by ANNA RABHAN
“Farm-to-table” has been a difficult buzz phrase to ignore in the sustainable food movement lately. But between articles in national magazines that make it seem like a fantasy only the rich can afford and the plethora of related phrases, organizations and aesthetics, it has also joined the ranks of the more confusing sustainability concepts.
As with many of those concepts, farm-to-table is, at its core, quite simple. It concerns connecting people, in a tangible way, to the food they eat and the origins of that food. The premise is that years of industrial farming and a global food supply system have contributed to an aesthetic distance between people and what they eat. People, in other words, have become disconnected from, and unaware of, what it is that they are actually consuming, how it’s produced and who produces it for them. One of the ways organizations, and even individual farms, that are trying to close that gap are doing so is to organize farm-to-table events. One such event, a farm-to-table dinner, will take place in St. Augustine on November 15th.
Many months ago, several local farmers and the expert chefs at The Floridian Restaurant decided to pool their resources, expertise and products to create an unforgettable culinary event that will showcase the bounty available right here in Northeast Florida. The principal organizer, Dawn Hutchins of www.floridacoastalcooking.com, says, “With more and more people focused on their health and an increasing interest in adding fresh, seasonal and local produce into their diets, local farms and farm shares are gaining in popularity. On November 15th The Floridian, KYV Farm, Terk’s Acres goat farm and Cartwheel Ranch are coming together to celebrate the start of a new season.”
Organic Adventurer readers are quite familiar with the feature farm providing the produce for this event. KYV Farm (www.kyvfarm.com), in Switzerland, is owned by farmers Francisco Arroyo and Vivian Bayona. The couple opened the farm in 2006 after relocating from Puerto Rico. They offer a seasonal Community Supported Agriculture share program, tours, workshops, an apprenticeship program and a Feed-a-Family program. In May 2011, KYV became USDA Organic certified. Vivian and Francisco feel that the farm-to-table dinner is the perfect event to demonstrate that their fresh produce can be used in both simple home preparation and in a gourmet setting. Vivian says, “It’s going to be the freshest and tastiest event of the fall!”
Terk’s Acres goat farm (www.terksacres.com) will provide fresh goat’s milk products for the meal. The St. Augustine farm, owned by Sharon TerKeurst, is the result of inspiration Sharon received along with the gift of a Nubian goat in 1984. Today, she and her husband have 28 registered, award-winning Alpine goats. Sharon gives back to the local community by offering 4-H programs for children. You can meet her and check out Terk’s Acres hormone- and antibiotic-free products on Saturdays at the Old City Farmers Market in St. Augustine.
The free-range, USDA certified grain- and grass-fed beef for the meal will come from Cartwheel Ranch Meats (www.cartwheelranchmeats.com). For 25 years, Jacksonville-area Cartwheel has provided beef from humanely raised cattle to the local community. Their website states: “In recent years, with the industrialization of beef and the distrust created by inhumane animal treatment and food-borne illnesses, the decision was made to start providing customers with safe, high quality, all-natural beef.” As such, they never feed their cattle animal byproducts and do not use growth hormones or antibiotics. They offer beef packages and may add a farm share in the near future.
Finally, the dinner will take place at The Floridian Restaurant in historic St. Augustine (www.thefloridianstaug.com). Head chef Genie Ketner opened the casual restaurant, at 39 Cordova Street, a year ago. The Floridian regularly features fresh, seasonal and local foods in order to support the local community, environment and economy. Therefore, Genie is especially excited to participate in the farm-to-table dinner. “Events like this,” she says, “are great for bringing more awareness for the farm-to-table movement on the First Coast.”
Ticket sales for the dinner begin October 1st. Tickets purchased before November 8 are $35 for the meat option and $25 for the vegetarian option. After November 8, the meat option will be $40 and the vegetarian option will be $30. Those are incredible prices considering that diners will be treated to a four-course meal. Guests may also purchase wine or beer separately. The first seating will be at 6 pm. If it sells out, a second seating will open at 8 pm. Tickets may be purchased through The Floridian by calling 829-0655.
The Organic Adventurer
by ANNA RABHAN