Need ideas to make your community a healthier place? Take some inspiration from a TSET Healthy Living Program grantee in Carter County who hosted a Farm to Table Dinner benefiting the Ardmore Downtown Farmers Market. The dinner was prepared using fresh local foods and beverages. Local farmers providing produce for the meal were invited to speak about their produce.
Q & A
Q: How did you develop this idea?
A: Our new farmers market manager got the idea at the FEAST (Food Education Agriculture Solutions Together) event we held a few months ago. A CSA (community supported agriculture) customer of our Downtown Farmers Market Manager in Ardmore offered her amazing new event venue to host the Farm to Table Dinner. They mentioned the idea to me and I agreed to collaborate with them to make it happen. It’s all about relationships and talking about dreams. When the right people get together, things happen!
Q: How did this move your work plan forward?
A: Our community has formed a group that is working toward a community in which everyone understands and participates in a sustainable, local food system (TSET Healthy Living Program outcome G3). The event raised awareness about the Farmers Market and the local foods they offer to the community. The farmers spoke about the importance of buying local to support the local economy and how much healthier and tastier it is, too!
Q: How much did it cost? How much staff time or volunteer effort did it take?
A: Total cash spent was approximately $1100 mostly on meat and newspaper advertisements for tickets to the event. Partners donated much more in-kind for foods, beverages, logo and menu design, venue and volunteer hours. We had approximately six 1-hour planning meetings. Food Prep and cooking time was approx. 3 hours night before and 8 hours day of. Event night – 3 hours.
Owners of the venue and their family members designed artwork and social media posts, provided décor & locally made beverages, and cooked the meal. Local farmers provided the fresh local foods and spoke at the event about what they provided. A local photographer volunteered to take pictures at the event. Four Ardmore Main Street Authority (AMSA) Board Members, two AMSA staff, and three local farmers volunteered as food prep and servers. Local businesses and TSET provided sponsorship for the event.
Q: What lessons did you learn?
A: We could have used a few more volunteers to plate the food and get it out more quickly. They mentioned having additional fundraising opportunities before or during the dinner to raise more money during the event.
Q: Where are you planning to take this idea in the future?
A: There is talk about having this be an annual event at this venue, and to hold similar events quarterly at different locations to engage additional sectors of the local population.
To find a Farmer’s Market near you, visit https://shapeyourfutureok.com/eat-better/farmers-market/tips/