Community gathered for harvest dinner

 

Last updated 9/12/2023 at 10:43am

Photo by Emily Green

The community gathered to eat, drink, and celebrate Seed to Table's 10th Anniversary on the farm. Pictured here, folks applauded founder and Executive Director Audrey Tehan.

Farmers and founders, longtime friends and new acquaintances, all gathered together Saturday to celebrate Seed to Table's 10th Anniversary at the Fall Harvest Dinner.

Clear skies and mellow weather created a welcoming atmosphere, along with the strings of lights above and flowers laid out on long tables. Live music hit a soothing note from the stage.

"The farm tour was great!" said one participant. "It wasn't hot at all."

Farm tours gave guests a glimpse into the nitty-gritty behind farming and farm-based education. Encompassing greenhouses and hoop houses, fields, and washing stations, Seed to Table's farm spans four acres.

Fine weather continued into the evening as folks nibbled local delicacies from Feast Food Company based in Redmond. Locally ranched lamb was featured, along with vegetables grown by Seed To Table.

The dinner took place in a pleasant meadow on the farm. This year, the annual harvest meal marked a unique occasion: Seed to Table's 10th anniversary. In 2013, former Sisters High School student Audrey Tehan was invited to develop a farm education program at her alma mater in collaboration with Sisters Science Club.

The program evolved into today's nonprofit organization, which spans three programming areas: providing farm-based education, growing and distributing fresh produce for people of various income levels, and managing Sisters Farmers Market.

Tehan gave a moving speech (see related article, page 20). Seed to Table's programs director Hannah Joseph presented Tehan with a special gift: a framed photomontage featuring ten years of pictures. Joseph offered up words of appreciation on behalf of herself, the staff, and director of operations Helen Vaskevitch, who could not be present.

In particular, Joseph thanked Tehan for creating an environment where people learn to laugh as they overcome obstacles. She ended with a toast: "Here's to another 10 years of Seed to Table!"

Members of the audience clapped and hollered in appreciation. Some were visibly moved to tears.

In its decade-long history, Seed to Table has affected many lives. As Tehan reported from the stage, the farm is currently producing 85,000 pounds of produce per year.

Farm-based education lies at the heart of Seed to Table. The organization provides local children and youth with hands-on education at the farm along with programs on-site in schools, such as the Sisters High School greenhouse programs. In a given year, 1,500 to 1,750 student visits typically take place.

Some of these students may go on to start their own gardens or inspire their families to grow their own food at home. Some have become volunteers at the Farmers Market. Currently, one student has returned to Seed to Table, now working professionally as a farmer.

The bounty of fresh food she helps grow at the farm is distributed to a wide range of residents, some facing barriers to food access. A community supported agriculture (CSA) produce share enables folks to pick out their preferred vegetables every week on the farm in season.

"Seed to Table touches so many lives, whether through education, feeding families, seeing your friends and neighbors at the Farmers Market," said longtime volunteer Fran Willis, who is now vice chair of the Board of Directors. "It's woven into the fabric of this community in ways that many people don't realize."

Through partnerships with groups including Kiwanis and NeighborImpact, the farm provides fresh produce to food banks and pantries. Sisters Farmers Market, which Seed to Table has led and managed for the last four seasons, offers a point of access for fresh food and a community gathering place.

For some kids, a trip to Seed to Table might be their first exposure to fresh food, grown nearby using sustainable and organic methods. Fresh vegetables taste bright and delicious-as evidenced by the salads guests enjoyed in their harvest dinners.

As sunlight faded, diners sank forks into slices of cake. Gathering up sweaters and jackets, ready to head home, they talked about how nice it was to meet new people and run into old friends.

"They do so much here, I had no idea," commented a Tumalo resident. "We're lucky to have all this so close."

"The organization has only come this far with immense community support and dedicated staff," said Tehan.

She thanked staff, volunteers, board members, donors, consultants, partners, and participants. Lead sponsor Metabolic Maintenance got a big shoutout and applause for their long-term support.

The farmers who work the land at Seed to Table bring "knowledge and connections that have become a touchstone, nurturing both the land and the community," she said.

 

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