The popular Farmer’s Table is held every August at a different Litchfield County farm. Farmers and residents enjoy a celebration of seasonal bounty that raises funds to support the growth of local agriculture.
The Farmer’s Table launched in 2010 when a group of ‘locavore’ friends hosted a harvest dinner bringing together farmers and residents in dialogue. The goal was to increase awareness of Litchfield County farms and their abundant offerings.
“Over ten years ago, Howard Rosenfeld and I were talking about the importance of sourcing our food locally. Howard was prescient in his concern that our system might break down and that we would need our small farms on which to rely. Separate from eating organic, healthy food, I cannot imagine Litchfield County without its farms, and the first Farmer’s Table dinner was created to bring this diverse community together, to eat local food made by local chefs and to honor the farmers,” says founding member, Helen Bartlett.
This informal conversation over delicious local produce evolved into a deeper dialogue between farmers and their neighbors. Recognizing the potential broader impact of this unique exchange, Partners for Sustainable Healthy Communities, Inc invited The Farmer’s Table to become an initiative in PSHC’s support of area farmers. Litchfield County farms have a long history of providing nourishment to our communities. Many family farms have operated continuously across several generations while others are just beginning their farming journey.
Each year, the event moves to a different Litchfield County farm. Past Farmer’s Table dinners were held at Arbutus and Arethusa Farm in Litchfield, Back 40 Farm in Washington, Hopkins Vineyard in Warren, South Farms in Morris, Sullivan Farm in New Milford, Sunny Meadow Farm in Bridgewater and Toplands Farm in Roxbury.
Sourcing ingredients from a changing array of the over 250 farms throughout Litchfield County, local chefs prepare a special menu that allows guests to sample the broad range of offerings available from these farms. The festive dinner and drinks are served as attendees enjoy an evening at the farm in appreciation of our farmers.
This year’s sold-out event takes place on Saturday, August 7. It will honor Washington’s Averill Farm 275th year in continuous operation. It will feature an elegant outdoor picnic-style venue amidst the farm’s apple orchards under the stars. Chef Gianna Coletti and her Verbena Catering Company team will prepare locally-sourced food from 16 area farms including Anderson Acres Farm in Kent, Averill Farm in Washington Depot, Berry Ledges Apiary in Milton, Calf and Clover Creamery in Cornwall Bridge, Chanticleer Acres in Litchfield, Earth’s Palate Farm in Warren, Evergreen Berry Farm in Watertown, Helmstead Farm in Washington Depot, Marble Valley Farm in Kent, March Farms in Bethlehem, Ox Hollow Farm in Roxbury, Ridgeway Farm in Cornwall, Riverbank Farm in Roxbury, Starberry Farm in Washington, Vibrant Farm in Bantam, and Wild Carrot Farm in Torrington.
A new short documentary film, Seed and Faith, by Larry Milburn, featuring Litchfield County farmers and their creativity in finding safe ways to continue providing residents with their seasonal offerings during the pandemic will be premiered at the dinner.
The Farmer’s Table Committee consists of nine committee members and countless volunteers. Present committee members include: Helen Bartlett, Julie Bailey, Kay Carroll, Sunday Fisher, Ronnie Maddalena, Philippa Feigen Malkin, Susan Markert, Kate McGarr, and Helen Waldron.
“Through association with this group, I have learned the profound dedication of these small local farmers, the process of farming and the nurturing of truly healthy produce nourishes the local community,” says Susan Markert, Farmer’s Table Committee.
To support farming in Litchfield County, funds raised by the annual dinner provide grants for farmers to attend valuable agricultural conferences and to gather together to discuss common challenges. Funds also support the annual purchase of fresh produce from area farmers to feed our food-insecure neighbors. Funds also go to the biennial agro-educational Litchfield Hills Farmers Forum free to Litchfield County farmers as well as summer farm internships for high school and college students interested in careers in agriculture.
Sponsorships are available and donations are always welcome to support the important work of our local farms.
“To grow up on a dairy farm, or any farm is just awesome—it teaches you so much about respect, hard work, responsibility and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” says Bill Davenport, Educator, UCONN 4H Litchfield County.
The Farmer’s Table is a 501(c)3 organization. For more information about this year’s and past events, please go to: shc-ct.org/farmers-table