The farm-to-table movement is by no means a new concept; for ages, it was the normal way people consumed their food. However, the idea to serve local, direct-from-the-producer foods in restaurants or cafeterias is starting to catch on more and more, and it is primarily how Megan Pryke makes a living in Newton.
As owner of The Lemon Tree Tea House & Restaurant, Pryke takes pride in her work knowing most of the ingredients she uses to make her fresh quiches and Scotch meat pies come directly from a local proprietor or farmer. Apart from ingredients like sugar and the like, everything is homemade with freshly acquired goods.
“When I say we are doing things from scratch, we are doing them right down to the last, minute details from scratch,” Pryke said, noting she will find local produce from places outside of Jasper County like Grinnell and Elkhart, just to name a few. “We do, quite literally, everything from scratch.”
So being involved in Newton Main Street’s Farm to Table event this weekend was a no brainer. Erin Yeager, executive director of Newton Main Street, is helming the event this year with the help of 13 donors and numerous food suppliers. As of Tuesday, roughly 80 people have signed up for the Saturday afternoon meal.
In addition to spreading more awareness about the Farm to Table movement and the proprietors working to give people fresh, local ingredients, the event is a fundraiser for downtown “utility wraps” to be used on the utility boxes near the south corners of the square by the stoplights. Yeager said they will spruce up the aesthetics.
From 5 to 9 p.m., guests who have purchased a ticket before Thursday at the Newton Main Street Office, 112 First St. N., will be treated to a five-course meal and food samplings in the newly refurbished Hotel Maytag Ballroom. The menu will be prepared by The Lemon Tree Tea House & Restaurant and Z Marie’s.
An appetizer of cheese grazing trays with croissants will kick off the food-filled night, followed by a roasted red pepper soup and servings of fresh mixed greens with apple, cranberries, pecans and feta cheese with raspberry vinaigrette. Drinks will be available at a cash bar.
Guests can then choose between a roasted leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic or herb-rubbed beef tenderloin with Sriracha honey glazed brussel sprouts and roasted baby potatoes for an entrée. For dessert, chefs will prepare pumpkin pecan tarts with a caramel sauce.
“During the meal we’ll have clips talking about the producers, where they’re sourced from and their farm and then they do a small interview,” Yeager said, adding that people will be able to get to know those farmers producing the food they’re eating in real time thanks in part to the Jasper County Farm Bureau.
Trish Hafkey of the Jasper County Farm Bureau told Newton Daily News the bureau “is excited to be working with Newton Main Street to provide content for the Farm to Table event” through videos highlighting the specific producers supplying the ingredients for Saturday night’s menu.
“Every operation, whether commercial or non-conventional, has a unique and interesting story that we are proud to help share directly with our community,” Hafkey said.
Regina Frahm, owner of Esther & Co., will be providing the beef and lamb for Newton Main Street’s Farm to Table dinner, both of which were raised on her family farm. As a business owner of the recently opened “modern day mercantile,” Frahm knows the importance of supporting local producers and those who bolster small family farms.
“Yes, it’s fun to use the products that we grow on the farm ourselves, but it’s just as exciting to (share),” she said. “This comes directly from a producer, directly to your event. So we have as much control as possible apart from when it’s at the locker when it’s being processed.”
With consumers’ newly energized interest in knowing where their food comes from, Frahm said more people ought to adhere to the farm to table movement and develop a connection to agriculture.
“It’s inherent in humans because that’s how we started,” she said. “We still like that process. Once you start familiarizing yourself with fresh foods and whole foods, your body wants that and I think you enjoy it. We all like going to the farmers’ market and you like seeing what somebody grew and meeting the people. You like knowing that the money your spending where it’s actually going.”
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org