Dinner Celebrates Local Farmers

With more and more of us becoming aware of the massive resources needed to ship foods to our stores from large distances, it’s important to seek out food producers near those markets to help cut costs and make buying choices that support local agricultural businesses. The South River Machar Agricultural Society held their second annual 100 Mile Dinner, Near North Bounty, on August 23 to celebrate food producers in the area.

DinnerThe society, founded in 1882, is a volunteer based organization that promotes agriculture in the South River/Machar area of Ontario. They host a variety of events, such as a quilt show, taffy pull, awards night and their annual fall fair to endorse the culture.

Organizer Suzanne Learn says the dinner is good for “connecting consumers with local farmers and encouraging people to support local agriculture and build a sustainable local food network,” while “showcasing agriculture within our community and educating the public about local foods.”

The community event sourced local products such as corn, potatoes, carrots, garlic, basil, lovage, red fife wheat, cabbage, micro-greens, honey, maple syrup, chicken, beef, eggplant, peppers, kale and berries to make a five course meal for 140 guests. A core of over 50 volunteers helped at the dinner, which was sponsored in partnership with Foodland Ontario.

They used print media, social media, poster campaigns and word of mouth to promote the dinner, and Learn adds that it was quite a memorable occasion. “Some highlights would be the wonderful feeling of camaraderie shared by our volunteers, community supporters and guests, everyone’s team spirit while baking garlic flatbread in a stone oven during a thunderstorm and the standing ovation for the entire team from the guests.”

Learn says “it was a wonderful experience planning this event. It was great to meet and partner with so many farmers who are excited about their product, and the many clubs and community members who are excited to support the growth of volunteerism in our community and to work with chefs who are happy to share their expertise.” She feels that finding people and businesses who share a passion for your event are key to making it successful.

“My advice to someone planning a similar event would be to work hard at tapping into local resources,” she notes. Build partnerships with like-minded organizations and people to share the work and help your event continue to grow in a sustainable way.”

How do you find compatible people to help with your event planning?