On Sunday night State Road Restaurant hosted a fundraising dinner for Island Grown Schools, a program within the Island Grown Initiative. The prix fixe event featuring wines and local food sold out.
While mingling over their choice of Pinot noir or chardonnay, courtesy of Ruby Wines, guests heard from students directly involved with school gardens. Third graders at the West Tisbury School, Rosie Herman and Violet Cabot, read a poem — an ode to their school garden — highlighting why it’s important to them. Edgartown second graders Matthew Fish and Malik Magnuson, who have been working in their school garden since kindergarten, talked about growing corn, strawberries, carrots, salad greens, squash, and the 170 pounds of potatoes they recently harvested. When asked about their favorite thing to eat from the garden, Malik and Matthew talked about “garden candy,” also known as gooseberries (little tomatillo-like fruit encased in a papery husk) and “garden sour patch kids,” better known as wild sorrel.
After the testimonials, diners were treated to seasonal Island cuisine in several courses. Starting with Morning Glory Farm mixed greens and North Tabor Farm fried shiitakes, diners feasted on dishes such as Vineyard water littlenecks with fennel, Cleveland Farm pig’s head roulade, Morning Glory Farm potato gnocchi, Edgartown bay scallops with brown butter and squash puree, and Good Farm roasted chicken. Dinner ended on a sweet note with pumpkin brittle, carrot cake, and pumpkin pie. State Road, the Cleveland Farm, Morning Glory Farm, North Tabor Farm, Rickard’s Bakery, and the Good Farm donated all of the food.
Fan Ogilvie, of West Tisbury, attended the fundraiser in support of Island Grown School’s mission to teach children about agriculture and how to grow their own food. “What IGS is doing will define what the Island means to children for generations to come. The cause is irresistible. We are creating a cuisine to be proud of.”
Mary Kenworth, co-owner of State Road, thanked everyone for their support and reminded guests that everything they ate was “farmed, raised, slaughtered, or caught on the Vineyard.” She also turned people’s attention to the back of their menu where three important people in today’s local food movement left a message.
Michael Pollan, an author and professor who focuses on food (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “The Botany of Desire”) wrote to the group: “Vineyard Friends: I wish I could be there with you for this wonderful event. The local food movement on the island is one of the most vibrant I know about, and I congratulate you all on the amazing work you’re doing to bring good, clean and fair food into the schools.”
Alice Waters, chef and owner of Chez Panisse, a restaurant in California known for using organic, locally-grown ingredients, wrote she is “Thrilled to know of the positive steps that the Island’s community is taking toward a sustainable future for their children.” And Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods, called Island Grown Schools “One of the first, and still one of the best, farm-to-school programs in the country.”
Ali Berlow, founder and executive director of the Island Grown Initiative, shared her hope that, “Someday school gardens and local food in the cafeterias will be as important as chalkboards, teachers, and the PTO, all for a healthy and vibrant Martha’s Vineyard.”
The fundraiser brought in more than $8,000 in ticket sales, money that IGS is very thankful for as they are “working on a shoestring,” according to Noli Taylor, director. Combined with donations, the total amount raised was $9,200. The money will go to support school coordinators, buy new garden supplies, fund field trips, and facilitate in-class and garden activities.
Ms. Taylor was especially grateful for the opportunity to show the community some of IGS’s efforts.
“Our program is really about our kids, the next generation of farmers and eaters. It was so great to see Violet, Rosie, Malik, and Matthew give a face to our mission. And to show how much the kids are already learning with IGS.”
Erin Haggerty, who lives in Aquinnah, is the Oak Bluffs School coordinator for IGS, and a yoga instructor.