There’s a new happening in Tehama County and it’s all thanks to volunteers at the non-profit Tehama Together. When Tehama Together founder, Orle Jackson, began asking active members if they would be interested in putting on Field to Fork dinners in Tehama County, passions united. The nonprofit’s mission is to facilitate solutions for a healthy and successful Tehama County. This may sound like a broad undertaking, but Tehama Together has been doing just that for nine years. Field to Fork dinners fit perfectly with the organization’s mission by supporting local farms and creating an event that fosters community.
These dinners have been no simple undertaking, with volunteers likening them to organizing a small wedding. However, magic happened when they promoted the first dinner: tickets sold out in just three days! Having community support and demand for their labor of love fueled the Tehama Together volunteers to think bigger.
How can we provide events like this throughout the year featuring the best of our county’s farm fresh ingredients in each season? With this in mind, Tehama Together pursued a grant from the McConnell Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation and received it. The group will soon be purchasing a transportable trailer to house the many items it takes to put on a dinner at a farm. This asset will allow them to showcase farms that may not have the on site resources for hosting a dinner, such as tables, chairs, lighting, and tents.
These Field to Fork dinners come with four simple goals for each dinner guest’s experience: feature Tehama County ingredients and farms; celebrate friendships formed over meals and local agriculture; build community by uniting local farmers with consumers; and share the stories of the hardworking farm families in Tehama County.
If the reception and subsequent feedback from the first dinner are any indication, Tehama Together is right on track. Guests from the first dinner shared positive reactions to their experience. Comments praised meeting other diners at the dinner’s long tables and finding out what had brought them to the dinner. One guest found the event “one of the most special I have ever attended,” and another called it “laid back and fun” and confessed, “At the same time I felt like I was participating in an important event. Not only that, it gave me a chance to spend a nice evening with my wife.”
By early June, Tehama Together had a second dinner under their belt and began preparations for the third. The first Field to Fork Dinner, under the direction of Red Bluff chef Yess B, served fifty-five people and included ingredients from Bianchi Orchards, Burlison Fruit Stand, Duivenvoorden Dairy, Jefferson Bee Company, Julia’s Fruit Stand, Nickler Acres, Pacific Sun Farms, and Red Gate Ranch. The second dinner, at Burnsini Vineyards in Cottonwood, featured the likes of Kitchel Family Organics, Orland Farmstead Creamery, Wild Groves, Brush Arbor Farmstead, Flying T Ranch, Haynes Family Citrus, Haverton Hill Creamery, Larson’s Honey, and Hooker Creek Farms, twenty local farms in all. Eighty guests were tucked among the grape vines at Burnsini Vineyards. Tehama Together anticipates being able to support eighty guests again at their third dinner, scheduled for September 2018.
To find out more about these dinners, agriculture in Tehama County, or Tehama Together, follow Field to Fork Tehama on Facebook and Instagram or email them directly at email@example.com. To offer volunteer services at a Field to Fork dinner or to be part of the planning committee, please call the Tehama Together offices in downtown Red Bluff at 530.527.2223.
Erin McCarthy Bianchi is a Registered Dietitian and all-around local food lover. She and her two daughters spend many hours in the kitchen cooking and eating. Follow Erin on Instagram @thefarmerandthecook for more simple recipes using local ingredients.