Grand Rapids Press runs story on Greens Cook-Off & Fried Green Tomato Festival

Cook-off to celebrate green living, Grand Rapids diversity

Published: Wednesday, November 02, 2011, 8:37 AM
Mary Hefferan | The Grand Rapids Press By Mary Hefferan | The Grand Rapids Press 

Jack Frost is dishing up a green weekend.

A Greens Cook-Off & Fried Green Tomato Festival Friday and Saturday will celebrate the last unripe fruits clinging to frost-bitten tomato plants and the sturdy collard and turnip greens that thrive in chilly autumn.

Celebrating culture, food
The contest, sponsored by Our Kitchen Table’s Food Diversity program, is part of a grass roots movement celebrating the culinary heritage of people living in various parts of Grand Rapids. The nonprofit organization works with Grand Rapids residents who want to grow organic produce on their property.

After holding community meetings to find out what people wanted to grow, Our Kitchen Table distributed 20,000 organic seedlings to residents of four Grand Rapids neighborhoods. A “garden posse” of volunteers trained the neighbors on how to cultivate and care for the plants. Besides feeding their families with the produce they grow, neighbors can sell it at the Southeast Area Farmers Market.

Recipient of a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, Our Kitchen Table teams with the Kent County Health Department and the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council to promote environmental action and food security in Grand Rapids.

Collaborating with the Southeast Area Farmers Market is one arm of its outreach; another is lobbying for fruit trees to be planted on city-owned land.


Greens Cook-Off & Fried Green Tomato Festival

When & where: 
• 5-7 p.m. Friday, Gerald R. Ford Middle School Market, 851 Madison Ave. SE
• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Garfield Park Farmers Market, 334 Burton St. SE

To register: Call 570-0218, email or show up with your dish. No preparation facilities are available.

More details: Prizes awarded in each cook-off category. Chef Nancy Rutledge will provide cooking demos with free samples. Free to participants and visitors. For more information, visit


• Fried green tomatoes with cream gravy

• Chef Nancy Rutledge’s collards and tomatoes

• Chef Nancy Rutledge’s green tomato cake