Imagine eating a meal prepared with ingredients that were grown and harvested by local farmers, prepared and served by local high school students at tables craftily designed with centerpieces including fresh flowers which were grown, harvested and arranged locally. The Farm to Fork event hosted by the Benton Partnership has generated such success in the previous two years that its third annual event on Sept. 21 was nearly sold out three weeks ahead of time.
Ann Riley, event coordinator with the Benton Partnership, said the event was created as a way to provide recognition for the local farmers and show appreciation for the food on our tables. She said this year's theme is, 'If you have eaten today, thank a farmer.'
"Kids think milk is generated in the grocery store. There are kids out there who don't realize chickens have bones because they've only been fed chicken nuggets or boneless strips--so they sure don't realize there's a farmer who raised that chicken for them to eat," she explained. "We're looking at ways to take the educational portion of this event into the schools and that's in the works. But this event specifically is to thank our farmers who are often overlooked."
Riley said farm equipment will be lined up in the court square for viewing from about 5 p.m. until 6 p.m., when dinner is served in the First Baptist Church activities building. Marshall County High School's culinary class will prepare the meal made with a variety of food items donated by local farmers. Students with MCHS's Future Farmers of America (FFA) will assist with the event as well.
The donations for this year's meal includes a whole hog and additional pork, chicken, beef, fish, potatoes, carrots, onions, squash, peas and hush puppies, among other items, Riley said. Desserts will be cobblers made with the strawberries, blueberries and blackberries as well as honey.
The Master Gardeners take on the centerpieces for the tables, Riley said, noting all summer long they tend to fresh flowers in their gardens to then harvest and arrange them for this event.
Also as part of the event, Riley said scholarships will be awarded to one culinary student and one FFA student. The organization will also name and recognize a farmer of the year, young farmer of the year and agribusiness of the year.
Tickets, while they're available, may be purchased at Benton City Hall, Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau or by calling Riley at 270-703-0304.