We welcomed 165 guests on a warm September evening to celebrate our history and faith, walk our fields, and feast on God’s bounty at our third annual farm-to-table dinner. In addition to helping to put fresh produce on the tables of dozens of neighborhood families who can’t afford healthy food options, guests were among the first to join us in celebrating our 150th anniversary.
This year’s self-guided tours were complemented by a colorful map specially designed so that guests could easily navigate the pathways and gardens on our grounds. Sister and staff volunteers were available to highlight various campus features, illuminate our Sisters’ heritage as farmers and caretakers of the environment, and describe how those traditions continue today.
Guests enjoyed sampling different craft beers, courtesy of Creekside Beer, and shopping for natural products like our honey, lotion and lip balm. Bluegrass music from local band, Well Strung, added to the down-home feel of the event.
Dr. Romaine Jesky-Smith, a volunteer, benefactor and friend of our Congregation, offered an anniversary toast for the Sisters. Sisters and guest alike joined together to sing happy birthday to Sister Mary Morgan and Sister Jane Stephen Rosko, who was surprised to learn that evening that family members from across the country would be attending the event as a special birthday surprise for her. Finally, Rob Mazur, representing the Mazur family and our presenting sponsor, offered grace.
Friend and partner Cura Hospitality generously donated, cooked and served all the flank steak, grilled chicken, ribs, and fresh and grilled vegetables that people could eat. In keeping with our farm-to-table promise, all food (except dessert) was sourced from local farmers and our own gardens. Bruster’s Ice Cream and Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea provided the finishing touch to an exceptional dinner.
After dinner, guests learned about our environmental mission and were introduced to Dave Slebodnik of River Town Food Alliance, the first organization to receive a grant from our Sr. St. Mark Fund. River Town Food Alliance serves Beaver County and supports local food producers through online media platforms, networking and collaborating to encourage and strengthen the local food system.
The grant funds will be used to establish a “Garden Resource Shed” at the Beaver Falls Community Garden to make gardening tools like shovels, weedwhackers and rototillers available on a rental basis to organizations, non-profits and individuals. Modeled after a similar program in Pittsburgh, River Town hopes that by limiting start-up costs, more people will be encouraged to start and maintain community gardens.
“Food systems and community gardens work in Beaver County is relatively new and resources have been relatively slim, so having the Sisters start the Sr. St. Mark Fund to better resource these projects is really a huge blessing to our entire region,” Dave says. “For River Town, that means we can build some basic infrastructure to start educating the community and continue getting input about our mission and vision.”
We are especially grateful to all of our sponsors, donors, guests and volunteers who helped make this year’s farm-to-table dinner a joy and a success. Mark your calendars as Faith.Field.Feast will return on Saturday, September 19, 2020!