Straight from the ground to your dinner table
MERRILL — On Thursday evening, nearly 50 people will gather at C. Brown Gardens, 21565 County Road C-38, to enjoy an evening of companionship and local food, as part of a Farm to Fork Dinner.
The dinner, presented by ISU Extension and Outreach’s Flavors of Northwest Iowa program, will be from 6-8 p.m. and will include a farm tour.
“We just want to raise awareness of all the local food items and produce that we have in our area,” ISU Extension and Outreach Lyon County Regional Food Coordinator Margaret Murphy said. “We source the food locally. With our Flavors of Northwest Iowa program, we generally are focused on your smaller scale farm folks.”
Murphy partnered with ISU Extension and Outreach Woodbury County Regional Food Coordinator Kellie Solberg to bring the event to C. Brown Gardens.
“This is definitely not their first rodeo,” Solberg said. “They’ve had a really good reputation and they just really know their stuff.”
Pork appetizers will be available at 6 p.m., with the main meal, steak, beginning at 6:30 p.m., complimented with vegetables from the farm. Dessert in the form of ice cream will wrap up the evening.
Solberg stressed the meal is meant to get consumers and local producers in one spot.
“We just want to get people in touch with local producers and have them hear their story, taste their produce and taste the difference between local food and food from further away,” Solberg said. “We filled up to our max capacity, which is a good sign because that means the people still want local food and they want to go to the people they know.”
Murphy said events like Farm to Fork Dinners show interest in local food is growing.
“People want to know more about their food. They want to know how it’s raised, they want to know who’s raising it so this is a great opportunity to meet the grower and talk with them directly and ask questions,” Murphy said.
Consumers can get everything they need from local producers like the Browns right here in northwest Iowa, according to Murphy.
“We have an enormous amount of things you can buy from your neighbor’s backyard. We have all sorts of produce, meats, eggs, honey, jams and jelly and so forth,” Murphy said. “It highlights what we have grown and raised right in our backyard. Consumers can come and sample some of the food.”
Farm to Fork is also meant to show the relationship between producer and consumer is a two-way street, as producers get to show off their product and secure vital support.
“It helps support local growers and local family farms, it helps keep your dollars local,” Murphy emphasized. “It builds community, where you get to know the people who are growing your food.”
Solberg, who just recently joined ISU Extension, explained this Farm to Fork Dinner is only the tip of the iceberg.
“I actually have plans to branch out and reach out to other local producers and invite them to participate in future Farm to Fork Dinners, and get as many people involved as possible,” Solberg concluded.