Dinner at Down to Earth Farm
These days, the term farm-to-table is commonly used in restaurants to signify the connection between local producers and eateries, a reminder to customers that food does, indeed, come from farms. With the spotlight on local produce and other hand-crafted foods, diners develop a sense of what’s available in their area and how it may change with the seasons. Even so, the reality of a working farm can be difficult for many to grasp just by eating vegetables or meat grown by a local producer.
To really understand what goes on behind the food we eat, one is well-advised to walk in the footsteps of a farmer – literally – by visiting a working farm. We had that opportunity recently, when Down to Earth Farm hosted a dinner, serving items that came, literally, from their farm. Owners Brian and Kristin Lapinski and their team set up a long community table in between rows of zinnias, sunflowers and vegetables, creating a notable feeling of being one with their land.
Chef Emilio Dinzel prepared an Argentine-style pig roast and the rest of the meal featured fresh organic ingredients from the field, cooked over an open fire. Diners feasted on eggplant, tomatoes, fennel, Brussels sprouts on the stalks, all served family-style. If any ingredients were in short supply, one could easily walk a few yards and pick more for the grill!
The evening also reflected the cooperation routinely found in the food community, as small businesses collaborate and create partnerships that help showcase different products. As guests arrived, they were greeted with a cocktail featuring spirits from Manifest Distilling, to accompany a tour of the farm. Bread and dessert were both provided by Community Loaves, a bakery in Murray Hill, and organic wine was provided by Grassroots Natural Market. Even the pig was raised nearby at neighboring Wild Rabbet Farm.
While farm visits may be available, the opportunity to visit a working farm and enjoy a meal with food grown just a few feet away from your seat is rare indeed. We encourage you to look for events that allow you to see exactly where those tomatoes were grown, what the okra plants look like, how beans are trellised, and how cage-free chickens behave. These are the experiences that connect us to the people who grow the food we eat, and along the way, create a sustainable community.