Except anyone who farms realizes there might be a few whoopsy-poos that can happen somewhere between dirt and dinner.
Yet surprisingly, you can’t turn around these days without bumping into somebody who is ripe with success, making headlines in the food world. Either they have a forthcoming book all about the way they turned a small third-world village into a new sustainable enterprise with nothing more than a tractor made from Legos, or they’ve opened five new restaurants which are run on recycled potato skins and leftover lemon rinds. I’ve even stayed in a hotel that stocked toilet paper made from sheep poo pellets.
I would love to be one of these people.
I am not.
So, until I come up with an ingenious way to run a dairy farm on methane gas, or discover an unknown symbiotic relationship between worms and non-recyclable plastic, I can only support the people who do find jaw-dropping ways to make the news and soon show up on stage at a TED talk.
One of those ways is to attend a farm dinner.
Farm dinners, also known as meals in the meadow, pitchfork to plate, farm to fork, or cowpie to peach pie (only kidding), are a growing trend inspired by the healthy locavore movement. Usually a local chef lends his name and talents to the community’s neighboring food producers and creates a memorable multicourse meal in a farmer’s barn, a field among the livestock, on the beach beside the roaring surf, or in the vineyards between the chardonnay and the pinot noir.
Oftentimes, diners get a farm tour and listen to the chef and farmers chatter about what Bessie had for dinner last night in the barn just before slaughtering time. They might even throw in her final words, surely a message of thanks to the farmers for a true quality of life experience. It was probably something like, “Moo,” but it might have been, “Mooove that knife. It’s too close to my throat.”
I actually went to my first farm dinner last night. It was held at the historic Virginia estate called Morven: a property with a pedigree that likely links back to biblical times when Moses was trying to rent a summer home to get out from under the skin-shriveling heat of the dessert. Okay, I totally made that last bit up, but click on the property link and make yourself a large pot of tea. There’s a bucketload to learn about the estate.
The dinner was held in support of the Charlottesville City Schoolyard Garden program that uses a garden-based curriculum to help promote health awareness, scholastic success, and neighborhood involvement. Math? Measure and chart plant growth. Science? Understand and view firsthand what chlorophyll is all about. Music? Tomatoes are said to be partial to Handel and The Rolling Stones. (I’m joking. They hate Handel.)
Chef Gay Beery of A Pimento put out a luscious spread for 90 + diners under the setting sun on an old Virginia farm, using food from at least five surrounding farms and one school garden.
Thomas Jefferson was no doubt smiling in his grave as folks sipped wines from the soil he’d first planted vines in shortly before the Revolutionary War.
The food, the farm and the fruit of the vines created a spectacular evening—one I think everyone should be able to take part in.
Go ahead. Look it up. Google farm to table and see what pops up in your neighborhood. Then make a reservation and see what happens. Shortly afterward you may find yourself:
-eating more vegetables
-buying local food
-starting your own garden
-heading up a community veggie patch
-solving world hunger
-writing a book about it
-giving a TED talk
Even if you only make it halfway down that list of exceptional accomplishments, you have done yourself and many others a great deed.
Now go forth. Grow. Eat green. Be green.
Get a farmer’s tan.