Ithaca Garden Club, Healthy Food For All Throw ‘Farm-to-Fork’ Fundraiser

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Tompkins Weekly     10-3-16

By Susie Backstrom

On a crystal clear autumn day, the Ithaca Garden Club joined with Healthy Food For All to throw a “Farm to Fork” fundraiser at Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg.

The event, which took place on Tuesday, September 27, included a five-course harvest dinner on the farm. The dinner featured fresh produce, dairy products and meat donated by local farms and prepared by the chefs of Word of Mouth Catering of Trumansburg; each course was paired with wine donated by Hazlitt 1852 Winery in Hector.

hffa-dinner-silver-queen-farm-2016-2Healthy Food For All partners with local organizations, farms, food producers, chefs and purveyors of libations to create “farm-to-fork” dinners that raise money to support its program of providing access to fresh, local produce to low-income households.

More than 40 table centerpieces, other floral arrangements and wreaths – created especially for the event by Ithaca Garden Club members using local flowers, produce and greenery – were available for sale and by silent auction throughout the evening. Two CSA shares, donated by Full Plate Farm Collective and Sweet Land Farm, raised funds through a silent auction and raffle. Handmade jams, jellies, crackers and other treats and crafts made for the event by Club members were sold at a special farm stand inside the event venue.

More than $3,000 was raised for the program through the sale and auction of the centerpieces, floral arrangements, wreaths, CSA shares and farm stand items. Proceeds from the ticket sales also were donated to HFFA.

A total of 152 guests paid to attend the dinner, and were joined by 29 HFFA farmers and neighboring producers who donated food for the meal. Diners ate beneath twinkling lights and paper lanterns in the cavernous barn interior that served as the dining room. Volunteers for HFFA staffed the event.

The proceeds of the event will allow Healthy Food For All to make fresh, quality produce accessible to low-income households in Tompkins County.

Since 2008, HFFA has been organizing harvest dinners on farms, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the program. Each event is unique with a different chef, menu and winery, but they all share one thing in common – they provide guests with memorable culinary experience and an enjoyable way to dine out to support a great cause.

HFFA, a non-profit program of Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County, helps provide access to produce from local community-supported agriculture memberships to more than 100 low-income households each year.

“This event with the Ithaca Garden Club has been a fundraiser that stands out from the rest with breathtaking floral arrangements and a room filled with people with big hearts who share HFFA’s mission to support families and farms in our community,” said Liz Karabinakis, director of Healthy Food For All. “I didn’t think it was possible to admire anyone as much as HFFA’s farmers, who work tirelessly to tend to the health of their neighbors and land, but the women in the Ithaca Garden Club are equally talented and driven. Our partnership is a shining example of how much more we can achieve by working together.”

The Ithaca Garden Club was founded in 1922. Since then, the Club has raised and gifted several hundred thousand dollars for garden-related projects benefiting the Ithaca community, including gardens at Cayuga Medical Center, Hospicare, ScienCenter, Cayuga Heights Fire Station, Paleontological Research Institute, Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, the City of Ithaca, the Waterfront Trail, Ithaca Children’s Garden, Alex Haley pool, Stewart Park and the Hangar Theatre. The Club presently has over 130 members and is one of the oldest and largest garden clubs in New York State. For more information, contact Susan Backstrom at (607) 592-2762 or visit its website at

“We thought outside the box for this event,” said Karen Governanti and Nancy DiCicco, event organizers and the Ithaca Garden Club’s Ways & Means co-chairpersons, in a joint statement. “This is an exciting and unique way to connect families in need in our community and local farmers. One of the Ithaca Garden Club’s goals is to educate and to arouse public interest in conserving and enhancing the resources of our community.

“Our farmers and local agriculture are important resources,” they said. “We are delighted and proud to be a group of women helping other women in our community.”

For more information about Healthy Food For All, contact Karabinakis at (607) 272-2292 or visit its website at

Susie Backstrom is a member of the Ithaca Garden Club.

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