By Polly Lynn
RUTLAND—The Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) will host its second annual Summer Harvest Fest feast and fundraiser, Sunday, Aug. 14, beginning at 3 p.m. Highlights of the gala event will include music, cocktails, a centerpiece competition dubbed the “Iron Gardener,” a silent auction, and a sit-down dinner.
“We have an ‘Iron Gardener’ competition this year,” said Greg Cox, president of the VFFC and owner of Boardman Hill Farm in West Rutland, during an interview on PEGTV’s Insight show, July 29. “Farmers are bringing in flowers and zucchinis and all kinds of stuff and we’ve got funky containers…I can only imagine what they’re going to produce,” he said.
The Rutland Garden Club is producing the Iron Gardener contest, which challenges contestants to create a table centerpiece entirely from the “store” of materials—mostly flowers, fruits and vegetables—in 30 minutes or less. It is organized similarly to the chef competitions seen on TV, the Garden Club has explained.
The Iron Gardener competition starts at 3 p.m. in Farmers Hall, along with music, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres kicking off the event.
“We’ve also buddied up with local artists —phenomenal artists— to produce a scarecrow competition,” Cox continued. “They will be displayed starting July 15 in downtown stores, then be brought the food center to be auctioned off at the event.”
The “scarecrows” were created by local artists, including Mary Crowley, Norma Montagne, Christine Holzschuh, Karen Seward, Christine Townsend, Ann McFarren, Bekah Fenn, Betsy Moakley, David Moakley and Alice Sciori.
Dinner will be served from 5-7 p.m. and will be prepared entirely with locally grown and produced ingredients. Preparation will be done by the farmers under the direction of Chef Sean Miller of the Foundry, Chef Stanti Schonbachler of the Wallingford Inn, and Chef Steve Lamphere, assisted by students from the New England Culinary Institute and Stafford Technical Center.
The menu will include 100 percent locally raised meats, poultry and produce. Entrees will be available to suit every need, including vegetarian,vegan and gluten-free diets.
“The farmers have been raising the meats, growing the vegetables, baking the breads — it is true farm-to-plate, everything possible will be local,” Cox said. “Last year was our first event, it was considered one of the best food events by many of the folks who attended. This year we plan on making it even better… it’s also bigger this year. Last years we sold 267 tickets this year we have 500 tickets to sell and I think we can do it. We have a lot of organizations buying tables.”
After dinner there will be a short auction for the artist-produced scarecrows and other featured items.
Tickets are $40 per person; 6 years old and under are free. Family-and friend-tables for six or eight may be reserved. Tickets are available at the weekly Farmers Market each Saturday from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. and each Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. in Rutland’s Depot Park, or by calling 802-342-4727. The VFFC is located at 251 West Street in Rutland.
For more information visit vermontfarmersfoodcenter.org.
By Polly Lynn