A free homegrown banquet for the people
By Alison Rooney
One day, taking stock of the bounty of locally grown organic vegetables on her table, Philipstown resident and Philipstown.info board member Stacey Farley was struck by something: Everything on the table except for the food was made overseas. Given the deep artistic vein that runs through this community, and the ever-increasing commitment by many to eating healthily, with fewer processed foods, and to supporting local farms, that seemed wrong.
Farley, a ceramist, resolved to remedy this imbalance, first within her own home, using her own tableware. “It became my mission to make locally made wares on which to serve our locally made food,” Farley said. Speaking with Carinda Swann, the director of the Garrison Art Center, where she is a board member, Farley mentioned this desire and how it might translate into a series of workshops built around that concept, and an idea took root.
Soon thereafter, the nascent idea grew up. “Carinda took the idea and has run with it,” related Farley. The idea has now spiraled into a huge community event, anointed “Made in Philipstown.” On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, a banquet will take place along the Hudson River shoreline on Garrison’s Landing, next to the Art Center. Imagine a 300-foot-long, candle-lit table seating about 400 guests, laden with everything imaginable, decorative and functional, all hand-made by Philipstown residents, and on it, food completely grown locally, a homegrown, home-sown, home-thrown banquet for the people of Philipstown, all free of charge. These are the actual plans for Saturday afternoon and evening, Sept. 5.
Swann is a member of the Hudson Highlands Roundtable, a group of leaders of area nonprofits, and her idea of “paying tribute to the can-do spirit and varied talents of the residents of Philipstown” was embraced by all of them. Beyond all of the details of the event itself, Swann emphasized that it is “about the community, for the community and made by the community.”
Swann noted that members of the roundtable are always talking about how to “mutually market what we have here in this community. This is a chance to act on that, and every organization approached has said ‘yes.’ All organizations are participating equally.” Swann also wants to include all of Philipstown’s fire departments, ambulance corps and other civic organizations and services; she stressed that every local organization is welcome, and if there are any who have been overlooked and wish to participate, Made in Philipstown would love to hear from and include them; they should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To date, co-hosts (all nonprofits) include Boscobel, Constitution Marsh, Garrison’s Landing Association, Garrison Art Center, Glynwood Farm, Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Manitoga/Russel Wright Design Center, Philipstown.info/The Paper and the Cold Spring Lions Club. Business sponsors (all for-profits) thus far are Clay to Table, Davoren Farm, Longhaul Farm, PTACEK Home and Skybaby Yoga.
“Events like Made in Philipstown highlight the very best that Philipstown has to offer. The Hudson Highlands Land Trust is happy to collaborate with the Art Center and so many other local organizations, to bring this project to life,” said HHLT Executive Director Andy Chmar.
What began with thoughts of the most integral parts of food-serving — plates, cups and bowls — soon extended to everything else on the table: linens, serving utensils, vases, baskets, candles, centerpieces and flowers (from the Philipstown Garden Club). Everything on the table will be created, throughout the spring and summer, by the guests themselves, with helping hands from local artisans whose skills extend beyond making to teaching others how to do the same. Tom Ptacek, of Ptacek Homes, will be creating some yet-to-be-determined pieces of furniture for the banquet.
Everything on the plates will be grown locally, with food delivered fresh from Glynwood, Longhaul Farm, Davoren Farm and more, the menu offering the harvest of the late summer season: corn, squash, tomatoes, greens, melons, chicken and bread. The only out-of-area consumable will be the wine, solely because of the lack of local wineries. A seed-planting ceremony and celebration will take place in early June at Davoren Farm, across the road from Boscobel. This field will be planted with food for the banquet that all can watch as it grows all summer.
Although Swann is quick to emphasize that it’s not “all about the plates,” everyone is welcome to attend free workshops, taking place over the course of spring and summer, for those who have little experience in clay, where they can make their own banquet plate to use. Each plate will be stamped with “Made in Philipstown, 2015” and the maker’s name and will, hopefully, be used again in years — perhaps generations — to come, according to Farley.
Other free workshops, with sessions for all levels and ages, will focus on other forms: basket weaving, candle making, woodworking, linen printing, stitchery, papermaking, metalworking and more. Master workshops, the only ones with a nominal fee involved, will be geared towards those with some expertise already.
“We see this as an equivalent of a block party — a wonderful dinner together on the river, all made by hand,” Farley said.
The Made in Philipstown banquet will take place Sept. 5 from 4 to 8 p.m., with a rain date of Sunday, Sept. 6. It is completely free for all Philipstown residents, and reservations are required, taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Up to 100 seats will be reserved for guests of residents, at a cost of $50 person, $30 per child under 12.
Information on all of the workshops and more on the banquet itself will be updated regularly at madeinphilipstown.com. For information and reservations, email Pam McCluskey, banquet administrator, at email@example.com. For details on workshops, contact Garrison Art Center at 845-424-3960 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images courtesy Made in Philipstown