Fresh produce serving as centerpieces, tiki torches circling the dining area, tables set up amidst the orchard … everything about Saturday evening’s Farm to Fork dinner was rustic and down to earth.
Right down to the grilled zucchini and fresh peaches with homemade tarragon marshmallow sauce.
Hosted in the orchard adjacent to Grandpa’s Barn, a local venue along Enterprise Road, the event was put on by Lorina Cajias of Lorina’s Edible Garden in conjunction with the Escalon Chamber of Commerce. It was designed as a fundraiser for the Chamber, with proceeds benefiting business scholarships.
Diners enjoyed mingling over appetizers, including freshly sliced heirloom tomatoes drizzled in locally bottled olive oil, sliced bread for dipping and herb butter featuring herbs from Lorina’s Edible Garden was also utilized on farm fresh corn on the cob. For dinner, there was also freshly grilled tri tip and chicken from Oakdale-based BBQ in a Barrel, baked potatoes, grilled squash and a selection of wine and beer.
Each table had a variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables as the centerpiece and Cajias said everyone had to take some home, to enjoy after the festive evening was over.
“It’s our way of saying thanks, no one goes home without some,” she said.
Multiple donations came in from producers ranging from Fisher Farms to Terpstra farms, Bava Olive Oil, bread from Rosa’s Bakery in Escalon and more, with Cajias recruiting a small army of family and friends to cook and serve the meal, as well as provide entertainment during the evening.
Taking the microphone to address the crowd just before inviting them to fill their plate for dinner, Cajias said she was excited with the turnout because she didn’t know what to expect when she got the idea for the ‘Farm to Fork’ locally grown event.
“My heart belongs to Escalon,” Cajias said, to a round of applause from the diners. “I was raised here since second grade, we have big history in Escalon, my dad farmed here.”
Cajias said she also supports the work of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, with promoting local businesses key in helping them succeed.
She currently serves as vice president and said Chamber president Pat Brown, along with helping out at the dinner on Saturday, was both a mentor for her – and was her seventh grade history teacher.
“I believe in what we’re doing,” Cajias said of the Chamber’s mission, and again thanked those supporting the dinner.
A few vendor booths were also set up around the dining area, and the ‘centerpiece’ in the orchard was a 1965 Massey-Ferguson tractor owned by Don Angle, Cajias’s father.
“It built the farm,” Cajias said. “We’re celebrating the tractor as it’s being retired tonight.”
Dave Cajias, who spent some time at the grill getting the zucchini ready, said he also was pleased with the event.
“It’s cool, I like it,” he said of the outdoor venue and farm to fork idea. “My wife did a great job in putting it together.”