The following is a short write-up of two farm dinners we attended in the summers of 2010 and 2011:
Farm Dinners have become quite popular over the past several years, and my husband and I have attended several, two of which were put on by Meadowlark Farm Dinners, which is a group that brings in their bus and huge grill, and prepares a multi-course dinner on the farm, using produce picked fresh from that particular farm. For items that the hosting farm doesn’t supply, they work with other farms or ranches nearby.
The first dinner we attended was at Cure Organic Farm at Valmont and 75th, and included a wonderful tour of their farm. One of the highlights for me was the unique chicken enclosure, which was a pretty huge enclosure that included trees and grassy areas that the chickens could run around in when they were being kept out of the fields during fox breeding season. Normally they are moved around in a mobile chicken coop for a variety of feeding areas. I’ve never really seen chickens out running laps before, but these looked like some healthy, energetic chickens. We also got to see the greenhouse, the re-purposed washing machine they use for washing greens, the quonset huts that the interns working the farm live in, and of course the pigs and piglets, newly added to the farm that year.
The next dinner we went to was at Red Wagon Organic Farm, also on Valmont. The table was quite a hike from the parking area, but was set up in the middle of fields and truly gave you a unique experience. The farm tour was quite interesting as well. Aside from the fact that they have so many varieties of vegetables (I got very excited listening to all of the heirloom tomatoes they had planted), they are doing some interesting work with row covers and ‘plasticulture’ in order to speed up the growing season and increase the health of the plants. Row covers are basically a somewhat translucent cover that keeps the plants from having to fight the wind, and lets them enjoy some warmer temperatures. They have some research information on their website about this, should you care to read more. The food at the farm dinners is always quite good, but perhaps not the most creative or absolutely top-notch food we have eaten. But given the fact that they are cooking on a grill and in a bus in the middle of a field, it’s pretty impressive. And you simply cannot beat produce that was picked that recently, in that close proximity to the table at which you are eating. My only complaint is that sometimes the bug spray just doesn’t fend off all of the mosquitoes that join the table after the sun goes down.
We have had some great conversations with people at these dinners, and have met nutritionists, farmers, and people who are just local food-loving, farmers’ market-attending foodies. The picture below is the view right across from me at the table while the fellow diner across from me was out of his seat.