Many diners are familiar with the farm-to-fork concept of fresh farm-sourced ingredients being served up by chefs in healthy, gourmet form. However, there’s something that goes even beyond farm-to-fork and at Locavore Farm in Grant Park, Illinois, it’s called “Dine on the Land.” The Jones family’s 5-acre farm has become a hub for the good food and local food movement, welcoming guests to enjoy a feast right on the land where the vegetables were grown, the eggs were laid and the meat is pasture-raised. What doesn’t come from the property comes from local sources—other small family farms within about a 10-mile radius.
Last year was the first season, where more than 4,000 explored the farm and 1,800 dined there at a custom-made 100-seat table situated right in the middle of the property overlooking a garden, a pond and neighboring farms.
This year kicked off with a Heal the Planet Farm Festival featuring a concert, speakers such as New York Times bestselling author Jordan Rubin, lunch, hayrides, fishing, workshops and craft kombucha on tap. New to the property this year is an 80-foot barn that guests helped raise money for last year to expand Locavore's event options and extend their season.
Dine-on-the-land dinners encompass four hours of feasting along with a marketplace of artisan vendors and farmers. The five-course meals run $100 per person (kids age 15 and under priced at $25). Starting with an amuse-bouche at the bar, guests then gather around the table for an appetizer, a salad harvested just a few hours before guests arrive, an entrée, a palate cleanser and then dessert. “All the ingredients are local, organic, and gluten-free, and what’s not missing is any of the flavor,” says Rachael Jones, who runs the farm with her husband, Chris. All food is prepared by the culinary team of the Cottage on Dixie in Homewood.
Jones also says that each dinner varies depending on what’s in season. Without the transport time and any middlemen, the organic food at Locavore Farm is as fresh as you can get.
The experience at Locavore Farm isn’t just a feast for the foodie eyes, but gives a glimpse of an idyllic farm life where mason jars hang in trees with small glowing lights resembling fireflies, fresh bouquets of wild flowers or fragrant blooms adorn the tables and handmade quilts are draped over hay bales. The flow of the dinners feels homey, communal and inspiring—giving no hint of the hard work it takes to maintain and prepare the farm for such events.
Jones says that there were several objectives in planning out the farm, one being a desire to grow good food for people and another connecting small, sustainable family farms with the public. “For us, to be able to expand the reach for family farms in the region is what kept us investing in a second season with the barn,” she says. "Growing a community that supports the good and hard work of those who bring nourishment to the table was our true success last year and continued vision for this season.”