Each summer, organizations bring the dinner table outside to local farms, allowing guests to experience fresh food while learning about where it came from – straight from the source.
Plate & Pitchfork founder Erika Polmar started working on the concept as a summer project in 2003. More than a decade later, she is still committed, now with a mission to bring complex issues facing the agriculture industry to the forefront while educating consumers on what farmers do.
“It seems commonplace now, but if you were to beam back in time before smartphones, most consumers were focused on how quickly they could get dinner to the table, not who grew their dinner,” Polmar says. “We wanted to try and change that trend, and thought by giving people a reason to visit farms to see both the places and people that grow their food, we could change that behavior.”
The farms that host Plate & Pitchfork meals are anywhere from 10 to 110 acres. Every dinner begins with a tour of the farm. Guests are encouraged to get to know the farmers and producers beforehand, learning about how they run their business.
Attendees are greeted with a glass of wine and appetizer before heading out on the tour. Throughout the meal, producers who grew and raised the food being served talk about their agricultural journey, leaving room for questions throughout.
“Guests hear about the history of the farm, how they grow their crops and the business model, and most importantly, they have a chance to ask questions,” Polmar says. “They see and hear about the relationship the farmers have with their customers, two of whom are the chefs cooking dinner in the field that night. By the time they sit down to dinner, they may very well have a whole new perspective on the food that’s on their plate.”
Polmar says the organization will continue to seek out ways to support Oregon agriculture and connect consumers, whether it be holding dinners in more remote areas or supporting other regions in developing their own sustainable agritourism enterprises.
More information on farm to fork experiences that may be available near you can be found at: travelportland.com/article/farm-dinners-around-portland.