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Farm to Fork |

Farm to Fork

DANVILLE – Long tables carefully set with vintage dinnerware in the middle of the quad at Danville Area Community College and a delicious meal prepared by culinary arts instructor Dana Wheeler await guests next month at a Farm to Fork dinner.

The dinner on Saturday, Aug. 25, not only will showcase fresh produce and herbs, much of which is grown on the college’s 5.5-acre sustainability farm on North Daisy Lane, but it also will serve as a fundraiser to continue the work being done at the farm.


“It’s a fundraiser to supplement the funds we need for supplies, like seeds or if we need to fix farm equipment,” Wheeler said. “The first year we had the farm, we had a grant.

“They still have more things they want to do at the farm,” she said, adding that apple trees were planted there earlier this year. “They’re putting in a children’s area and garden, a washing station and a bee observation tower.”

Rebecca Doss, administrative assistant for the executive vice president’s office of instruction and student services, said, “The bee observation tower is something that’s been talked about and is in the works. We hope to have it in the near future.”

The property is being leased at no cost to DACC by owners Kristy Herr Bartos and her husband, Jerry Bartos. Herr Bartos, who serves on the DACC Foundation Board, offered the college the use of the property in 2015 as a learning site.

Since then, DACC students in a variety of courses of study as well as younger children and teens from District 118’s schools and community programs have reaped hands-on experience and knowledge from the sustainability farm and student learning land laboratory.

“The farm is used much more than just for culinary arts,” Wheeler said. “Peer Court brings kids to get in some of their service hours, and the horticulture and green programs at the college use it, too.”

The college uses the donated land to grow a wide array of crops and native prairie plants, keep honeybees and maintain bluebird nesting boxes. The vegetables, fruit, herbs and honey produced at the farm are used by DACC’s culinary arts program but also are shared with the community.

“We donate a lot of the produce to DACC students, take it to area food pantries, and community organizations like Community Action, Rescue Mission, the VA and the women’s shelter,” Wheeler said.

The Farm to Fork event, in which guests are asked to dress in casual business attire, will kick off with a social hour starting at 5:30 p.m. with sangria and hors d’oeuvres.

For the 6 p.m. dinner, Wheeler is preparing a menu that includes smoked beef brisket, grilled herb chicken, assorted salads, green beans, potatoes and desserts. Fresh lemonade and raspberry iced tea also will be served.

Wheeler said the ingredients for the meal “have been produced on our (DACC) farm or sourced from local farms.”

“It’ll be all fresh-grown produce,” she said. “We’re going to use it for the sides, salads and desserts.”

For months, Wheeler has been scouring thrift shops and estate sales for enough vintage dinnerware and serving bowls to use for the family-style meal. Community members have helped donate some of the dinnerware. Donations are still being accepted at the Corporate and Community Education office in the Bremer Center.

“I think we’re also going to have some entertainment from a student or staff member,” she said. “Mostly, it’ll be a time for people to get together and get to know one another.”

If it rains, the dinner will be relocated to the Bremer Conference Center, Wheeler said.

Doss, administrative assistant for the executive vice president’s office of instruction, is in charge of taking reservations for the Farm to Fork event.

“This is the first time we’ve done this, so we’re just taking reservations at this time,” Doss said. “They can call or email in the reservation and then pay at the door or send a check made out to DACC with Farm to Fork in the memo so we know where it’s going.

“I’m excited about the event. I hope it will go over really well,” Doss said. “Dana is preparing a real nice meal, and there are a lot of good things happening at the farm.”

To RSVP

To make reservations or for more information about the Farm to Fork event starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, on the quad at Danville Area Community College, please contact Rebecca Doss at 443-8770 or email rdoss@dacc.edu or contact Dana Wheeler at 918-0573. Tickets for the event are $75 per person with all proceeds benefiting DACC’s sustainability farm.

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