Every August, I throw a client appreciation garden party.
I invite garden installation clients and my garden-to-table membership group and host a garden-to-table party with local artisans, chefs, and beverage connoisseurs for a sunshiney afternoon spent together in the garden.
When I started to garden, I had personal goals I wanted to achieve, but I never considered the community that would come from this hobby-turned-lifestyle. Now, the growing garden-to-table community is my very favorite thing about gardening. I feel lucky to be surrounded by people who are committed to growth and who are exploring natural ways to live healthier lives. And who are down to eat delicious food while chatting, listening to live music, and strolling through the garden!
I know as the host maybe I should play it a little more cool, but I just have to say, this year’s party was pretty awesome. And that is thanks to the talent of the local makers who came together and celebrated their craft by sharing it with our guests. Of course a garden-to-table party revolves around food, so we’ll start there.
(By the way, if you’re inspired to throw your own garden-to-table party after reading this, I’ll link everything below! 😉)
Guests were greeted with a gorgeous grazing table designed by Sally Roeckell of Sage and Jam Grazing. Sally and her team create beautiful customized spreads of seasonal foods for all occasions. From tablescapes at receptions to small boards for intimate gatherings, Sally can make it happen. Given that this was a garden-to-table party, Sally got free reign in my kitchen garden and created an epic spread that showcased all the delectable ways you can enjoy your garden harvests. From pickled beans and edible flower garnishes, to fresh picked berries and juicy cherry tomatoes, to the very serving vessels we used (hummus was served in a cored out cabbage, so cool), Sally made sure each detail fit the garden-to-table theme.
And that was just appetizers! I also invited two very special chefs to cook a garden-to-table feast for guests: Tom Tuki and Robyn Wright. Tom is a dear friend who was previously a chef in Australia, and he has been my go-to garden-to-table chef for years. Tom knows just how to make those garden fresh flavors shine.
Robyn owns an organic, gluten-free baking company called Everywhere is Local. Everywhere is Local provides gluten-free Belgian waffles, loaded seed bread, and seasonally inspired bakery treats to cafes and restaurants in the Lake Country area. I met Robyn when I picked up her cookbook Everywhere is Local. I immediately wanted to share her talents with this garden-to-table community.
The gluten-free desserts Robyn made for the party were so delicious, and they were beautifully arranged with signage created by Allie from Pure Joy Ink. Allie also designed the food menu on a rustic window display. Garden bouquets lined the tables, designed by Brittany from Willow Design. My dear friend Sam from Simply Nourished Nutrition helped with the flower design using the skills she learned in the garden-to-table membership’s cut flower class. The farmhouse furniture for serving displays came from a local event rental company, Parker Design. It really brought the whole space together.
And we can’t forget about the drinks! Cordial Co. founders Alma and Enrique brought the sweetest beverage cart to the party. Artisan tequila drinks and garden-to-table teas and lemonades were served. Alma and Enrique grow their own agave azul back home in Jalisco, which is made into tequila. Every detail was accounted for: sugarcane straws and biodegradable, compostable cups brought a true garden to table feel and helped to keep our planet a little happier, too! Guests absolutely raved about this beverage cart. I loved that I got to create a signature drink, but guests could also customize their own concoctions. Plus, anytime mocktails are not an afterthought, but a real experience in their own right like Cordial Co. served, it’s a plus in my book!
The Garden-to-Table Activities
The way everyone worked together and meshed their talents to create one cohesive design was truly amazing to watch. You don’t have to take my word for it, by the way. Check out my recent Instagram posts and YouTube videos for a recap of the day. And hey, you could always get yourself invited next year – just become a garden installation client! 😘. In addition to enjoying garden to table fare, we had some live music and yard games. The kiddos stayed busy with a garden scavenger hunt and homemade hibiscus syrup sno-cones. Adult guests heard talks from the chefs and dear friend and horticulturist Lisa Hilgenberg (from the Chicago Botanic Garden), followed by a tour my kitchen garden, mushroom spore path, and the newly installed mini orchard designed in a meadow style.
It was beautiful to see the dedication and talent of the artisans who came together and celebrated the love of their craft by sharing it with our guests. I know I walked away inspired, and I hope clients discovered new ways to bring garden harvests to the table. But more than that, I hope everyone got the chance to make a personal connection, or to “talk shop” with a fellow gardener, so this garden to table community continues to grow. I can’t wait to see where we will be next year at this time. In fact, a big change is coming in September . . . stay tuned, because I’ll be able to share details soon!