By Francesca Sacco
Amidst the lengthy list of food trends and fad diets, the farm-to-table movement continues to gain traction across the United States, and the fascination with fresh, locally produced or grown food doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
In fact, its popularity has sky-rocketed since the early 2000s as more people began embracing a nutritional shift that promotes fresher and better-tasting food. While there’s no definitive definition of farm-to-table (farm to fork is another way to refer to the movement), its focus is simple: eating food made from locally-sourced ingredients that are natural or organic.
While farmers markets seem to be the most obvious reflection of the trend, restaurants have also adopted the movement, offering menus built from local food producers. The Marketplace at Emerald Valley in downtown Washington is the perfect example. Their menu incorporates locally sourced meats, their own cheeses and produce and fruit from their local farmers market, which happens to occur once a week, right next door.
“Our whole menu is completely farm-to-table,” Alisa Fasnacht, owner of The Marketplace and Emerald Valley Artisans, said. “From the bread we use, to the pickles to the meats and cheeses and greens. Everything is locally sourced.”
So it should come as no surprise that they are the sole food provider at the fourth annual Observer-Reporter’s Farm to Fork Greene County event. Designed to highlight the very best of Greene County and the region, Farm to Fork Greene County takes place on the beautiful grounds of Thistlethwaite Vineyards in Jefferson. The rolling hills and cozy wine tasting area provide the perfect backdrop to highlight the sustainable lifestyle that the event celebrates.
Past events offered food samples from local and regional restaurants, but not a true farm to table experience.
“Your food shouldn’t travel further than you do. The Marketplace is taking over the winery. We’re bringing our menu, and the food is on point for where we are in the season,” Fasnacht said. “There are very few opportunities to have food this local or hearth-spun. It really matches the event.”
Jamie Thistlethwaite, Thistlewaite Vineyards’ winemaker, said this year’s event provides a more “authentic experience.”
“The emphasis is on our grapes and wines and Fasnacht’s food and cheese,” he said. “Basically, this is all about our local Western Pennsylvania agriculture.”
The menu includes sandwiches like the Farmhouse Trio, a grilled cheese made with a signature blend of the three Emerald Valley Artisans cheeses, minestrone soup by Heritage Craft Butchers and antipasto boards. Everything will be made-to-order on the premises. Food prices range from $4 for a cup of soup, $10.50 for sandwiches and $15 per antipasto boards.
Entrance to this year’s event is free.
“We made the decision to not charge an entry fee this year so that the entire community can attend and feel welcome,” Carole DeAngelo, advertising director at the Observer-Reporter, said. “This event is truly unique to Greene County, and we want to encourage people from neighboring communities to visit, and experience the beautiful landscape, the local businesses and the delicious food.”
Attendees can enjoy live entertainment by Timm Reeves Acoustics and Joe Materkowski, browse local vendors and enjoy sweets by 5 Kidz Kandy in Waynesburg. Wine will be available for purchase by the glass or bottle. Two VIP sessions are also available at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Enjoy a private wine tasting and grazing antipasto experience while meeting Thistlethwaite and enjoying a private tour of the winemaking facility. Fasnacht will be on hand to discuss the farm to fork lifestyle.
“If you are the type of person that enjoys connections and the farm to fork experience, this is where you’ll want to be,” Fasnacht said.
A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Corner Cupboard Food Bank in Waynesburg. Farm to Fork Greene County take places Saturday, Sept. 14 from 4 to 9 p.m. VIP tickets are $50 and can be purchased online or at the event. Attendees are asked to preregister. For more information, to preregister or to purchase VIP tickets, visit farmtoforkevent.com.