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Farm to table dinner to benefit Action Ministries
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Dining at one table to provide meals for another is the idea behind the Farm-to-Table Dinner on the historic Covington Square on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m.

The $50 ticket price will benefit Action Ministries Super Pack Program, which provides six meals for Newton County children facing hunger on the weekends. The meal will be prepared by Oxford College Executive Chef Duke Walsh.
“We’re excited about doing the event,” Walsh said. “It’s something we want to be part of.”

Walsh, who works for Bon Appetite Management Company, the contractors who provide all meals for Oxfrod students, said they have been donating the food that’s never been served to shelters through Action Ministries. The food recovery program has provided over 3,200 pounds of food to the homeless in Covington since it began in March.

So, when Action Ministries reached out to Walsh to ask how to get the community involved, he said, “It’s simple — partner with the farmers. Those guys live locally, they have farms here.

“That’s what our company is about — eating locally, eating fresh,” he said.

Local farms and vendors include Riverview Farm, Burge Organic Farm, Harrison Family Farm, Farm and Forage, FarmView, Crystal Organic, Grateful Pastures, Oxford Organic Farm, Udderly Cheese and Bread & Butter Bakery.

“[Walsh] and his staff have been the glue that brought this all together,” said Tamara Richardson, regional director for Action Ministries. “He and his staff have been fantastic. They’re going to make something fantastic with the produce.”
According to Walsh, the menu will include a cheese plate and a charcuterie, or cured meat; an organic spring mix salad with locally-made dressings; chou chou; smoked pork loin; chicken roulade with mushrooms; asparagus; and vegetable Wellingtons.

Deserts will be provided by local cooks. “It’s kind of my favorite part,” Walsh said. “Everyone is bringing their own special dish. It’s kind of like a potluck.

Community pitches in

Richardson said people throughout the community are getting involved the Farm-to-Table Dinner. Local churches will provide the tables and chairs, and Troop 222 Boy Scouts will set them up. The Newton County Arts Association is providing and running the sound system. The Satsuki and Covington garden clubs will create centerpieces for the table. Women’s groups, Girl Scouts and other service groups from the area are also helping out.

“It’s really turning into a community wide endeavor,” Richardson said. “People are pitching in and doing a lot of good for us.”

According to Cathy Dobbs, a Covington realtor who suggested the event and has helped organize it, there will be a meet-and-greet with the vendors, who will talk about what they do and where to purchase their products. The meet-and-greet starts and appetizers will be served at 5:30 p.m. with music provided by blue grass musician Johnny Roquemore. Other entertainers performing throughout the evening will be Brad Parker and an a capella group from Oxford College.

A Southern thing

Dobbs got the idea from her cousin, an organic farmer in Tennessee. Involved in the farm-to-table movement, Dobbs said, the cousin had shared a link about a local farm-to-table dinner.

“When I saw that picture, I thought wouldn’t it be a great thing to do a community dinner, a dinner on the ground — kind of a like a Southern thing — from our table to yours?” Dobbs said.

She approached Richardson and another friend, Kim Hubbard with the idea. Both women were excited and agreed to help, raising money for hungry children in the county.

“I think we get pretty comfortable and we don’t think about kids being hungry because our kids are fed,” Dobbs said, “but it’s a real problem in Newton County. There is a need. A lot of times, people will go to other countries to do mission work. I think this is work we can do here in our own community.”

Dinner will be served outside on the square. If it rains, the event will move to the First Baptist Church fellowship hall, 1139 Usher Street. Seating is limited to 150. For further information or tickets, visit www.actionministries.net or call Action Ministries at 678-280-4161.

“I think it’s going to be really nice,” Dobbs said. “It’s the first one and we’re hoping we can do this again in the fall.”