Farm Dinner Gala to honor anniversaries, raise funds for local food pantries

July 22, 2013
Daily Hampshire Gazette
Rebecca Everett

A lot has changed in Valley agriculture in the last 30 years since the business now known as Whole Foods opened as Bread and Circus in Hadley’s Mountain Farms Mall.

Now, the store has more allies in its mission to bring fresh, local produce to people.

They include Whately’s Enterprise Farm and the South Deerfield agricultural advocacy organization Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, better known as CISA.

Both have anniversaries to celebrate as well; CISA’s 20th birthday is this year, and Enterprise Farm has partnered with Whole Foods for 25 years. To celebrate all the milestones between the three, Whole Foods is sponsoring a Farm Dinner Gala at Enterprise Farm Saturday.

“Our longest history is with Enterprise Farm,” said Jaimee Rondeau, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods in Hadley. “We’ve had a long relationship with CISA and done more and more with them in the last few years. We’re just so impressed with the job they do keeping local food in the front of people’s minds. We want to say ‘thank you.’”

With Whole Foods paying for the dinner of local food and drink, “every penny from every ticket” will go to support food accessibility programs that CISA and Enterprise Farm run, said CISA Executive Director Philip Korman.

“People can buy tickets not only to be part of the first ever Farm Dinner, but they can also enjoy a great meal knowing that work is being done to get food to people who are less fortunate than them,” he said.

The funds from the event will help CISA programs, including those that buy farm shares for local low-income seniors and double the value of SNAP dollars (formerly called food stamps) used at farmers markets. Enterprise Farm’s Mobile Market, a retrofitted bus that brings produce to low-income neighborhoods in Springfield and Somerville, sells produce there at discounted prices and accepts SNAP and other coupons, Korman said.

“Helping food accessibility programs is the best way we can give back,” Rondeau said.

The event’s proceeds will do a lot of good, she said, but that’s not the only reason to attend. “We’re hoping it’s going to be a party,” she said.

The evening will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in an Enterprise Farm field under a tent, where local food will be prepared by well-known chefs, including Mary Poehnelt of the current season of Hell’s Kitchen on Fox. The menu includes local fruits, vegetables, meats and desserts. Drinks will be provided by People’s Pint of Greenfield, Mineral Hills Winery of Florence, and Spindrift Soda of Charleston. Rondeau said. Music will be provided by the Milk Bottle Band.

“We’re hoping this will blossom into an annual thing,” Rondeau said.

Tickets range in price from $60 to $150. Rondeau said organizers are hoping to sell all 100 tickets, which could raise between $6,000 and $15,000 for the programs at CISA and Enterprise Farm.

Tickets are available until Wednesday at