Connecting the Dots: Field-to-Table

Jul 19, 2016 by     No Comments    Posted under: Highlight, The Scrapbook

28395748485_7279ec7c30_zFarm-to-Table dining has become wildly popular across the nation, and more people are making deliberate choices based on where their food comes from and how it’s grown. The North Fork Valley is no exception.  

Paonia has been known as an agricultural hub for many years, and is home to an abundance of organic farms. It’s an oasis of cherries, hops, peaches, grapes and more, attracting visitors who hold their food, wine and beer to high standard.

Some farmers are even extending the farm-to-table trend further by inviting folks to dine in their field.

 

Steve Ela of Ela Family Farms hosts an annual dinner in his apple orchard each Spring. Anyone is welcome of course, but Steve prefers to target retail and farmer’s market customers who are not yet familiar with his farm. Guests dine directly beneath the fruit trees where they can be fully immersed in all the smells, sounds and sights of the farm as they gaze upon the West Elk Mountain Range.

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The following day, Steve walks participants through the orchard to talk about how he and his family prune, thin, irrigate, control insects and diseases, and harvest and pack the fruit for sale. “It’s a great opportunity for people to learn about what we do and how we get their fruit to them,” says Ela.

Providing interactive experiences, such as field-to-table dinners is essential for people to develop a true understanding and connection with the land. The more people invest in healthy and local eating, the more people will fight to protect pristine places like the North Fork Valley. And with this increased agricultural support, the local economy will thrive.

In addition to the field to table meal at Ela Family Farms, the West Elks Wine Trail will be hosting a few as well! Leroux Creek and Mesa Winds Farm and Winery will be offering field to table meals on Friday, August 5th, and Alfred Eames Cellars as well as Stone Cottage Cellars will be providing dinner on the 6th. Take a look at the West Elks AVA website to learn more about the West Elks Wine Trail!28395750675_e28ccdf93f_z

And be sure to check out Desdemona Dallas’ article “Climate Change from Farm to Table” to learn more about the connection farmers on the Western Slope and folks on the Front Range have created, the value in fostering these relationships, and how working together can help address some of the planet’s most pressing issues. 

 

Photos by Steve Ela and Jim Brett

 

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