When Hall High School’s Global Problem Solving (GPS) class approached me to work with them toward their goal of hosting a farm-to-table dinner to raise funds for a community garden, I could not refuse. But when I realized the event would be at the end of January, I almost wished I had! How on earth would we feed 400 people with locally grown produce in the dead of winter in New England? Turns out, it wasn’t so difficult after all.
Upon my first visit to the GPS class, I immediately knew I was in the right place. Vision, motivation, integrity, compassion, creativity…these kids had it all! Who wouldn’t want to be immersed in planning with such an inspiring group? And on the other side of the equation, we were overwhelmed by the support of local chefs, farmers and the greater community.
From planning and conceptualizing the evening to decorating and cleaning up, the students were incredible ambassadors of the farm-to-table movement. They helped prepare the food not only with me at the high school, but also took a field trip to work side-by-side with local chefs in their kitchens – Chef Hunter Morton at Max Downtown and Chef Chris Torla at Trumbull Kitchen. And in the end, those chefs, along with Chef Tony Cameilleri from Rizutto’s and I, stood side-by-side with the students serving guests well into the evening!
Students prepared a variety of home-baked breads representing their diverse cultural backgrounds, educated guests about their goal of a community garden, and were the last to leave as they cleaned up the final pots and pans.
While this evening was a great success, its significance went far beyond raising money for their community garden project, creating awareness and dialogue around where our food comes from, and emphasizing the importance of supporting our local farms, farmers and environment. Everyone in attendance was awed by the bounty of fresh produce grown locally even in the winter months. And it reiterated just how nourishing and valuable it is to know your food from the farm to the table.
Food nourishes us in many ways, but perhaps the most important is how it brings us together.
My sincere thanks to all who donated their time and support. It was truly an honor to work with and beside you:
Hunter Morton – Max Downtown
Anthony Cameilleri – Rizzuto’s
Chris Torla – Trumbull Kitchen
Mark Shadle – G-Zen
Eat clean live well!