On their day off, most chefs would prefer relaxing at home as opposed to slaving over a piping hot grill on a steamy summer day. But entice them with the opportunity to hang out with a group of their peers swapping “war stories,” outdoing each other with their extraordinary cooking prowess and drinking cold beer, all while supporting an extremely worthwhile charity and they’ll show up in droves.
Bluegrass for Babies is just such a cause.
Founded in 2009 by Anne and Matt Schneider after their youngest son was born with a life-threatening birth defect, the organization educates parents on how to raise healthy children by providing tools and resources based on both traditional and holistic practices. The nonprofit’s year-round special events, grounded in a love of Bluegrass music, provide much-needed fundraising dollars to benefit the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC).
“We were incredibly grateful to Cincinnati Children’s for not only saving our son’s life, but providing our whole family with excellent care,” Anne says. “[Bluegrass for Babies] is named after our original family-friendly fundraising event that was created to raise money to support the health of babies cared for at Cincinnati Children’s.”
On Sunday, June 22, more than a dozen top chefs and artisans will join hosts chef Jose Salazar and his wife Ann at Peterloon estate in Indian Hill for the second-annual Midsummer Harvest, a unique country picnic experience that pairs the region’s top sustainably focused chefs, food and drink artisans and food producers with the pioneering experts of children’s environmental health from CCHMC.
The purpose of the event is to raise awareness for the rapidly growing field of children’s environmental health, including nutrition and toxin awareness and to support innovative children’s health research and educational programs through Bluegrass for Babies’ partnership with the hospital.
The event was devised after a visit the Schneiders made in the fall of 2011 to Blackberry Farm, a sustainably focused lifestyle resort in Tennessee. “I was inspired by the beautiful way that Blackberry Farm ties together local food, amazing chefs, health and wellness and embracing the outdoors,” Anne says. “My vision was to create a fundraising event that embraced the same elements in order to highlight the importance of the local food movement and its ties to children’s health.”
Along with Salazar, chefs Caitlyn Bertsch of Park + Vine, Mark Bodenstein of Nuvo at Greenup, Matt Buschle of Virgil’s Café, Frances Kroner of Sleepy Bee Café and more will be providing lunch and appetizers to complement alcohol selections by the likes of Oakley Wines, MadTree Brewing and mixologist Molly Wellmann. Midsummer Harvest will also feature multiple environmentally conscious food suppliers, including Creation Gardens, rounded out by food artisans including Happy Chicks Bakery, streetpops and Grateful Grahams. There is no high-fructose corn syrup in any of the food products provided at the event. And in keeping with the Bluegrass theme, local band The Tillers will perform live.
Anne’s friend Eileen Aber assisted in the planning and execution of this year’s Midsummer Harvest. Aber’s own daughter, Grace, required life-saving surgery for Pyloric Stenosis at Cincinnati Children’s when she was just a couple months old.
“Our girls are now 3 and a half and 5 and a half, and as they grow, we’re more aware of their environment,” Aber says. “Our household suffers from a lot of allergies — food and environmental — and it’s led us down a path of wanting to learn more about how we can improve life for our kids. My involvement in Bluegrass for Babies has been eye-opening, inspiring and educational. It’s been a way to engage with other parents looking for the same qualities of life for their families.”
After lunch, featured speakers include Dr. Louis J. Muglia, the director of the nationally recognized Center for the Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Kimberly Yolton, leader of the Cincinnati-based Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment Study, also known as the HOME Study. The study examines prenatal and postnatal exposures to a variety of common environmental toxins on health, growth and neurobehavioral outcomes.
This year’s MIDSUMMER HARVEST is already sold out; add yourself to the waitlist or make a donation at bluegrassforbabies.com.
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