic put West County on the world's map last year when it hosted visits from Prince Charles of England and his wife, Duchess Camilla. The royals came in October to sample the organic produce at the Point Reyes Farmers Market and spent the night at Manka's in Inverness.

Now, quipped Steve Costa, who with his wife Kate Levinson, owns Point Reyes Books, "We are the only American farmers market to be considered 'royal.'"


Even though Saturday night drew only locals to the fund-raiser, it was a royal turnout. The party and talk oversold at 300 tickets; Helge Hellberg, executive director of Marin Organic, said he had to turn another 200 people away.


"It shows not only that Michael Pollan is an amazing draw, but that local, organic and sustainably grown food is becoming increasingly important to people. We expect to raise nearly $8,000," he said.


The money will help grow the 11-year-old Point Reyes Farmers Market as well as Marin Organic's program of trucking organic fruits and vegetables to schools and senior homes throughout Marin County. Depending on the season, the program is able to deliver as much as 45,000 pounds of produce in a month.


Some of those lovely foods were set up on tables at the rear of Chris Giacomini's huge, cavernous, straw-filled unofficial town center for Point Reyes Station, known as Toby's Feed Barn. (Giacomini donated the space for the event).


There was mesclun salad from Star Route Farms, one of Marin Organic's first 12 members. Dave Evans from Marin Sun Farms served sliced steak with chimichurri sauce; Evans attended fresh from the opening of his retooled Eatery, a mile away. There were cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery; raw oysters from Drake's Bay Oysters (formerly Johnson's and now owned by Kevin Lunny) and Hog Island; fresh fruit salad from Indian Peach Catering Company; and natural grain crackers with assorted toppings, along with rose beer, from a new company called Three Stone Hearth, which debuted at this Point Reyes event.


Owned by East Bay resident Jessica Prentice cooperatively with several other partners, Three Stone Hearth (TSH), based in North Berkeley, is a community-supported kitchen structured to deliver organic and sustainable prepared foods to your home, in the way that community-supported agriculture cooperatives deliver produce.


"We're trying to create a new model of business," said Prentice, formerly Marin Headlands chef for four years and author of a just-released, unusual cookbook, "Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection," (Chelsea Green, 2006).


What TSH doing is fascinating. Take her rose ale. Prentice used rose hydrosols created by Janet Brown of Allstar Organics in Nicasio, as the base of a pale pink, home-brewed lightly effervescent drink that had only faint floral notes along with a citrus tang and a whisper of alcohol. It was delicious. Normally I hate anything flavored with rose; it makes me think I'm eating cosmetics. But this was unique, and would blow just about any pink lemonade out of the water.


Pollan, a Berkeley dweller, was the star of the show. He held 300 people mesmerized by his humor, honesty and sharply written, witty passages that he read aloud from "The Omnivore's Dilemma." We filled Toby's cavernous main barn in chairs and packed it to the ceilings on stacks of hay bales, but there was nary a cough or a sneeze (and with all that hay, it was surprising) in the house for an hour.


Among the many supporters of Marin Organic and West Marin were: Jerry Mander of Bolinas, author of the controversial 1977 bestseller, "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television," and executive director of the International Forum on Globalization; Monica Moore of Inverness and Berkeley, executive director of the Pesticide Action Network; Mark Blackburn of San Rafael; Connie Mery, Elizabeth and Gene Ptak, and Pat and Dick Daly, all of Point Reyes Station; Kate Carolan, Anne Baxter, Sally Fairfax and David Winpfheimer, all of Inverness; Beth Gorelick and Silvia Lange, both of Nicasio; and Nikki and Jim Wood of Tiburon.


Events to come


Mark your calendars for some lovely opportunities to party and raise money in July.


- On Sunday, Falkirk Cultural Center on Mission and E streets in San Rafael will hold a Teddy Bear Picnic on its great lawn beginning at 11 am. A benefit for Falkirk, the event will feature box lunches; live entertainment; a variety of summer activities for kids and a few surprises. Piccolo Puppet Players and the Stark Ravens theatrical company will provide live, costumed entertainment, lead a parade and sing. Kids should bring bathing suits for some fun water play. Tickets are $15. Bring your own blanket and bear.

For reservations, call 485-3333 or go to www.falkirkcultural center.org.


- Also on Sunday, the Women's Auxiliary of St. Vincent's School for Boy's will present "On the Grill," a festive summer barbecue with live music and silent auction that's a benefit for the school. The evening begins at 4 p.m., with dinner and dancing beginning at 6 p.m. The party will also introduce Vinnie, the newest horse to become part of the therapeutic equestrian program at St. Vincent's. Tickets are $50 .

For reservations, call Pat Grotins, 479-7729.


- On July 22, it's "Looking Good," a fashion show featuring clothing by Marian Clayden and a luncheon benefiting Hospice of Marin, with emcee Joel Bartlett. The event will take place in the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco. Wear a hat and be part of the hat contest. Prizes will be given out for best table, most unusual, most beautiful and most humorous.


Tickets begin at $125. For reservations, call 526-5621 or go to www.hospiceofmarin.com.


If you have news about the fund-raising and benefit scene in Marin County, the North Bay and San Francisco, contact Leslie Harlib, Marin Independent Journal, 150 Alameda del Prado, Novato 94948; phone 382-7340; fax 884-1478; e-mail lharlib@marinij.com.