Abundant Harvest Outreach’s 1st Annual Benefit Dinner
Caria Hawkins and family host Thanks-giving Jazz Dinner Party with a Purpose.
Abundant Harvests sustainable farm recycles EVERYTHING. This isn’t your garden variety (no pun intended), toss-an-aluminum-can-into-a-designated-bin type of recycling, this place is a monument to eco-efficient living and manufacturing of foodstuffs.
After participating in GastroFest 2015 a week earlier, Hawkins and family hosted their first annual benefit dinner on the last Saturday in March, which included a live jazz band, dinner, and silent charity auction. Before the soiree kicked into high gear, guests were treated to a guided tour around parts of the perimeter of the 38 acre farm, with 20 of those acres dedicated to pasture land and orchards. As guests sat atop stacks of hay on the trailer of a tractor driven by her dutiful husband, Hawkins pointed out all of the various vegetation and the creative ways that they have managed to reuse nearly everything that they produce on their land.
For starters, their water is supplied by an artesian well (an underground confined water aquifer that provides its own pressure once it is tapped into) from which the humans, livestock, and vegetation all hydrate. The runoff pond is fed by a spring as needed so that it never dries out. Bream, Catfish, and Trout live inside that pond and are fished out by–you guessed it–worms that are cultivated on the farm. Hawkins says that there also used to be Bass in the pond, but then they vanished…so she thinks.
“There may still be some bass in there, but we can’t find them,” explains Hawkins, giving the Bass a mysterious Lochness monster-like quality within her fish farm.
Implementing aquaponics, they then use the waste product of the fish as nutrients to help fertilize their soil. Hawkins even reuses the fishing line, wiring it around posts that surround her kale and collards to form an “invisible fence” that keeps wild deer from eating the precious pesticide free crops, which had become a big problem for them.
Towards the outer edges of the property, Angus cattle languidly roam pastures that are surrounded by six different kinds of pecan orchards, hardwood, and pine trees. 90 trees yield about 2,000 pounds of pecans per year. Nothing is left to waste–those ubiquitous and oh-so-pesky pesky pine needles serve as sustenance for the blueberries and even the inedible red berries are used as Christmas decorations by Hawkins.
“As God intended, nothing was meant to go to waste,” proclaims Hawkins.
Also on hand are hoop houses–like greenhouses but for herbs and seedlings–and shitake mushroom huts, pieces of wood with spore valves placed inside of them that, in the right environment, can produce mushrooms for up to six years before they need to be replaced. The livestock are all organically kept as well. The pork are fed only corn and clear water and the chickens are free range and antibiotic free.
After the impressive tour of the completely and impressively self-sustaining farm, the festivities began. The fresh organic jazz was provided by Akia Uwanda and Friends, who blended funky bass, saxophone, and drums with the smooth voice of Uwanda, who fired up some sultry Sade and Anita Baker covers as she left the performance area to dance amongst the audience (including my bashful three-year-old son, Rex). The sustainable ingredient, full course meal was prepared by celebrity Chef Elliot Farmer of “The Taste” fame and consisted of catfish, pork, and chicken along with collard greens and tossed salad. Though he described them as delicious, Farmer didn’t recommend his sweet tea nor his signature pear cobbler for dessert if you happened to have “the sugars.”
The band was rocking, the torches were lit, and the unseasonably cool weather really hit the spot as those in attendance took to the impromptu barn house dance floor, sustaining the party with a purpose throughout the rest of the evening with bodies fueled by organic goodness and the knowledge that %100 of the silent auction held that night went to the operational cost of the Abundant Harvests Organic Gardens and Farm and Outreach towards troubled and disadvantaged youth.
Hawkins plans to hold the benefit dinner annually, so you can start planning for next years feast ahead of time.