BONNERS FERRY — Come celebrate the bounty of Boundary County at the fourth annual Farm to Table Local Feast & Fundraiser, from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at BeeHaven Flower Farm, 2431 Moonshadow Road in Bonners Ferry.
Featuring organic food from the GROW! Community Garden, the feast will also incorporate fresh and local foods from farms in Boundary County and beverages provided by the Kootenai River Brewing Company. Acoustic guitar music will be provided by Ralph Walker. The event will also feature raffles and a silent auction.
“This popular event has sold out every year,” says Kate Painter, Agricultural Extension educator for University of Idaho Extension in Boundary County. “The community has been incredibly supportive.”
There were still about 20 tickets left as of Tuesday morning. Tickets need to be purchased in advance, and they can be found at Bonners’ Books, the UI Extension Office, and online at http://www.tinyurl.com/2019FTT.
The 2019 dinner features a summer picnic theme, starting with a beautiful assortment of raw vegetables, pickles, fresh dips, and crackers. A corn chowder soup will be served, as well fresh baby greens with homemade cheese. We will also have a caprese salad, a cold pesto pasta salad, homemade rolls, smoked pulled pork, and roasted vegetables. In addition to the wonderful food, each attendee receives two free tickets for beer and wine.
Desserts includes several selections made from locally grown fruit as well as a rich gluten free chocolate cake. Debbie Woods from Cowcreek Blueberry Farm will be providing Blueberry Crumble Bars and Kari Apo from Old Schoolhouse Farm will be making a fruit dessert. Recipes will be provided for several of the featured dishes.
Flowers for the event will be provided both by Julie Newcomb, Cloud Eleven Mountain Farm in Moyie Springs, and by Paula Rice, owner of BeeHaven Flower Farm. A large number of generous community members contribute both to the dinner and the Silent Auction, including many of the Bonners Ferry Farmers Market vendors. A complete list of supporters will be posted on our website (growboundarycounty.org) and on our Facebook page, GROW Boundary County.
“It is amazing how we are increasingly able to provide a diverse array of high quality local food for those who live here,” said Painter. “We will have a short program on this topic, featuring local producers who will talk about what they are currently growing on their farms.”
Speakers at the event include our local host, Paula Rice, owner of BeeHaven Flower Farm; Jordan Dyck, from Homestead Produce; Julie and Edward Newcomb, from Cloud Eleven Mountain Farm; and Sally Houy, from Black Mountain Farm. Casimir Holeski, owner of Infinity Matrix Tree Crops, will give an update on his projects, including the Boundary County Orchard Restoration Project and Bonners Ferry first food forest project located on the grounds of Boundary Community Hospital.
“We will also discuss what we’ve done at the GROW! garden this year, such as the Little Free Gardens project, with 22 raised bed planters distributed around the county,” said Painter.
GROW! partnered with the City of Bonners Ferry, Blue Cross of Idaho, University of Idaho Extension, and area businesses to create little gardens that grow free produce for the community. Bonners Ferry is the first location in Idaho to join this national project (see www.littlefreegarden.com).
In each of the last two years, the GROW! Community Garden has also donated approximately 2500 lb of free organic produce to the food bank and other community organizations, including the weekly community free lunch hosted by the United Methodist Church.
“The best part of the Farm to Table dinner is the energy and enthusiasm of the community members and growers who attend. It is so important to encourage everyone to support our local growers and businesses in order to insure that our community remain self-sufficient, vibrant, and independent and I think this event highlights what we can do when we all work together as a community,” Painter said.
“We feed approximately 100 people, including our wait staff, which consists of the Bonners Ferry FFA and Robotics club students plus volunteers from GROW! and the UI Extension Master Gardener program,” she added.
GROW! was started ten years ago with the support from community members who recognized the value of gardening not only as a source of food but as a tool for social connection and health within the community. Jen Jensen, the UI Agricultural Extension Educator who preceded Painter, was part of the original group of individuals who started the GROW! Community Garden in its current location.
GROW! has always involved a large contingent of UI Extension Master Gardeners, who also maintain permanent plots in the garden. Tony Klinkhammer, a 2017 graduate of the UI Extension Master Gardener program, donated mushroom spawn to create a bed of King Straphoria mushrooms, also known as Garden Giants. Each year, he teaches a class on how to grow these edible mushrooms in your garden.
In addition to the Farm to Table Dinner, GROW! holds various events throughout the year. These include a spring raffle, which raises money for spring garden expenses, including purchasing organic compost, seeds and plants. GROW! has a booth and sells produce from the community garden several times over the summer at the Bonners Ferry Farmers Market. In addition, they have a Children’s Garden that is maintained by GROW! members. A local preschool has been visiting the plot over the course of the growing season.
The first Farm to Table Dinner took place in the fall of 2016. This event was the brainchild of Deb Foster, a GROW! organization member, who wanted to have a Farm to Table dinner rather than their usual fall raffle. Funds raised from this event support the local community garden, including utilities such as water, portable toilet rental, seeds and plant starts, and wages for a part-time garden manager.
The GROW! Community Garden is located on Buchanan Street on ground owned by Trinity Lutheran Church, which has generously provided this space to the community for ten years. The public can rent tall raised beds for their own use. There is also a Little Free Garden featuring herbs at the GROW! Community Garden that is maintained by UI Extension Master Gardeners.
GROW! is always looking for new folks who are interested in joining their organization, which includes a number of UI Extension Master Gardeners. Anyone who is interested is encouraged to attend their weekly meetings, which take place on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at the UI Extension Office.
For more information on the GROW! organization and their projects as well as gardening questions in general, contact Kate Painter at the UI Extension Office, 208-267-3235. Find out more about GROW! on their website, www. growboundarycounty.org, or on their Facebook page, GROW Boundary County.