Football season is in the air.
So is harvest season at Elawa Farm in Lake Forest.
The latter kicks off in early September—that time of year, after a long, hot summer, when the farm’s organic herb and vegetable gardens are at their ripe, succulent best. It’s also the season for Elawa Farm’s annual Harvest Dinner, a farm-to-table feast served al fresco, next to the property’s picturesque gardens. The dinner’s seasonally inspired meal incorporates organically grown vegetables directly harvested from Elawa Farm.
“It’s a peaceful, yet exciting, event, where the community gathers and shares the bounty of the garden,” Elawa Farm Executive Director Joanne Miller said. “And, unlike a typical hotel fundraiser, it’s set against the beautiful backdrop of Elawa Farm.”
Elawa’s 2018 Harvest Dinner, set to take place, rain or shine, on September 8, will feature dishes prepared by The Goat Group, the catering arm of the top-rated West Loop restaurant, Girl & the Goat, owned by celebrity chef Stephanie Izard.
“We’re thrilled to have Girl & the Goat catering this year,” said Harvest Dinner Chair Ambler Harrison, who serves on the farm’s volunteer board of directors. “Every course will be covered in fresh vegetables.”
The dinner’s menu will include an appetizer featuring Elawa Farm tomatoes; a kohlrabi salad mixed with almonds, blueberries and topped with a gingermaple dressing; chickpea fritters; and roasted cauliflower.
Featuring a pre-dinner cocktail hour, as well as dessert, coffee and live music in Elawa Farm’s historic hay barn, organizers hope a combination of ticket sales and paddle-raise donations will net between $50,000 and $75,000 to support the nonprofit’s ongoing work. An estimated 200 people are expected to attend the evening event.
“The annual Harvest Dinner raises funds needed to continue maintaining Elawa Farm’s historic buildings and surrounding gardens,” Miller said.
Elawa Farm’s 16-acre parcel of land was once home to a gentleman’s farm built in 1917 for A. Watson Armour, a member of the prominent Chicago meatpacking family. Designed by David Adler and Alfred Hopkins, the land and buildings comprising Elawa’s main farm group were purchased by the City of Lake Forest in 1998, to be preserved and maintained through a unique public-private partnership.
More than two acres of Elawa Farm’s land is cultivated each year for flowers, herbs and vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes, lettuces, carrots, beets and squash. Planted each year by a team of interns, volunteers and staff, the gardens utilize sustainable farming methods like field rotation, cover cropping, beneficial predation and organic composting.
Freshly harvested produce, flowers, house-made salads, soups and baked goods are sold at Elawa Farm’s weekly Garden Market, open Friday and Saturday mornings from mid-May to mid-October.
“Elawa Farm’s gardens feed our mission of teaching by example,” Miller said. “By selling our produce, we educate the community about what an organic vegetable actually looks like. We don’t offer perfection because in nature, there’s no perfect tomato or cucumber.”
Elawa Farm’s year-round educational and special events include beer tastings, floral arranging, yoga and cooking classes. The farm’s air-conditioned, heated buildings are also available to rent for parties, weddings and corporate events.
Harvest Dinner ticket sales have been brisk. Attendees, said Miller, are typically a mix of newcomers and Elawa Farm “true blue” supporters.
“We’re anticipating a sellout,” said Miller.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.elawafarm.org