It was the penultimate weekend in May, the sun shone brightly but gently in the late afternoon, a welcome comfort after a morning of clouds and unexpected rain. The twinkling ripples of the Mississippi River served as an idyllic backdrop for the evening’s agenda: eat, drink, and do good. That’s the simple mission put forth by Eat for Equity (E4E), a non-profit group that organizes monthly dinners hosted and attended by members of the community to benefit the community. Every month, volunteers, led by E4E co-founder and director Emily Torgrimson, prepare a themed meal in someone’s home. Friends, acquaintances, and people in the community then gather at the person’s home to enjoy the meal, meet new and old people, and help out that month’s beneficiary (suggested donation is $10-15). Past events have raised money for causes such as earthquake relief in Haiti, Minnesota Food Share, the American Refugee Committee, the Emily Sandall Foundation, and Oxfam International.
This May, E4E was hosted by The Garden Party in Northeast Minneapolis and partnered with the local Yards to Gardens (Y2G) organization. Just over $1100 was raised to bring a community garden to the South Minneapolis area, which Y2G co-founder Jesse Eustis explained to the group of attendees is lacking in community garden space - despite the growing demand and extended waitlists for spots in other parts of the city. (Check out E4E Minneapolis’ Facebook page for a photo of the community garden space that this supper built).
The May Garden-themed meal was local-friendly, featuring recently harvested ingredients such as nettles, rhubarb, and morels (Minnesota’s state fungi!). Attendees enjoyed foods such as fresh baked bread with morel butter and radish butter, fresh pasta with nettle pesto, freekeh salad, strawberry-rhubarb pie, and home-brewed beer donated by a fellow attendee.
In keeping with the garden theme, attendees had the opportunity to make and take home a piece of garden in the shape of tiny clay “garden bombs” filled with a surprise smattering of seeds. You could use them as part of a guerrilla gardening effort or in your own space. Throw them onto the ground, and see what comes up!
This was my second time attending Eat for Equity and my first time volunteering with the meal preparation. Throughout the entire experience - as I made fresh pasta in the warm sun, talked with fellow volunteers about local food and other issues, chatted with new and interesting people doing exciting things like environmental social justice activism - I was amazed at the power of Eat for Equity’s vision. Bringing people together around the simple acts of cooking and eating to benefit causes that people care about - it’s not rocket science, but it sure is brilliant.
If you’re interested in hosting or attending a future Eat for Equity event (also based in Portland and Boston, in addition to Minneapolis), contact one of the local directors.
[photo credits (all except the first photo, shot by Alex): Steph Pituc via flickr]