There is no better place to taste a carrot than while standing upon the soil from which it was just plucked. All food loses flavor the farther it travels from the source, so it’s no wonder that farm dinners, like the ones thatSwallowtail Farms does in Gainesville, FL have taken off with great success. “It affects people more deeply when they come see the farm,” said Noah Shitama, founder of the CSA farm. “You can perceive much more at the farm. It’s much harder to gather the whole picture at the farmers market.”
The first year on the farm, Swallowtail invited four chefs to work together and cook four courses, and they have been doing it ever since. Once they started doing these farm-to-table experiences, the demand escalated recounted Noah. “The experience is so important in terms of making food connections. It inspires farmers, chefs, and the community.”
These dinners give chefs a context within which to work with freshly harvested ingredients, and brings diners into the process. Noah hopes what they’re doing will inspire the community of chefs to put more fresh local produce on their menus. “We are pretty much the only farm doing dinners like these regularly around here — in one way we’re pioneering but I want this to be an example that anyone can take and use as a blueprint all over.”
“Even for us, it’s inspiring and connecting just to bring folks to the farm!” said Noah. “We walk folks around the farm and show them what we are doing, while they sip on some beer brewed by some of our friends atSwamp Head Brewery.”
A long table is set for the guests, usually around 60 people, to sit together and enjoy the culinary journey and dinner is often accompanied by live music. You can expect a feast of the most local proportions, Noah tells us, “Once a month we are a local food restaurant. We don’t produce all the things that we use for these dinners, but it connects us with other producers in the area. For instance, we usually serve artisan cheeses made by local farms, one of them being Cypress Point Creamery.”
As a farm-to-table pioneer in the area, Swallowtail has been dedicated from the beginning to providing education and outreach to school groups, veterans groups, gardeners, educators, and more through tours, workshops, apprenticeships, and even camping trips.
Using the Barnraiser crowdfunding project as a jumping-off point, the farm wants to push the boundaries of using their land as an educational platform. “We want to do a food camp in early summer for kids. It will cover everything from growing to the food, to preparing it, and even to serving it. At the culmination, the kids will host a farm-to-table dinner.”
One of their ideas is to draw mentors from a local high school that has culinary program for each elementary-age student. Through Swallowtail’s campaign you can sign up or sponsor a single kid, or even an entire group! You can also choose to experience one of these incredible Farm-to-Table dinners all for yourself by supporting Swallowtail. Or in the spirit of the season, gift it to someone who appreciates good, local food as much as you do.
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