Sprout Growers & Makers Marketplace - Place-based Transformation

Region Five Development Commission

Funding Received: 2016
Little Falls, MN
Funding Period: 2 years and 11 months
October 24, 2017

‘Farm-to-table’ as a movement was brought to the forefront in the 1970s by Alice Waters, founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant, among others. Alice’s Restaurant (yes, yes I said it) was just across Shattuck in Berkeley, CA. I was her personal banker for two years and subsequently enjoyed several gratis meals during this time as a thank you.  As a result, I know a bit about farm-to-table and yet, I’ve not experienced anything like what Sprout had in store for those of us lucky enough to attend the Summer Harvest Dinner recently.

Back in the day when Alice started listing the names of farms on the menu, it was to remind people that food really did grow on farms, and to give credit to everyone who produced part of the meal. Right here in Central Minnesota, Arlene Jones has upped the ante on what farm-to-table means, most recently by hosting an inaugural gustatory soiree, sponsored by Region Five Development Commission and ArtPlace America.  The “dine with your farmer, wine with your friends” event brought 13 local farmers together with five expert chefs, and a host of locals anxious to put fork-to-plate. Five courses and five wine pairings later proved the evening to be both entertaining and educational as growers shared about the joys and challenges they experience in the process of small scale farming.

I mentioned to Arlene that I was familiar with farm-to-table, but had never experienced this ‘farmer-at-every-table’ type of experience.  It exceeded my expectations, and I imagine Alice Waters would be envious. Alice, and Chez Panisse, are convinced that the best tasting food is locally, seasonally and sustainably grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound by people who are taking care of the land for future generations.  It says so right on the menu.  The recent Summer Harvest event at Sprout gathered growers and friends over similar conversation about how Central Minnesota is striving to support a thriving local food economy and delicious food scene. They go right hand-in-hand, just like fork-to-plate, just like farm-to-table.



Mark Hendrickson
Special Projects Coordinator
Initiative Foundation