Garden-To-Table Feasting

Photo cred: Marlee Maclean

I love supporting the farm-to-table movement. The importance of eating real, unadulterated food can’t be overstated, which is why I’m even more excited to tell you about my recent garden-to-table experience.

I’m getting ready to move into a new house and am so excited to finally have a place to do some vegetable gardening.

That said, I haven’t done any gardening since I was about 8 and used to help plant and pull carrots and snap peas from my childhood backyard. That was a long time ago. I need a refresher.

The idea of growing my own produce from scratch is appealing for lots of reasons. These days, we’re so far removed from our food. Most of us have never even seen how certain veggies look in the growing ground (including me!). We are completely accustomed to shopping our perfectly manicured grocery isles so it’s easy to forget how much time and work went into each and every plant that makes its way to our plates. We take food for granted. I’m actively trying not to do that and growing my own vegetable garden is part of reconnecting to not only my food, but also the magic of the earth itself.

But, I’m nervous I won’t be very good at it.

As happy coincidences happen, I got invited to a special vegetable garden planting party this summer as part of the Keepers of the Craft initiative in Toronto. You heard me right: a seed-planting party. How fun!

kim-deon-garden-to-table-name-stakes

Photo cred: Ilich Mejia

This planting party took place in the backyard of Franco Stalteri. You may have heard of him as the man behind one of the most famous “word-of-mouth” supper clubs on the planet: Charlie’s Burgers. If you’re interested, you can google him. He’s a pretty big deal 😉

Photo cred: Ilich Mejia

Photo cred: Ilich Mejia

So, there I was, in his backyard planting seeds with some of Toronto’s most notable chefs and foodies. I thought there was going to be some complicated framework by which we’d have to abide: plant this here, not there, only those seeds can go near these seeds…that sort of thing. But, the plan was much more plain than all that.

We, literally, started off with one big grid of earth, some gardening gloves and a few packets of seeds and some seedlings. Our instructions were simply to dig a little hole with our fingers, plant a seed and repeat. Plus, we got to enjoy some chef-crafted nibbles and a bit of beer. Yes, as a nutritionist, I drink beer sometimes.

We were told that everything we planted that night would be harvested a few months late for an epic garden-to-table feast put on by some of Toronto’s most notable chefs.

Photo cred: Ilich Mejia

Photo cred: Ilich Mejia

I wondered how much of what we planted would actually grow. It all seemed too easy.

But, low and behold, after a few months of sunshine and some good ol’ H2O – this is what developed!

Photo cred: Marlee Maclean

Photo cred: Marlee Maclean

This jungle garden gets me seriously excited for my own epic veggie-planting adventures.

Our harvest dinner happened just a few nights ago at a great little spot on Queen Street West called the Tempered Room. Fellow Keepers of the Craft took over the daytime patisserie and it was turned into a huge communal dinner table, which completely took over the spot. Our fall feast stretched over hours into the night as we were treated to an epic 7-course meal courtesy of the talented chefs from La Carnita in Toronto.

Photo cred: Chuck Ortiz

Photo cred: Chuck Ortiz

Before each course, the chefs addressed the gang of happy gastronomers highlighting each of the veggies collected from our communally planted garden, which was reverentially featured in their dish.

It was a stunning display of craftsmanship and a true love of natural food. Not only did the food we planted taste better, it also instilled a sense of pride and accomplishment (even though I wasn’t doing the cooking this time!)

Look at these beet-cicles! Amazing!

Photo cred: Chuck Ortiz

Photo cred: Chuck Ortiz

I am now even more excited to start my backyard crops and look forward to sharing the journey with you.

If you’ve got a green thumb, I’d really appreciate any gardening tips you want to offer up. And, if you’re new to veggie gardening yourself, I’d love to hear how things are shaping up for you when you’re ready to get down and dirty 😉

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