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The cattle that graze around Coteau des Prairies Lodge in Havana, N.D., are the source of dry-aged beef used in meals there, including at the upcoming Farm to Table Dinner. Submitted photo.

Coteau des Prairies Lodge to showcase ND ag products

HAVANA, N.D. — A passion for getting people to touch, to see, to feel and — significantly — to taste everything about modern agriculture started the Breker family on the path to opening Coteau des Prairies Lodge, explains Phillip Breker.

"We've always loved having people out to the farm," he says.

The Lodge, which opened in October 2012, gave the family "a legitimate reason" to invite people out, Breker says.

Once there, visitors are in the heart of farm and ranch country. The cattle herd that grazes on the pasture at the Lodge are the source for the dry-aged beef served in the dining room. Farm fields that feed the world are all around.

"The mission for Coteau des Prairies Lodge, from the beginning, was to connect people to the agricultural community," Breker says.

The Lodge on April 6 will hold its first Farm to Table Dinner, featuring five courses prepared from locally sourced ingredients. There will be dry-aged beef — courtesy of Breker's cousins' herd outside the Lodge — along with cheese made from milk from a dairy in nearby Veblen, S.D., trumpet mushrooms grown by a farm near Moorhead, Minn., sunflowers processed in Wahpeton, N.D. and wildflower honey from bees kept at the Breker farm. Other ingredients come from companies and farms across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

Each course also will have beer and wine pairings from area wineries and breweries.

Breker says he is impressed by the menu put together by chef Steve Schulz of The Toasted Frog in downtown Fargo, N.D. Schulz has been a guest chef at prior dinners at the Lodge, and Breker says Schulz was more than up to the task of preparing a locally-sourced meal.

The dinner is sponsored by Agweek and Common Ground, a group that works to connect people to information about the origins of their food. Val Wagner, a volunteer with Common Ground, says the Farm to Table Dinner will be a great opportunity for a relaxed conversation about food and farms and a way to connect people with farmers so they can get information in a better way than a Google search.

"With Common Ground being involved, we can give them those local connections on where their food is coming from," she says.

Wagner says the Lodge came to Common Ground with the idea for the dinner, and Common Ground was excited to get involved and have the opportunity to connect with the customers already accustomed to the Lodge's meals and events.

Common Ground has volunteers available statewide to have conversations about food and farming with groups, whether they're parent-teacher organizations at schools, civic groups or other gatherings. Wagner hopes the dinner at the Lodge will kick-start more conversations and give Common Ground more opportunities to connect with consumers.

Attendees at the Farm to Table Dinner will get more than a good meal and an exposure to what Upper Midwest agriculture offers to their tables. They'll also get an education. Caley Gasch, an assistant professor of soil health at North Dakota State University, farmer Nick Toussaint and crop consultant Lee Briese will give short presentations on soil health, along with the challenges and opportunities faced by modern farmers.

Breker says space at the dinner is limited to about 100 guests, and about half of the spots were filled by last week. He expects the dinner to sell out. The price is $70 per person for a meal, and reservations are required. Wine and beer pairings are included in the price of the meal, water and coffee will be provided at no cost, and soda or additional alcoholic beverages will be sold at the bar. Doors open at 4 p.m., but guests are welcome to arrive early to tour the lodge or enjoy refreshments. Guests will be seated for the meal at 6 p.m.

For reservations or more information, visit cdplodge.com/farm-to-table-dinner-46 or call 701-680-1175.

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