The idea of organizing a farm dinner bubbled up in late April when my friend and fellow local food advocate, Leslie Marticke and I wanted to put something together that could be a physical manifestation of both of our graduate studies.
Through my M.A. final project (FoodScape: Savannah), I discovered that people were genuinely interested in exploring the local food system but they really wanted some FOOD to go along with their travel experience. Of course!
Leslie, finishing up her M.F.A. in Design Management, was seeking how to best structure the new Slow Food Savannah chapter to suit the needs of the community.
With our overlapping interests in promoting good, local food and connecting more like-minded people to this movement – the farm dinner planning picked up speed quickly. With the invaluable assistance of farmer Michael Maddox (Green Bridge Farm) and the most excellent Robyn Richardson (Design Management, M.F.A.) we made it happen.
Much of the meal was harvested the day of the dinner and prepared on-site. Our goals for The Great Escape (as we came to call it) were two-fold: get people together to showcase a beautiful organic farm and talk about the new Slow Food Savannah chapter. Personally, I also hoped to connect some people I had been lucky to meet through my studies at SCAD that maybe hadn’t had the chance to link up. Professors, farmers, chefs and community leaders were invited to attend.
My professor Scott Boylston was one of the guests who in reflection of the evening said,
The food was amazing, and the conversation was equally appetizing. And as a piece of the larger puzzle in creating a livable community in Savannah, your gathering was very welcome in that it allowed an opportunity for rejuvenation for some of us who are working so hard in the doing that we forget sometimes that simply being is necessary, too.
SOME QUICK OBSERVATIONS & REFLECTIONS:
Expectations: In the earliest stages we completely overplanned! As “doers” Leslie & I imagined some unnecessary complexity concerning costs, ticketing, hiring chefs, renting tables & chairs… well pretty much everything.
Realizations: Fortunately, we know the benefits of conducting contextual research. After we met with Michael in second stage of planning, we realized he does this kind of thing all the time with his friends, informal dinners that is. Potluck style, bring your dish & finish it in his kitchen. Needless to say, we followed his lead & removed a bunch of cost and stress.
Surprises: Sandoor, a resident on Green Bridge Farm, took it upon himself to provide a fantastic demonstration of how to make Hungarian noodles & pancakes. AMAZING!
Opportunities: For future events, keep consciously trying to diversify the audience. Connect chefs and community leaders to local farmers to facilitate these vital relationships. Also, could a financial model be developed to assist farmers & organizers without compromising the event, making it elitist that is?