That is exactly what Tehama County’s inaugural Field to Fork Celebration accomplished this past Sunday. I had the unique opportunity of attending this event and I am still dreaming of the brown sugar chile pork, watermelon gazpacho and artisanal flatbread topped with sausage, walnuts, and caramelized onion. Mmmmmm….
Field to Fork celebrations bring chefs, farmers and consumers to “break-bread” together and enjoy the seasonal flavors of local agriculture while dining in a beautiful farm setting. This year’s first Field to Fork in Tehama County was prepared by Chef Yess Bryce and hosted by Bianchi Orchards. All of the ingredients were purchased from Tehama County farmers. For instance, Nickler Farms provided the pastured eggs for “Golden Yolk Deviled Eggs” while Julia’s Fruit stand provided their juicy tomatoes for the “Heirloom Tomato Sampler.”
I was inspired by the different cooking methods Chef Yess utilized. For instance, have you ever eaten a pickled walnut topped with pork belly? Me neither but I was pleasantly surprised by its savory salty flavor. The walnuts provided by Bianchi Orchards were used throughout the meal in a variety of dishes. Chef Yess told the guests, “Walnuts are not just for snacking. They are the unsung hero of the nut world.”
As a dietitian I could not agree more. Walnuts are packed with nutrients such omega 3’s, vitamin E and antioxidants. These heart-healthy nuts were also used in a walnut crusted ricotta salad, and as a topping on artisanal flatbread to give it an extra crunch.
The food was delicious but what truly made this evening special was the people.
The laughter and cheerfulness of those attending this event was intoxicating. Good health involves more than just eating healthy food. It is also about feeling a sense of belonging and purpose. This can be easily forgotten in our busy lifestyles but the Field to Fork dinner reminded us of the importance of community and connecting with others. Stories were shared and friendships were made, while local guitarist Mumblefinger played sweet melodies in the background,
The purpose of the Field to Fork event was to connect consumers with local farmers. That connection was made when Anne Bianchi shared her story about founding Bianchi Orchards with her husband Ray. Anne Bianchi was one of the few female farmers in Tehama County when she moved here. Anne began her talk by describing her philosophy on life which she referred to as “The Three F’s: Family, Fun and Friends.” She then shared heartfelt stories of joy associated with farming and raising children. Now those children are grown up and committed to continuing the family farm and incorporating sustainable practices.
Erin McCarthy Bianchi was the visionary and coordinator behind the event. She was supported by a group of volunteers from the non-profit organization Tehama Together. Their goal was to highlight the diverse agriculture within our community educate the public on local farming practices. They spent months preparing for this event and were grateful for contributions made by Bianchi Orchards, Nu-Way Market, Mumblefinger, Walker Printing and Wild Willy’s Smokehouse to help make this event a success.
In addition to being a fun event to attend, the Field to Fork dinner gives back to our community. The proceeds earned from the dinner will be donated to Tehama Together to fund future events for our community.
The Field to Fork celebration was limited to fifty guests and sold out within two days! But if you missed the first one, don’t worry the next event is already in the works. Tehama Together plans on coordinating these events throughout the year. The menu, location, and farmers will change but the celebration of food and community will continue. If you would like to know when the next Field to Fork dinner will take place please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the mailing list or search for @FieldtoForkTehama on Facebook.
Kristin Willard is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist who lives in Red Bluff. She may be reached on Twitter @wfnutritionist and you can visit her at www.kristinwillard.com.