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Have you ever wished that you could plan an extraordinary dinner for your family and friends?  Eating out at the same restaurants can get dull a while.  Have no fear, a local farm-to-table dinner is here!

A new trend has arrived, and that is hosting dinner on a local farm for family and friends.  People rave about how beautiful and unique farm dinners can be.  Do you have what it takes?  (Don’t stress, it’s not too difficult.)

Follow these ten easy steps to plan the perfect dinner for your guests:

1. FINDING A FARM

In order to begin planning for your wonderful farm dinner, you first need to secure a farm.  You may be thinking, “What if I don’t have any farmer friends?” Even if you don’t know farmers in your area, think about what commodity is unique to your location such as cherries, dairy, apples, etc.  Then, look for public farms specializing in your chosen goods to see if hosting a farm-to-table dinner is something they offer.  When you find the right farm, start inviting your friends and family, and save the date!

Dinner on the Farm Auction item for Gleanor's Food Bank Kelsey Farms, Whiteland, Indiana

2. THE CHEF

In order to have delicious food and a successful event, you must solidify an excellent chef who will create impressive restaurant-grade dishes.  Make sure that the chef is experienced enough to handle a large group dinner and that they can be creative with what they serve.  Additionally, having a friendly and poised serving staff is important.  An engaging and pleasant serving staff creates an enjoyable atmosphere for those in attendance.

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3. CHOOSE LOCAL!

While one of the wonderful things about our global food supply is year-long availability of a wide variety of foods, people will love local sourcing for a farm dinner.  Do your research and find farms that can supply fresh produce, meats, and dairy products.  Having mainly fresh ingredients adds to the nature of the meal.  If given the chance, make sure to let the guests know where the ingredients originated.  Craft brewing and local wineries are good places to look for beverages.  For difficult-to-source locally ingredients like coffee (not grown in the US), look for local roasters.  People like to know where their food comes from, and having the extra perk of the local ingredients will add to the appeal.

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4. VARIETY

Be sure to include multiple courses throughout the evening– having a variety will keep guests’s palates yearning for more!  By no means must you have 10 courses, but four to five courses is recommended.  For example, you can include courses such as appetizers, soup, salad, an artisanal bread tray with a compound butter, charcuterie (meat and cheese) tray, a double-meat option (main course), and a dessert bar.  It may sound like a lot, but your guests will enjoy having options within their meal.  Don’t forget, make sure to consider guests’ food requirements including allergies and religious observances.

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5. KEEP GUESTS MOVING THROUGHOUT THE FARM

A big part of the farm-to-table experience is touring the host farm.  Scatter special food stations around the property — enticing the guests with food will encourage travel while increasing interest.  Welcome guests with a variety of beverages, place appetizers near the animals, serve dinner in the middle of the field, and invite everyone to partake in ice cream sundaes while watching the sunset.  Make sure all areas are visible to the guests.

Dinner on the Farm Auction item for Gleanor's Food Bank Kelsey Farms, Whiteland, Indiana

6. WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

As you get closer to hosting the farm dinner event, it is important that your guests wear proper attire.  Since the dinner is held at the farm, there is no need to be super formal.  A good recommendation for your guests would be “farm fancy” but comfortable.  Warn about footing like gravel or grass as it may influence shoe choice.

7. COMFORT IS KEY

To ensure that your guests are comfortable throughout the event, it is important to provide them with the farm environment necessities.  Present a personalized “comfort kit” including bug repellent, hand sanitizer, tissues, sun screen, and much more.  Make sure you choose a sturdy, but stylish “comfort kit” box for the items.  Add additional items that will be helpful to your guests.

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8. THE FARM FAMILY

One of the most important components to hosting a farm dinner is making sure the guests are able to put a face to the family farm.  Ask the farmers if they’d be willing to say a few welcoming words at the dinner and/or give a tour to the group.  Being able to connect is important to people and having a specific face to the the farm name will make the experience that much more intimate.

Dinner on the Farm Auction item for Gleanor's Food Bank Kelsey Farms, Whiteland, Indiana

9. FARM TOUR

Enhance the experience of the farm-to-table dinner with a farm tour!  Send your guests on a tour around the farm so that they can see what happens there, and what foods are produced.  For instance, if it’s a dairy farm, showing the guests everything from the cows in the free stall barn to where the cows relax on their soft bedding and take advantage of the back scratchers to the milking parlor.  Touring the farm will not only be interesting to the guests, but they will be eager to ask questions and learn more.  Additionally, the tour can give people a greater appreciation for what farmers do day in and day out.

10. BUT THE FORECAST ONLY CALLED FOR A 10% CHANCE OF RAIN…

Always have a back-up plan.  If your hosting farm has a large, covered building, utilize the space if bad weather arrives. If there is no covered building, price out large tents in case a last minute call is needed.  Keeping your guests comfortable is key, and this will help you evade any weather issues.

As you work to plan your own farm dinner, remember these ten key points.  The evening will be a success and your guests will rave about their time at the farm.

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Congratulations, you’re ready to host the best farm dinner for your favorite guests!