Batavia comes together for first Farm-to-Table dinner
It started in the spring with a photo shared on the Facebook page of Batavia Alderman Marty Callahan.
On Sunday, it culminated in a block-long dinner table for 150 people in the city's downtown for the first "Farm-to-Table" Batavia Community Dinner.
"It blew up. Everybody liked it. Everybody viscerally got it," Callahan said. "What better way to highlight our local farmers? We have a strong farmers market and we wanted to highlight that, too."
The dinner was inspired by a photo shared on Callahan's page that he also shared on a Batavia Community website. Volunteers said the 150 spaces for dinner, at $45 a ticket, sold out within a week.
Ellen Posledni, one of the organizers, recalled seeing the photo of a large, community dinner on a closed street.
"It was like 'We totally should do that,'" she said. "We just all really came together. It really was two-pronged. That was key. Have a meal where neighbors can come and break bread with each other and to promote locally sourced food. We tried to keep it as simple as possible. Everybody understood the vision and really latched onto it. Batavia is such a unique place."
The menu included salads, cornbread, roasted pork, corn on the cob, summer squash and blueberry cobbler. Ingredients came from the farms of Mighty Greens, Windy Acres, Rustic Road Farm and Hazzard Free Farm, and were prepared by local restaurants River's Edge and Pal Joey's.
For Batavia couple Ryan and Elise Wagner, the dinner provided a window for a date following the birth of their daughter, Sienna, four months ago, as well as a chance to connect with neighbors.
"That's kind of the appeal of it. We get to see people from Batavia who are like-minded," Elise Wagner said.
Matt and Stina Castellani of Batavia grabbed seats at the south end of the table near the large River Street sign that welcomes visitors to the brick paver road.
"It's a cool and unique idea, especially for this street," Stina Castellani said, adding the dinner is a good way to connect with Batavians who are environmentally conscious and want to support local farms. "I think everybody here is definitely for that type of movement."
Mayor Jeff Schielke briefly addressed the gathering, praising organizers and thanking attendees for valuing local farms and honoring the city's agricultural roots.
"I hope we've started a new tradition in this town," Schielke said. "Hopefully we've started something good for our town for days and years ahead."