Delicious Down on the Farm
The first Saturday in October began for many of us with bright hot sun, a drive to just beyond Troutdale, and a long day of fun and work. Slow Food Portland, Oregon and Dancing Roots Farm collaborated with Chef Ryan Mead from Bent Brick and ARRO, a nonprofit which serves families dealing with autism, to host an autumn dinner with music, activities for kids, a farm tour and small fundraiser for ARRO.
Thanks to our farmer hosts Shari Sirkin and Bryan Dickerson for opening their farm to us. Dancing Roots, a small family farm, was voted an Ecotrust Local Hero for their commitment to suppling high-quality produce to their CSA members and local restaurants. The fields were dotted with winter squash of all varieties, which would be stored in a new refrigerated area that Bryan had just finished. As our volunteers climbed up and down the hill during set up, huffing and puffing, it was easy to forget that Shari and Bryan do this all day every day!
Starting the Indian summer day off right with a glass of cold wine before heading to the fields for a tour where farmer Shari Sirkin pointed out each field named after grandmothers in their families.
And you thought you could only eat vegetables. Well, here at Slow Food, we paint with them, too. Kids attended the farm dinner in full force and were well occupied, contributing their creativity to a giant mural.
Both bubbles and tunes blew. Our host Bryan Dickerson on sax with Margie Gibson on vocals and John Gilmore on keyboard.
Alma peppers stuffed with eggplant, summer squash and tomatoes with pesto sauce.
One unique aspect of this farm dinner was the inclusion of Ark of Taste products. Don’t know about Ark of Taste? It’s part of a Slow Food effort to preserve biodiversity in our foods and food products. Oregon has created a task force to load more foods onto the Ark. Kids played with two varieties of Ark of Taste squash grown by Dancing Roots, and our dinner included Amish paste tomatoes and ground cherries, both of which are Ark of Taste products grown on the farm.
Chef Ryan Mead of Bent Brick (right) and his assistant Matt made cooking for 90 people outside look easy. Platter after platter of bright-colored dishes appeared—pork with pickled ground cherries in a vivid red Jimmy Nardello pepper sauce, salads using greens from the farm, including one with pickled fresh coriander, a new taste, to be sure.
A nearly full moon closed out the evening. It couldn’t have been a better way to welcome in the fall. This small farm provided so much more than the vegetables and the space for us. Shari and Bryan gave us a taste of their dedication and passion for changing, in small incremental steps, the way we all eat. The fields will soon be put to bed for the winter, but the memory of the dinner will hover over the land, seeding thoughts of the next gathering.
Many thanks also to all our volunteers who made this event possible. We couldn’t have done it without you. And to the following: Eat Oregon First for pork, Iliamna Fish Company for salmon, and to Red Ridge Farms for olive oil, New Seasons, Kitchen Share, Ladd’s Cottage and Happy Cup Coffee.
Ellen Lodine and Jane Pellicciotto contributed to this post.
Thanks for sharing