Farmers promote local food

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Linda Krsnak gently pulls at the vine of a pea plant, grabs a snow pea and eats it, with an audible crunch of satisfaction. It doesn't get fresher than that. She and her husband, Gordon Krsnak, own Linda's Gardens, located 34...

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Linda Krsnak gently pulls at the vine of a pea plant, grabs a snow pea and eats it, with an audible crunch of satisfaction.

It doesn't get fresher than that.

She and her husband, Gordon Krsnak, own Linda's Gardens, located 34 miles northwest of Sioux Falls, S.D., near Chester, S.D.

They focus on vegetables -- bushy tops of carrots and broccoli leaves peek out from the ground -- but the garden near their house showcases Linda Krsnak's love of plants.

Peonies, assorted lilies, poppies and coneflowers wait their turn to bloom. An apricot tree sways near one side of the house. Baltimore and Orchard orioles and other birds flit in and out of the shelterbelt.


This simple yet serene setting is one of the al fresco locations chosen for a farm-to-table dining experience called HarvesTable.

Harvest dinners

A small group of local chefs and farmers led by Linda Krsnak, chef John Noel Gilbertson and Joan Williams plan to host one dinner a month for five months -- the first of which was planned for June 25 -- to showcase local fare. Two other dinners will be held at Strawbale Winery, located near Renner, S.D., and at another location to be determined. HarvesTable launched last summer with two dinners at Linda's Gardens and is part of a larger grass-roots movement to encourage people to purchase locally produced food.

Organizers want guests to experience the garden freshness that only comes by eating foods sourced locally.

The food is prepared onsite with local ingredients, including vegetables from Linda's Gardens; bread and chevre cheese from Cider Hill Farm, near Arlington, S.D.; meat from Hanisch Farms, located north of Humboldt, S.D.; and wine from Strawbale Winery. Guests sit on long tables and are served family-style to create a communal meal.

"Eating at the farm is an incredible way to have a sensory experience with the food," Gilbertson says.

The goal for the dinners, which run from $45 to $60 a person, is to connect people to the source of their food and the people who produce it.

"It brings people out, and they're able to experience gourmet-style food that's prepared right there while you're watching, and it's all local food. It's a way of bringing people together through the food," Linda Krsnak says.


Different menus, changing venues

In true farm-to-table style, the menus for each dinner will vary according to what's in season. Last year, Joan Williams prepared rhubarb sauce and puff pastries with an apricot sauce on top, the apricot sauce made from Krsnak's own apricots. Linda Krsnak recalls a lasagna prepared with potatoes and fennel.

"It's a celebration of all this energy that is exploding around local simply prepared foods. . . . You don't need to do a lot with garden-fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt," Gilbertson says.

Portions of the seven courses include chilled spring onion veloute with basil and ciabatta; roasted turnip, beet, carrot and garlic root vegetable gratin with fresh chevre; coffee-crusted roast pork shoulder nachos with hominy and pumpkin seed-cilantro-lime (a pureed seed sauce that is traditional in Mexican cooking); and maple ice cream with bacon and caramel pralines and hazelnut flour shortbread.

Gilbertson works with a small team of cooks and chefs, including Holly Jansma, Shelly Wiedeman and Roger Tietze.

"Our goal is to create exposure for local foods done simply but extremely well," Gilbertson says.

James and DeAnn Echols, owners of the Great Outdoor Store, are regular farmer's market customers and attended a HarvesTable dinner last year.

Dining at Linda's Gardens gave DeAnn Echols the chance to see firsthand the source of her food.


"It added to the evening being so special. You're looking at the food growing, and you're eating it on your table. . . . As close as we are to agriculture (in South Dakota), we don't experience it as much," she says.

The dinners at Strawbale Winery will highlight some of the winery's 25 wines in food and wine pairings and in prepared dishes, says owner Don South.

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