An diverse group of Knox County residents gathered at Swanson Farms in Oneida to kick off the 2016 harvest with the inaugural Farm to Fork Gala. Hosted by the Swanson family and the Knox County Farm Bureau, the event brought farmers and non-farmers together to highlight Illinois agriculture and facilitate conversations.
“We invited leaders from local communities and organizations to introduce them to their neighbors: local farmers who work hard every day to produce food,” said Krista Swanson, who served as host for the event and as a Farm to Fork Gala committee member. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to engage in conversations about food, ask questions, and build relationships that will extend long after the meal concluded.”
Landmark Café & Creperie owner, Phil Dickinson, catered the dinner and created the menu to feature local items, and staples of Illinois agriculture, such as apple-horseradish slaw, sweet corn sautéed with bacon and pickled jalapeno, and brown sugar-maple pumpkin gelato. The meal was served on china, provided by the Farm to Fork Gala committee members.
“We presented a positive image of agriculture and farmers, and showed that we are open to answer any questions our neighbors might have,” said Dan Erickson, local pork producer. The conversations were the main focus of the evening, and guests did just that, talking well-after dessert was served.
“I got to have dinner with the only people in Knox County more passionate about food than I am, because they grow it,” said Jason Crouch, executive Chef, Knox College.
Event sponsors included: Brown Farms, Engel Farms, Goedeke Farms, Knox County Cattlemen’s Association, Knox County Pork Producer's Association, Landmark Café & Creperie, Prairie Farms Dairy, Ropp Farms, Smithfield Foods, and Swanson Farms.