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Farm to Fork Benefit at UCSC—No Bananas, No Slugs—Just Really Awesome Organic Food

dg_pic_Diners at the second annual Farm to Fork benefit at the UCSC Farm can expect spectacular views of Monterey Bay, great organic food, fine wine and music by—who else?—a bunch of apprentice organic farmers!

The September 9 event will raise needed scholarship funds for the renowned Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture offered by UCSC’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems—and it will cooked by fabulous chefs, using some of the best of our local ingredients.


A number of the school’s talented apprentices and alums will deliver the night’s delectable dishes: A roasted poblano and sweet corn gazpacho shooter will be the first course, followed by a choice of salads made from vegetable and herbs grown at the UCSC Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden, as well as farms run by graduates of the apprenticeship program. Guests can expect to sample cheeses served with jams made from the farm’s fruit by Heidi Schlecht, a former apprentice who now runs Plumline Jams. Ecological Horticulture grad Erin Lampel’s will offer organic breads from her Companion Bakeshop of Santa Cruz.

Entrees will include chicken with padron peppers and honey from the UCSC farm’s apiary, and a vegetarian option of ratatouille-topped polenta created by Schlecht and fellow alum Amy Padilla, who runs Feel Good Foods Fine Organic Catering together with Schlecht. Bonny Doon and other local wineries will provide wines selected to accompany each course.

According to Martha Brown, outreach coordinator for the event, the first Farm to Fork dinner was conceived by one of last year’s apprentices.

Amid concerns about rising tuition costs, Matthew Raiford decided to take action. Brown says Raiford—who she calls “an absolute force of nature”—wanted to help out future apprentices. Although he moved back home to his family’s farm in Georgia and is now executive chef at Little St. Simons Island resort, Raiford agreed to come back for four years to lead the effort; after that, he plans to pass the baton to another apprentice or alum.

grape_planting_webThirty-nine apprentices from the class of 2012 and a few teaching assistants from last years’ class will be assisting the chefs in cooking and serving the dinner.

In addition to enjoying the apprentices’ “house band,” as Brown described it, guests can participate in a silent auction offering some singular experiences, including a guided tour of the Grateful Dead archive with Archivist Nicholas Meriwether and a mountain lion tracking session with Environmental Studies professor Chris Wilmers. A group of apprentices are also auctioning off their services for a home garden makeover.

UCSC_dinnerOne more highlight of the evening? A tour of the legendary location where the apprentices study—a gorgeous working farm with exceptional views of Monterey Bay.

The festivities start at 3:00 p.m., beginning with the farm tour. Dinner will follow at 4:00 p.m. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind event benefiting a terrific cause are $125.00 and may be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/262743.

We recommend you buy your tickets before they sell out!

About the author

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Elaine Hesser grew up in rural Pennsylvania and started cooking at age 6. By age 9, she'd made her first dinner and at midlife, is amazed when high school graduates can't scramble eggs. After the U.S. Army paid for her B.A., it also moved her to Monterey County, where she served on active duty at Ft. Ord and Ft. Hunter Liggett. She has a wide variety of interests, but is most passionate about faith, writing, and food - and encourages everyone never to stop learning and looking for truth.

1 thought on “Farm to Fork Benefit at UCSC—No Bananas, No Slugs—Just Really Awesome Organic Food”

  1. Just a note that the dinner was attended by 125 people, and raised over $22K for scholarships for future apprentices.

    The weather was spectacular: warm, clear, and with a plain view of Monterey across the bay. (Or “Hawaii,” as we’ve heard many tourists say.

    The food was impeccable. Heidi and Amy and “Chefarmer” Matthew Raiford were truly inspired by our local cornucopia, and I heard more than once the word “brilliant” thrown around, said about various bites.

    I have linked to the website for the UCSC Farm & Garden’s “Grow a Farmer” campaign and the community of apprentice alumni, should you wish to know more.

    Tana Butler
    Secretary, Board of Directors
    Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden

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