Monday, July 18, 2016

"Crop-Up" Dinners: Farm to Table Dinners for $20!

A seven-course, farm-to-table dinner for $20? I know, I couldn't believe it, either. Especially having recently attended, courtesy of very generous friends, a similar dinner costing more than ten times that amount. Which, while outrageous for most of us, isn't considered out of the ball park for one of these affairs.

Since my curiosity had been piqued, I had to call and ask Jason Ball, Research Chef at the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State University (OSU)—which is coordinating the series sponsored by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and OSU—what the deal was and how it could possibly be so cheap. He said the idea was to have a series of pop-up dinners across the state that showcased Oregon's specialty crops and the small entrepreneurs who use specialty crops in their products.

That led to writing a grant proposal to the US Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for a two-year dinner series designed to increase awareness of Oregon's fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops. And that's where that low, low price comes in: the cost of each event is subsidized by that grant, making the events accessible to more people who might otherwise not be able to afford a couple of hundred bucks per ticket to get to know their farmers.

A bonus is that each dinner will not only feature a chef-prepared, several-course dinner—there's a cash bar for local beer and wine—but the event also includes a farmers' market-style "showcase" reception where ticket-holders can buy some of the crops that will be appearing on the menu. And on top of that, each attendee will be provided with five coupons for $1 off the price of purchases at the event's farmers' market.

Is this sounding like the event of the summer? It sure is to me! So as not to keep you in suspense, here's a list of the events with a link to get tickets. Have fun!

Aurora Crop-Up Dinner, Sat., July 21, 5:30 pm
Chefs: Ryan & Crystal Abitz, Urban Gourmet
Farms: Big B Farms, Oregon Dulse, HBF International (formerly Hurst's Berry Farm).
Entrepenuers: Froozer, Gelato Maestro
No-host Beer: Oregon City Brewing
No-host Wine: St. Josef’s Winery
Music: James Clem

Astoria Crop-Up Dinner, Thurs., Aug. 4, 5:30 pm
OSU Seafood Lab, 2001 Marine Dr., Astoria

Hermiston Crop-Up Dinner, Thurs., Aug. 18, 5:30 pm
Hermiston Agricultural Research Station, 2121 S 1st St., Hermiston

Medford Crop-Up Dinner, Tues., Sept. 13, 5:30 pm
Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Rd., Central Point

Information is available on the Aurora dinner, with more details to come on subsequent events. You can also sign up for notifications when next year's series is scheduled.

Photos courtesy the Food Innovation Center.


Farmer Jo said...

Fantastic! I wish some were a bit closer to PDX, but what a great idea.

Kathleen Bauer said...

The dinners are taking place all over the state, Farmer Jo, and five more are scheduled for next year. Maybe there's one near you. (And I love this idea, too!)

Ken Hoyt said...

I love this idea! <3