Sick of Cold Weather? Never Fear! Dinner on the Farm Season is Near

The lawn outside my window is a sloppy montage of green and brown. It’s still cold outside, and I’m still buried under layers of blankets inside my cozy house. Oh Mother Nature, you trickster! It’s almost May and we’ve been so patient! Can we please have our spring now?

I am optimistic!  In fact, a few days ago, I reserved my tickets for the inaugural 2011 Dinner on the Farm event. Knowing that in just a few short months I will be lounging in the sun-warmed grass of Crandall Garden Farme, sipping locally-brewed beer and enjoying a delicious curry dinner prepared with produce grown within hundreds of feet of me, reminds me that -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- a season of bountiful, fresh, local produce; reconnecting with fellow food lovers; and many more farm dinners is on its way.

Monica Latz, founder and owner of Dinner on the Farm (and occasional SGT volunteer), grew up on an organic dairy farm in Southern Minnesota, spent her college years working at Bluff Country Co-op in Winona, and finally landed in the Twin Cities, where she has worked in several restaurants and helped retail stores market organic foods. It's clear that Monica has brought this breadth of background in food, farming, and eating to her farm dinners, which are now entering their third year. A Dinner on the Farm event is like a microcosm of a local food system at its finest, bringing together all of its components -- farmer, producer, chef, eater, land, animal, and food -- to support, connect, and celebrate one another. “Physically being on the farm and talking face to face with those who grow our food brings a whole different dimension to how we eat,” Monica explains.

Monica Latz at the inaugural Garden Farme eventMonica Latz at the inaugural Garden Farme eventDinner on the Farm returns to its roots this year -- its kickoff event was also held at Crandall Garden Farme, in June 2009. At that first event, Birchwood Cafe Chef Marshall Paulsen cooked up a meal featuring locally raised meat and produce from the garden. Summit beer was served, along with cocktails made up of Prairie Organic Vodka and rhubarb and honey from the farm. Bruce Bacon, resident gardener, provided farm tours, local musicians performed live music, and some brave visitors pitched tents and continued the fun into the next morning.

Since then, dinners have been held at Bullfrog Fish Farm, where guests got to (literally) fish for their supper, which was then grilled by owner Herby Radmann; Turnip Rock Farm, featuring a Thai meal prepared by Chef Joe Hatch Surisook of Northeast Minneapolis restaurant Sen Yai Sen Lek; and Todd Churchill’s grass-fed cattle ranch Thousand Hills, with steaks prepared by The Strip Club’s J.D. Fratzke.

The mission of Dinner on the Farm “to create unique events that celebrate and support local farms.” Reflecting on her motivation for creating the dinners, Monica explains, “One of the best ways I can think of to thank our local farmers for the abundance of fresh and tasty food they provide our community is to come together and celebrate their work.”

The meal itself, and the farmers who make it possible, are central to Dinner on the Farm events, but there’s usually a lot more going on. Guests and farmers start the evening with a farm tour, and meals are generally followed by a bonfire and live music by local musicians. Camping is usually allowed, and other activities are thrown in too -- at Thousand Hills, Will Winter provided a lesson on foraging for edible plants, while the upcoming event at Garden Farme will include a pre-meal yoga session. Dinner on the Farm is also, by design, very family-friendly, because Monica stresses the fact that “it is so important for children to see where their food comes from and learn about how it is grown.”

Spots are still available -- but going fast -- for the June 5th dinner at Crandall Garden Farme. The meal will be prepared by Curry Diva Heather Jansz, pre-meal yoga will be offered by Patrick Nelson of Corepower Yoga and Betsy Weiner of Yoga Center of Minneapolis, and Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers will provide post-meal musical entertainment. Bruce Bacon will lead a walking tour, explaining how permaculture design concepts have informed the development of the farm, creating a diverse, resilient ecosystem. The cost is $50 for adults, $15 for children age five to twelve, and free for children under five. Volunteers are also happily accepted! To reserve your spot, send an email to Monica at

Can’t make it in June? Stay tuned for an announcement of Dinner on the Farm’s July event, which promises to be “brew-tastic” (and events in August and September) by Liking Dinner on the Farm on Facebook or emailing the address above to add your name to the mailing list.

Dinner on the Farm Photos by Aaron Davidson.

Georgia Rubenstein works at an environmental non-profit in Minneapolis, and loves food in all of its forms -- growing it, cooking it, eating it, feeding it to her worms, and then starting the cycle all over. She can be found philosophizing about food, considering food policy issues, and working to harness the incredible power of food to save the world. She does all sorts of great things with SGT.