Review: From seed to stove

By Amelia Hill
Online Editor

Urban Roots Farm, run by Adam and Melissa Millsap, presented the 2012 Farm to Table Dinner on Sat., Sept. 8. Though the fundraiser wasn’t perfect, the story of Urban Roots Farm and it’s sustainable philosophy is.

“It [the property] was a home for a lot of couches and broken down cars,” Melissa states. Her husband, Adam, adds, “We had talked a good deal about what we might be able to do with this property in order to improve the neighborhood.” Now the one-acre plot, located in Springfield, Mo., is home to a thriving, sustainable farm, producing fruits and veggies year-round for up to 60 families.

Atmosphere: 8.5

The atmosphere was pleasantly ironic, making for an unforgettable evening. One can smell fresh produce and at the same time, hear the hustle and bustle of a booming city. Tables were garnished with vivid flowers and mismatched china, giving the dining area a quirky vibe. “Our number one factor is [financial and ecological] sustainability,” explains Adam.

Allowing guests to better understand the Millsap dream, the event was spread amongst the entire lot. Home grown appetizers were located throughout the farm. Jeff Maddox, a local beekeeper, discussed pollination and honey tasting in the back.  Near the driveway, one may help themselves to beverages, including beer from Mother’s brewery, while listening to live music from local singer/songwriters.

Music: 9

Local musicians—Barak Hill, Dallas Jones, Brett Miller, and Jody Bilyeu—took the stage during the event. Their raw, acoustic music blended lovely with the hum of guests conversing. When playing together, their voices harmonized brilliantly. When alone, their personalities resonated through their writing.

Food: 6

The five-course meal, prepared by Kate Murr and Grace Rybarczyk, comprised of dishes made from locally grown ingredients. Despite the backfiring cooking methods, the overall flavors were fairly admirable.

The dinner began with field appetizers including swiss chard & pine nut bruschetta, pickled green beans & okra and favorited, roasted carrots. The carrots were unforgettable—thus named The Unforgettable Carrots. Roasted until lightly charred, the sweet juices aroused one’s tongue, pulling at the soul.

Following the flavorful starters, the hosts and cooks served soup and salad. The roasted jalapeño gazpacho lacked jalepeños; it just didn’t have quite enough “kick.” As for the salad, it was brilliant. Subtle, berry vinaigrette dressed an earthy mixture of beets, apples, almonds and greens.

An outdoor event needs simplicity; the main course was far from that. The food got cold—fast. Murr and Rybarczyk seasoned the pork and cranberry chutney to perfection. With that said, it would have been more enjoyable at the right temperature.The oven-roasted butternut and beets, complemented the pork nicely, but too lacked warmth. There was an absence of moisture in the kale & goat cheese rolls, making them difficult to swallow.  The fennel roasted potato frittata was unnecessary and didn’t really add anything to the meal.

Speaking of simplicity, the dessert went without it. The peach-topped honey rice pudding with Askinosie chocolate was excessively messy. It was interesting, but I’ve appreciated the same flavors in a peach cobbler.

Overall: 8

The Farm to Table Dinner made for an overall magical evening. The food could have been simpler, but the experience outweighed any incompetence. I was surrounded by charming people, advocates of locality. All in all, the night was well worth the $40.