Berry News

‘From Field to Fork’ dinner celebrates local food, farm workers

Source: VCSTAR.COM | July 24, 2017

“From Field to Fork” in Moorpark is unique among the farm dinners of Ventura County: Proceeds from tickets, on-the-spot donations and a raucous live auction benefit efforts to create safe, affordable housing for farm workers — and to grant scholarships for their college-bound children.

This year, the dinner also turned into a de facto birthday party for one of the scholarship winners.

It took place July 20 in The Walnut Grove at Tierra Rejada Ranch, the event’s (donated) location for the last six years. From Field to Fork is presented by the Santa Paula-based non-profit organization House Farm Workers!, which since 2004 has worked with community partners to spark development of more than 500 rental units.

The need continues: According to the House Farm Workers! website, Ventura County farm workers earn an average annual income of $22,000 each. The average cost of renting an apartment in the region is $20,000 per year.

Ventura County farms and ranches employ more than 35,000 men and women “who are critical to the county’s $2 billion a year agricultural industry,” the website adds.

This year’s recipients of scholarships named for House Farm Workers! treasurer and founding chairperson Ellen Brokaw were Hueneme High School grad Litzy Hernandez, whose father accepted on her behalf; Osvaldo Ambriz, who is bound for Cal Poly SLO, and Alma Monjaraz Tapia, who will start classes at CSU Fresno this fall with the goal of becoming a doctor. After announcing that it was Monjaraz Tapia’s final evening as a 17-year-old, Brokaw led the crowd in serenading her with “Happy birthday.”

The event started with wagon tours of the neighboring Underwood Family Farms, followed by a social hour that featured appetizers prepared by students from the Ventura High School Culinary Program under the direction of Kayla Hernandez.

Chilled zucchini coconut soup with Indian spices and avocado toast topped with carrots, braised radishes, tangerines, purslane and pickled daikon pods featured produce from Petty Ranch of Saticoy and The Abundant Table of Camarillo.

Attendees paired the appetizers with their choice of a 2016 rosé of mourvedre fromPlan B Wine Cellars of Ventura and / or two beers from Poseidon Brewing Co. of Ventura: Washed Ashore Watermelon Blonde Ale and Bubblehead Blood Orange Pale Ale, the latter made with citrus from King & King Ranch in Fillmore.

First course of the family-style dinner featured two salads prepared by Ulrika Glover ofHarvest Cafe in Ventura. Produce from the restaurant’s own Harvest Cafe “micro farm,” Coleman Family Farm of Carpinteria, Reiter Farms and King & King Ranch appeared in a kale salad with fresh berries and roasted almonds, and in a salad of green lettuces with grapefruit, avocado and Brazil-nut cheese.

The course was accompanied by bread served with olive oil from Buon Gusto Farms of Ventura and by Clos des Amis‘ 2016 Olivelands Vineyard chardonnay made with grapes grown in Santa Paula.

Second course included osso bucco with braised Swiss chard and Chinese broccoli, herb gremolata and cured citrus by chef John Paolone of Cafe Firenze in Moorpark.

It was accompanied by a summer succotash of cherry tomatoes, green beans, corn, thyme, squash, grilled onions, purslane and browned walnut butter by chef Tim Kilcoyne of Scratch food truck — and also of the future Scratch Sandwich Counter in Oxnard and Peirano’s Market in downtown Ventura. Kilcoyne also serves as culinary coordinator for the event, organizing the chefs and farmers responsible for the From Field to Fork menu each year.

The course was paired with Four Brix Winery‘s 2013 Scosso, a red blend made with grapes grown in Paso Robles. Produce came from McGrath Family Farm of Camarillo, Underwood Family Farms and The Abundant Table. Meat was provided by West Coast Prime Meats.

For dessert, pastry chef Julia San Bartolome of Sweet Arleen’s in Thousand Oaks prepared 34 “naked” candied-lemon-and-olive-oil cakes with mascarpone mousse and organic berries (produce provided by Reiter Farms and Underwood Family Farms) to go with French-press coffee from Beacon Coffee of Ventura and Ojai.

When it was discovered that an extra cake remained, the pastry was quickly put up for auction, with Elena Brokaw as auctioneer. It was purchased for $275 by Linda Parks, who presented it to Monjaraz Tapia as an early birthday present.