All About Our 2022 Fall Harvest Dinner
For years, I’ve had a vision of hosting a Harvest Dinner on our property using exclusively ingredients grown in our organic garden. Finally this year I made that dream a reality! I invited family and friends to enjoy a 4-course vegetarian meal prepared by an amazing local chef.
Here’s a look at how we planned our Fall Harvest Dinner so that you can do the same!
This post covers:
- What Is A Harvest Dinner
- Our Harvest Dinner Decor
- Our Harvest Dinner Menu
- How To Plan Your Garden Around Having A Harvest Dinner
What Is A Harvest Dinner
A Harvest Dinner can really be whatever you want to make of it!
Typically, they’re hosted in the Fall when harvest is at its peak and there’s a variety of local food to cook with.
I was very inspired by the Sustainable South Osborne Community Co-Op (SSOCC) Harvest Dinner. They’re a local community garden co-op based here in Winnipeg, MB that hosts an annual event with Chef Ben Kramer.
A few years ago we had some of the team members from SSOCC on The Grow Guide Podcast to share about their event. Since then, I’ve been wanting to host my own with a few twists…
Here’s how I wanted our Harvest Dinner to go:
- Be hosted on our property so that it was hyper-local for my guests with having the food literally grown a few feet away from where they eat.
- Incorporate ingredients from the garden into each dish (including cocktails!). Any ingredients that couldn’t be garden-grown I requested be sourced from other local farms, brands, etc..
- Have a local chef cook for us so that I could enjoy the evening and the food would be top notch.
Our Harvest Dinner Decor
I love decorating for a party…like absolutely love.
And one of the great things about hosting a Harvest Dinner in the Fall is that there’s tons of garden flowers in bloom to decorate with. So we went all out.
We created one long table for all 20 of the guests so that everyone was sitting together.
In the centre of each table, I had vases filled with garden zinnias, sunflowers and cosmos. And beside that were mini pumpkins to add to the Fall vibes.
I also used more pumpkins from our patch and some potted Mums to decorate the entrance of the tent as well as on our front porch where we hosted cocktail hour.
Now for the big decor moment of the evening…
DIY Arbor Floral Arrangement
Since we were eating in a tent, I wanted to create some sort of floral arbor that could hang above us.
This seemed like a lofty idea and something that might be difficult to execute, but it surprisingly ended up being a simple DIY!
It turned out perfectly! And added so much to the tent.
To create, I used chicken wire mesh to build a sphere that we packed with foliage from my cosmo stalks as well as various herbs to add texture. We then tucked in an assortment of different colour cut flowers.
We then added two thin pieces of wood to the top to add support and avoid the middle from sagging. To hang it from the tent, we used heavy-duty wire.
This DIY floral arbor took us about 1 hour to build, including the time it took to harvest the flowers from the garden.
Our Harvest Dinner Menu
The food. The most important part of a Fall Harvest Dinner, of course.
I met with our chef, Zac Chizda from The Oxbow Winnipeg a few weeks before our dinner to plan the menu.
We discussed what garden harvest would be ready for the dinner, which was set for mid September, and planned the menu from there.
As someone who doesn’t eat meat, I of course wanted all the dishes to be vegetarian. But I also wanted to ensure they were packed with flavour and something new and exciting my guests wouldn’t have tried before.
In addition to all that, I wanted to have great wine pairings with each course.
Was I asking for too much? Maybe…but Zac blew us away!
Here’s what we came up with.
Cocktail Hour Menu
Fresh Focaccia w/ Baked Brie, Cherry Tomato Jam & Basil
- Bread baked in-house by The Oxbow
- Cheese sourced locally from The Cheesemongers Fromagerie
- Cherry Tomatoes & Basil grown in our garden
- Fresh cut calendula from our garden for garnish
Cauliflower Fritters w/ Yogurt & Honey
- Cauliflower and zucchini from our garden
- Local Manitoba honey
- Homemade yogurt made with Chaeban cream
Lemon Balm & Mint Gin Smash Cocktail
- Herbs from our garden
- Patent 5 Distillery gin
Smoked Potato & Corn Chowder w/ Charred Peppers
- Potatoes, corn and peppers from our garden
- Cream from Chaeban
Green Goddess Salad w/ Marinated Patty Pan
- Salad greens from Wild Earth Farms
- Patty Pan from our garden
- Herbs from our garden for the green goddess dressing
Roasted Vegetable Rotolo
- Squash, tomatoes and peppers from our garden
- Fresh rotolo pasta made in-house at The Oxbow
- Cheese from The Cheesemongers Fromagerie
Garden “Key Lime Pie” w/ Ground Cherries & Bergamot Cream
- Ground cherries and bergamot from our garden
So as you can see, we feasted!
It was an incredible meal and we are so thankful to Chef Zac as well as Chef Meg and Abby (bartender/server) who made the evening extremely successful.
Support your local restaurants, folks. They deserve it.
5 Tips To Plan Your Garden Around Having A Harvest Dinner
The most common question friends have asked since I’ve told them about our Harvest Dinner is “how did you grow all that food?”
And the answer is that I planned my 2022 garden with this dinner in mind.
Back in the early Spring when I was tending to seedlings indoors, I started thinking about this dinner. And if you want to host your own Harvest Dinner, I suggest you do the same!
You don’t need a huge garden to feed your friends and family. You just need to be strategic.
Here’s 5 tips you can follow to help plan your garden around having a harvest dinner.
1. Plant crops that have a good return on investment (ROI)
You’ll need to make the most of your plants in order to have enough harvest to feed a large group.
Prioritize planting crops that have a good ROI. Things like corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs are all crops that will produce many fruit per plant.
2. Grow foods that are ready to harvest late in the season
If you’re planning to host your dinner in the Fall like we did, plant crops that will be ready to harvest at that time.
Winter squash is a great option for this. However in a Zone 3 garden like ours, tomatoes, herbs and peppers are still typically abundant come September.
3. Preserve foods that are ready to harvest earlier in the season
Don’t limit yourself to foods that are only ready to harvest in the Fall.
If you can be well prepared, try and preserve some of your early harvest so you can add it to your Harvest Dinner meal. I wish I did more of this!
My Vegan Chive Pesto would be a great recipe to freeze and serve at your Harvest Dinner.
4. Pick a theme for your dinner if you are heavy on one crop
This is something Zac and I discussed when planning our menu.
Though I did have a large variety of harvest to choose from, there were a few crops that were really abundant.
We played around with the idea of doing 4 courses all made with tomatoes. Or all made with potatoes. We even talked about getting really wild and doing a garlic ice cream!
There’s so many options. Get creative! If you are heavy on one crop, make the most of it and make that vegetable the star of each dish.
5. Make it a community dinner if you are light on harvest
I love the idea of making your Harvest Dinner a community or neighbourhood event.
This would certainly be easy if you garden on a community plot. But definitely something that would also work if you have neighbours or friends who also love to garden.
A small garden space or urban property doesn’t need to limit you to hosting your own Harvest Dinner.
And there you have it!
I hope you enjoyed this read all about our Harvest Dinner.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions, I answer all comments! Or if you’ve hosted your own Harvest Dinner, I’d love to hear about it.
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