High Country Conservation Center’s annual Harvest Dinner showcases local food | SummitDaily.com

High Country Conservation Center’s annual Harvest Dinner showcases local food

Summit Daily staff report
news@summitdaily.com

The High Country Conservation Center (HC3) is hosting its eighth annual Harvest Dinner benefit Wednesday, Sept. 21. The evening is a four-course celebration of local and seasonal food prepared by chef Vinny Monarcha of Vinny's Restaurant in Frisco. This year, the event will feature food grown at HC3's local farm, the Summit Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and will showcase the success of the new farm's first season.

The annual Harvest Dinner began as a way to bring awareness to the fact that food can be grown at Summit County's high elevation.

"Traditionally, harvest dinners have been a way to celebrate the harvest, so we just wanted to bring those two thoughts together," said Jenny Hammock, HC3's community programs coordinator. "We are celebrating the fact that one, we can grow food at such high altitude and bring awareness to that, and two, the end of the harvest season is around the corner."

Reservations are now available at $55 for adults and $25 for children younger than 12 by contacting HC3 at (970) 668-5703. The Harvest Dinner will also feature door prizes including tickets to the Denver Performing Arts Center. All proceeds from this event support HC3's programs.

"It's one of my favorite events every year," Hammock said. "It's time to kick back and enjoy all the hard work that we've put into the growing season."

Chef Monarcha will prepare the menu based on food donations. This year, a lot more of the produce donations are coming from local farms within 400 miles, Hammock said. Dessert is donated by local restaurants like Blue Moon Bakery.

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"It's going to be a seasonal, four-course meal that will include all spectrums of eating habits from gluten-free to vegan, vegetarian and of course, meat eaters," Hammock said.

The Summit CSA operates at Nancy's Place in Frisco and the Frisco Transfer Center with a total of six greenhouses and over 6,000 square feet of growing space. Bonus crops from the Summit CSA and HC3's five community gardens are donated to the Summit County Women, Infants & Children (WIC) and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center's food banks through the Grow to Share food donation program. In 2015, the Grow to Share program served over 250 families in need with supplemental, healthy produce. Grow to Share includes an educational component where food recipients gain hands-on experience in the gardens, learning about how food is grown and where it comes from. HC3 provides tours and workshops for the public interested in sustainable and local food.

The HC3 just added a new egg share program, partnering with Vail Meat Co. in Avon. It's open to anyone and will run for the five weeks, Hammock said. Next week, four weeks worth of eggs will be available for $32 by calling HC3 or emailing Hammock at jenny@highcountry conservation.org.

"It's super exciting because these are definitely happy chickens — free range, organic, all-natural," she said. "And they are coming from the Eagle Valley."

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