On Thursday, September 19, over 500 people mingled and munched their way through dozens of farm to table tasting stations. Saratoga PLAN’s 14th annual fundraiser raised approximately $120,000, funds that will support continued conservation projects throughout Saratoga County.
As the skies cooled on Thursday evening, the Hot Club of Saratoga plucked, strummed and hummed tunes on Saratoga National’s patio. Guests of Saratoga PLAN peppered the porch, plates in hand, and ventured to and from tasting stations, which featured 12 chefs and over a dozen drink vendors. Chefs and vendors shared small plates and drinks, just enough to make patrons want seconds. The varying, delectable fare included, but was not limited to, Korean-inspired dishes, tacos, oxtail sliders, vegetable surprise, assorted crudités, pies, beer and more!
In true farm to table fashion, and in celebrating the local harvest and conservation of vital agricultural lands, volunteers, chefs and staff sourced event ingredients from over 70 farms, all within 100 miles of Saratoga Springs, NY.
“Creating the connection between farm and fork, and as a result between farmer and neighbor, is one of the most rewarding parts of our work. As the community’s connection to the land strengthens, so does their concern and desire to conserve it,” said Alex Fylypovych, PLAN’s Community Engagement Manager.
“Working so closely with local farmers is just one of the ways Saratoga PLAN implements its mission to preserve the rural character, natural habitats and scenic beauty of Saratoga County,” Fylypovych said.
In an effort to curb waste and benefit another area nonprofit, chefs donated remaining food to Shelters of Saratoga.
Michelle Hall, Feast of the Fields Event Coordinator explained that this year’s Feast of the Fields created an atmosphere where folks took a pause from their busy day-to-day to take responsibility for protecting the place they value so greatly. “Feast brings people together to rally around conservation in Saratoga County,” Hall said.
Guests showed their support by participating in a number of activates throughout the evening. In addition to divine dining, activities included a live and silent auction as well as a Fund-a-Need. Silent auction top sellers included a Bianchi Touring Bike from Adirondack Ultra Cycling, a beach getaway in Sanibel Island, and the event’s original invitation artwork by local artist, Elisa Sheehan.
The Fund-a-Need, a new addition to the annual event, brought PLAN’s behind-the-scenes projects into the spotlight, raising $30,000 of the $33,000 goal for internship and stewardship programs.
“Now more than ever it’s critical to educate the next generation of conservationists. Guests’ donations on Thursday night are giving us that opportunity,” said Fylypovych.
“We also raised funds to provide PLAN’s trail stewards with the proper equipment for trail planning and maintenance, which equates to more well-maintained trails for families and friends to enjoy. We couldn’t be more grateful for the community’s support,” she said.
PLAN is hoping to raise the remaining $3,000 to support both student internship opportunities and trail maintenance equipment for trail stewards and is still accepting donations. If you would like to contribute to the cause, please visit www.saratogaplan.org or call 518-587-5554.
The event went off without a hitch thanks to the hard work of over 35 volunteers and a new Feast chair, Sandra Reulet. “This year we had an amazing, super-woman of a chair, Sandra Reulet, who fearlessly led the Feast committee for an event she’d never even been to. We can’t thank her enough for stepping up this year, and she’s already committed to lead our committee again next year,” said Hall.
“Overall this has been a wonderful opportunity to contribute, and effect a positive impact on our community,” said Reulet. “And the volunteers went the extra mile, literally, in gathering farm fresh ingredients from our 50+ local farms and delivering them promptly to each Chef.”
From ticket purchases to live auction bids, the evening raised a total of about $120,000. Seeing as Saratoga County is the fastest growing county in New York State, every acre conserved is a critical piece of the conservation puzzle. Over the next year, PLAN hopes to use the funds to complete numerous conservation projects, including 1,200 acres of new conservation, adding to the over 7,000 acres conserved to date.