I have had some crazy ideas in my time, but this is one of my best. After splurging on an Outstanding in the Field dinner two summers ago, and the food movement’s recent emphasis on local sourcing, I thought I could easily prepare a farm to table dinner: all local and organic — no problem.
Several months ago, I recruited my best friend Lisa, her family and my unsuspecting family create a simple 12-course dinner. Since both Lisa and I are artists, we immediately thought this dinner would be the perfect venue for outdoor art. As inspiration, we looked to Andy Goldsworthy and Tony Plant. We surveyed both of our yards for material to use and have begun making not only art, but a table, tableware, votive candles, and even videos to be shown on the side of the house. We have plenty of time and my whole back yard, so we put no limits on our imagination.
Alyssa reminded me that we actually need to eat something at this dinner, so we started taking inventory of our garden and the potential food it offers. To our surprise, we found plenty of herbs and berries. And, to increase the variety we planted lots of delicious vegetables in our vegetable garden this season. But lacking in protein, we quickly realized that relying only on our garden we would be eating a lot of kale and parsley. So, we have looked to our friends and community to help us out.
So far, a friend who lives by Meadowdale High School has supplied us with honey gathered from backyard hives – Adam’s and Jeff’s Bees – (and we would be glad to steer you their way if interested!) We also spent a quiet afternoon boiling the heck out of a ton of water and made beautiful white sea salt. Protein is still a problem, so we have been eyeing our neighbor’s chickens and are researching harvesting clams or mussels.
More recently we discovered that nectar was low this spring and so not much honey was made. Slugs ate most of the garden so we had to replant– organic farming is hard! I thought we could dig clams, but all local beaches were closed last time I checked. However, we have also discovered great local sources for eggs and chickens. Keep your eyes open for more updates and hope we don’t go hungry while looking at great art!
Alyssa started a blog to record our progress and find others interested in sharing ideas. You can find our blog at gardenfarmer.tumblr.com for our culinary and artistic progress. We would love to hear from you and share your local sourcing ideas, menu suggestion, art inspirations or any other ideas!
— By Mona Fairbanks
Mona Fairbanks is a wife, mother to two wonderful daughters and an artist. She has been teaching elementary school art in Edmonds and Shoreline for the last 15 years and exhibiting her art for the last two year at the Hanson/Scott Gallery in Seattle. She is passionate about local flora and fauna and preserving the environment.
Alyssa Fairbanks recently graduated from Whitman College with a degree in history. She hopes to pursue graduate studies in law and ultimately work promoting civil and women’s rights. In the meantime, she loves to read, cook, hike and hang out with her sister.
Lea Fairbanks is a junior at the University of Portland in Oregon majoring in psychology. She is working this summer as a barista for a local coffee catering company and loving it. Last year she spent the year going to school in Austria and traveling as much as time and money would allow.