Harvest Dinner celebrates local foods and farmers this weekend

By Correne Martin

An opportunity to celebrate and bring awareness to local foods and farmers is coming up Saturday, Sept. 21 as Driftless Wisconsin Grown (DWG) hosts its Harvest Dinner. The event is scheduled to be held at Gatherings on the Ridge, a new event facility, owned by Jeanne Aspenson, located in a barn about a mile and a half north of Eastman at 25941 Hwy. 27.

The Harvest Dinner is the perfect occasion for area residents to get to know their local farmers, sample some of the farmers’ specialties and sit down to a dinner of all-local cuisine. It will also be a fun night of music, drinks and social interaction.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. A cash bar will feature local wine, beer and cider. Guests will have time to meet and talk with local farmers, many of whom have provided stands and familiar foods at Crawford County farmers markets in recent years.

The Harvest Dinner, catered by Jill Riggs, will be served buffet style at 7 p.m. Riggs is from TriR Catering, Gays Mills. The menu will include lemon basil tilapia (Roth Fresh Farms), free range baked chicken (Coulee View Family Farm), mixed romaine salad with two dressings (Roth Fresh Farms), garlic chive mashed potatoes, green beans almondine (Austin Rush Creek Farm), ratatouille, squash or roasted beets, and a homemade potato roll.

A barn dance highlighted by musical duo Dan and Shirley Harwood will cap off the night. The Harwoods, who live in Prairie du Chien, have played their crowd-pleasing music at the Prairie Street Farmers Market in Prairie du Chien a couple of times.

The entire night offers a unique setting, distinctive food and the chance to support eating healthy and locally. It is a fundraiser for Driftless Wisconsin Grown, which sponsors the Farm-to-School program, Crawford County farmers markets and more.

“It will be a really great chance for the farmers to talk about their farm and what they do,” said Kathleen Hein, DWG board member and one of the Harvest Dinner coordinators. “Supporting the local food movement means you’re supporting a local family that’s in the local school system. The Harvest Dinner is a way to celebrate that.”

“I think it’s important for people to know where their food comes from. This is a learning opportunity,” added Erika Stubbs, fellow Harvest Dinner coordinator.

Last year, about 80 people attended the Harvest Dinner. Organizers are hoping to see that number doubled this year.

Tickets for adults and children can be purchased (4 and under are free) at the door on Sept. 21, or in advance at The Local Oven and the Prairie Street Farmers Market, both in Prairie du Chien; Eastman Locker; or Gays Mills Co-op.

For more information about DWG, visit driftlesswisconsingrown.org.

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