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Serving Farm-Fresh Meals -- at the Farm

A table set for an "Outstanding in the Field" meal
A table set for an "Outstanding in the Field" meal

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English.

"Farm to table" is the name of a movement that encourages people to eat locally grown food. The farm-to-table idea has become more popular in recent years. But there is also a group that brings "table to farm." This traveling group is called Outstanding in the Field. It says its mission is to reconnect people to the land and to honor local farmers by creating a sort of restaurant without walls.

"Just even those out with the new table."

Jim Denevan got the idea for this kind of "culinary adventure," as he calls it, ten years ago. He recently prepared tables for more than a hundred people at Briars Farmstead in Virginia. He and his eight-member crew arrived the night before. Chefs from a local restaurant prepared the dinner.

"The mission of Outstanding in the Field is to bring people closer to where food comes from and hear the stories directly from the farmer, walk around and get to know places like this, which are important, I think."

Jim Denevan's brother is a farmer and he himself is a former chef. He thought the idea of a meal served right at the farm made sense, though not everyone agreed.

"But I wanted to make the idea work, so I decided to cross the country -- I went all the way across the United States and set the table in farms and ranches and on beaches, and all the places where food comes from."

Guests bring their own plates to the meal. When they arrive, the farmer shows them around.

"These are free-range chickens. We want them to eat as much pasture as possible because that's the magic."

Matt Szechenyi and his family operate Briars Farmstead.

"This type of event connects us with a lot of enthusiastic people, people that will -- we can form relationships with in the future. And this type of small farm business thrives on relationships."

The tour of the farm ends at the dinner table. The meats in this five-course meal come from Matt Szechenyi's farm. The vegetables and other ingredients come from nearby farms. Guests and local farmers sit together.

Annoica Ingram came with a friend.

"The food has been absolutely wonderful. I totally appreciate hard work, because now that you see everything they have to do to take care of the animals and make sure they're well cared for."

Alex Bogel came with his family.

"It is also especially wonderful to sit at a table this big with all these people. The sense of community is wonderful."

Jim Denevan and his team have served almost thirteen thousand people. He plans to expand the operation.

"Next year, we're planning to go to Asia, to Africa and New Zealand and Australia and back to South America."


Contributing: June Soh