The best way to kick off the holidays comes before the first slice of pumpkin pie, sniffing the scents of roasting turkey or even turning on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. In the Monadnock Region, this day of gratitude kicks off with the annual Stonewall Farm Thanksgiving Farm Fare event where attendees shop, socialize and even sip a cocktail while welcoming the holiday season and getting everything they need for their holiday feast.
“This is a signature event for the farm that started when we didn’t have farmers’ markets or the [Monadnock] Food Co-op or Hannah Grimes,” said Julie Davenson, executive director of Stonewall Farm. “This was the one central place to shop, and since then it has become a tradition. Now, it is another venue for shopping local, and I think you can never really have enough opportunities for that.”
The 2019 Farm Fare will span Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Stonewall Farm. In addition to both new and returning vendors and the popular cooking demonstrations, for the first time this year visitors have the opportunity to jazz up their holiday menu by attending mocktail/cocktail demonstrations.
“Two of our staff, Adam Berube and Tara Pratt, have been bartenders in town and will be doing our demos and giving people the opportunity to get a new recipe for holiday entertaining,” Davenson said. “The idea came from Tara who thought that since we were doing cooking demonstrations, people always like to have new recipes and it could be fun and festive [to do cocktail demonstrations]. We want people to have an experience when they are shopping at Farm Fare.”
On Saturday, Farm Fare will include a full slate of cooking demonstrations to help guests learn more about bringing farm fresh foods to their table and their guests. Among the presentations will be a session focusing on cooking with kids, another with a nutritionist and a third featuring local chef Jordan Scott of Machina Arts who is known for sourcing locally.
“Again, we want people to add another dimension to the experience at Farm Fare. Our mission is education around agriculture and this is another way to teach people about adding farm-fresh items to their menus,” Davenson said.
Among the vendors are returning fan favorites plus some first-timers as well, including familiar names like Orchard Hill Breadworks, CC&D’s Kitchen Market, Amy’s French Macaroons and so many others.
“The vendors that are here are able to sell direct to customers, instead of wholesale, and it is an important opportunity for our local farmers,” Davenson explained. “We want to support the local food system and keep it vibrant and to do that we can give them a place for a direct retail outlet.
“This event is an important piece in supporting the local farm community,” Davenson continued. “I hear from vendors it is a huge chunk of their revenue, especially as the year wraps up. With this event it is about supporting local food systems and the need to make food in our own community.
“If we are purchasing local food, we are investing to keep farming and agriculture in our community. It is so important because it is not going to be sustainable if we keep importing most of our food.”
The vendors who attend bring everything needed for the entire Thanksgiving holiday, from hostess gifts to décor, vegetables to desserts, turkey to cranberries. Davenson mentioned that a number of the vendors will even make and offer special flavors or items that can only be found at Farm Fare and are not among their usual inventory.
When asked how much of her Thanksgiving will come from Farm Fare, Davenson paused and went through her menu before proclaiming, “Everything but the table itself! The turkey, vegetables, dairy and baked goods will all be from Farm Fare. We do have a furniture maker coming with extra chairs, but the only thing at my house not from here will be the table.”
“I love this event,” she added. “I always loved coming here for it even before I worked here. The atmosphere, the energy and seeing all the people come out to the farm and support the local vendors is amazing.”
The 2019 Stonewall Farm Thanksgiving Farm Fare will be Nov. 22 and 23 at Stonewall Farm, 242 Chesterfield Road in Keene. For more information, visit stonewallfarm.org/stonewall-farm-events or facebook.com/StonewallFarmNH.