There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh ripe peaches or the taste of truly free range organic eggs maybe with a slice of crusty fresh artisan baked bread. Or how about a nice tender juicy steak unburdened of hormones, antibiotics and feed fillers. Have I got you drooling yet?
There’s something to be said for knowing where our food comes from and how it has been grown or raised.
So what is a farm to table event?
It’s basically a lovely meal that’s prepared with ingredients sourced directly from a farm. the farmers market, your garden or local artisan produce sellers. It makes use of what’s in season so everything is fresh, more nutritionally dense and much more tasty than the under ripened produce that we find in the grocery stores.
According to a study from Iowa State University, it was discovered that many fruit and vegetables travel around 1500 miles to reach the consumer. Just think about that. In order for it to reach your plate it will have been harvested often long before its ripe just to survive the journey.
A farm to table event enables people to reconnect with taste and flavours as they are meant to be.
Farm to table events are becoming increasingly popular. People are travelling great distances to attend because they are fun, nourishing, informative and a great way to spend some down time. Farm to table events can be held in the afternoon or evening, in a field, greenhouse, barn or a local community hall. In fact the quirky the location the more popular they seem to be.
If you are interested in holding your one in your area there are a few key planning tips that can help you to organize a really great event that will keep people talking for months to come AND interested in what you have to offer.
Choose Your Audience
Your event can be an intimate gathering of 10 or fewer people or it can be a large gathering of 20 plus people. The goal is to focus on a group size that you can easily accommodate. You can invite different groups and put out feelers to see which groups are interested in this type of event.
Community groups, church groups, social organizations are all a great place to start. Your first event will be the hardest to set up and gather a group for but after the first one and the word gets out you will easily be able to fill your seats up.
For your first event it is a good idea to budget your tickets at just a little above cost for each guest. Charging a lesser fee to attend will get the word out about the event and also get the seats filled up. You can even let the guests know that you are offering a special price for this one time.
Once you have gauged interest you can pick a date, plan a menu and send out invites.
Here is the hard part-choosing the menu! Of course you have to incorporate farm fresh foods which can be a little difficult to predict for the day of if you are planning out a month in advance. The goal is to use the freshest ingredients hence the farm to table experience but it can be hard to predict what will be available in a month.
Keep your menu focused on the main ingredients. Consult with your local farmers and market sellers, you may even be able to negotiate a special rate in exchange for promoting them. Keep it simple so that it will accommodate different tastes. Farm to table is all about the natural goodness and simplicity so keeping your menu simple is the best way to go.
Make it pretty!
Part of the experience is the table! If weather permits and you can host the event outdoors than that is the best place. Simple settings with simple flowers are understated and elegant. They will highlight the food that you serve.
Prepare a seating chart, no matter how casual you plan the event to be it is always a good idea to have place cards. It is especially important to have place cards when you are going to have a mixed group of guests that are not familiar with each other.
You want people to feel comfortable and not have to wander around looking for a place to sit. Having place cards provides direction and allows you to keep groups together that registered for the event together.
When you send out the invites ask people (small groups) to RSVP and note any food allergies that they may have so you can avoid serving dishes that contain the allergen. It is a considerate thing to do and it is also a safe thing to do.
You do not want anyone getting sick at your event. Of course if you plan on a large scale event than you will likely not want to ask every single person what they are allergic too but you can include a copy of the planned menu to give people an opportunity to bow out of the event based on their allergies.
Be sure to set a deadline for RSVP’s. You should also ask for deposits or even payment up front, especially if you bill it as a limited seating event.
Get Some Help
You need to enlist some help. You can’t do it on your own. Rope in your friends and family members to help plan and execute the event.Do you need to hire staff for the day to cook or serve? You will also need to choose your role in the event. Will you be the hostess only? Will you be serving? Will you be sitting with your guests? Remember you can’t do everything.
You also have to define everyone else’s role. Who will be serving? Who will be cleaning up? It is important to have clearly defined roles and to establish what everyone will be doing in advance. Of course if you hire a professional staff you do not have to worry about defining their roles but it may be an expense that is not something you can afford with your first event.
Remember word of mouth will be your best advertising so you really want this first event to come off without a hitch. You cannot over plan!
Organising a farm to table event for your local community can be incredibly rewarding. If you enjoy it, well you never know, you may have just found a new business venture.
We love to feature your Farm to Table event on Nurtured Ground so feel free to reach out to us