It's a romantic idea and one that makes easy sense, all at once. It's a daydream-turned-reality, a sturdy farm-to-table link, and perhaps one of the Twin Cities' best-kept secrets. It's Dinner on the Farm, a recurring event created and organized by Minnesota-native Monica Walch. Ticket-holders have the opportunity to eat dinner cooked by local, professional chefs at the farm on which many of that dinner's ingredients were produced. A local brewery and band are also featured, and diners have the chance to tour the farm and interact with the chefs.
Monica's childhood on a diary farm in Rochester combined with her post-college experience working for an organic milk marketing company inspired her to create Dinner on the Farm. "I was searching for a way to bring local food closer to the people who were buying it, and I liked the idea of turning it into an event so more people could participate in it at one time." Dinner on the Farm was born in 2009, and hosts around 5 events every summer on different farms around the Twin Cities metro.
Monica explains that the community-building aspect of her business is her favorite part. "There were constantly people visiting my parents at the dairy farm I grew up on. They would stop work for hours and just sit and talk and have coffee and bars with their guests. This type of in-person connection doesn't happen as much any more, and I think people are missing it." Each Dinner on the Farm has room for around 150 guests, small enough that each attendee has the chance to interact with the chefs, brewers, band members and other diners.
What type of person attends Dinner on the Farm? "It's people on a date, it's someone passionate about local food coming on their own, it's an entire family celebrating an 80th birthday, it's the band member's friend who has no clue about local food but ends up learning a lot and having a great time." Most of Monica's dinners sell out shortly after they're posted on her website. She relies on word-of-mouth as her primary form of advertising.
"It means so much to the people growing the food to know that people care about it. I love that Dinner on the Farm helps create that connection for people." There are two dinners with tickets available this summer, and one yet-to-be-announced dinner that will take place in September.
Nicole at Bad Apple Mini Urban Orchards nominated Monica and Dinner on the Farm for this post. Stay tuned to see who Monica nominated for the next post!