Coming soon: The meaning of RAFT

Photo: Chefs Collaborative

This September, Slow Food Seacoast is planning an exciting and elegant educational component to the Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner to demonstrate what RAFT really means and why it’s an important initiative. Our hope is that diners will take away from this fabulous fine-dining experience a full tummy, a contented smile, and an appreciation of not only what RAFT is but also what it means.

The goal is to bring each diner’s attention back from the plate to the chefs in the kitchen, to the farmers in the field, and to those who have come before as a way of connecting the dining experience to the significance of the “at-risk” produce varieties featured in the RAFT Alliance and, hence, on the Barn Dinner menu.

Diners approaching the barn at Meadow’s Mirth/Berry Hill Farm for the 4 pm cocktail hour will be greeted by tables displaying the very RAFT varieties that will grace their dinner plates an hour later. They can learn where those produce were grown and by whom, why those produce are historically interesting or significant, and who will be preparing that food for the dinner. RAFT seeds also will be available as give-aways to attendees, who can learn how to save the seeds from one year’s harvest for the next year’s planting—which is not only a frugal practice but also an essential step in preserving the best heirloom varieties.

In the barn, displays will illustrate the many connections underlying the dinner. They will feature photos of the 2010 RAFT Grow-Out farmers, chefs, and produce varieties, accompanied by relevant quotes (from farmers and chefs) as well as descriptions and the significance (historical, agricultural, and gastronomical) of the varieties to us New Englanders. In other words, why have people in New England bothered to save these seeds, grow these crops, eat these foods … then start the process all over again for generations? And in this so-called modern age, why should we continue to do so?

Slow Food Seacoast and co-organizers of the Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner are excited to collaborate on this project and look forward to making the event successful in so many ways! Visit the Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner page for event details and purchase your tickets.