Plow to Plate dinner celebrates local goods

The aroma of homemade pizza dough in the smoker filled the entrance of Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery Wednesday night during the annual Plow to Plate harvest dinner.

The facility’s dining halls and seating areas outside were filled with dozens of homemade hors d’oeuvres and appetizers in an eye-pleasing plating arrangement.

Nearly 100 guests took a tour of the winery and were given an assortment of meals and entrées from local restaurants that used local produce and goods, while giving back to the community.

Boalsburg Farmers Market Manager Tony Sapia said money raised during the dinner would go toward the Learning Kitchen at the farmers market and the teaching gardens through the State College Area School District.

Sapia said the dinner celebrated the abundance of local farm produce and other goods of Centre County.

“We have so much here in our own backyard,” Sapia said. “Here’s a way to showcase that and thank our farmers for making this year a great one at the farmers market.”

There is sill more than a month left at the farmers market held every Tuesday until the end of October at the Pennsylvania Military Museum.

Field hand Jim Eisenstein, of Boalsburg, helps run his son’s farm tent at the market. He said Jade Family Farms, of Port Royal, had a decent year, but hoped for more rain.

“The okra and eggplant could have done better,” Eisenstein said. “But we’re out all the time selling and giving back.”

Situated between State College and Harrisburg, Eisenstein said Jade Family Farms travels around the two areas at different farmers markets. He said knowing the community supports local farms is the most rewarding.

“It’s nice knowing we have a really supportive community who are able to come to us, use our produce and trust us,” Eisenstein said.

“It’s just nice to see where your fruits and veggies are coming from directly,” said patron Marsha Steritt who regularly attends the farmers market and was in attendance at the harvest dinner. “You get to know the farmers and have a conversation about things like organic produce and how they grow their produce, and you’re able to see it right in front of you from that farmer.”

In addition to the general public, local restaurants use produce from central Pennsylvania farms as their ingredients.

Restaurants featured at the harvest dinner Wednesday included Gemelli’s Bakery, Fasta Pasta, Nittany Lion Inn, Nola’s Joint, El Gringo Tacos, Mount Nittany Inn, Gamble Mill Restaurant, Harrison’s and Elk Creek Café.

Chef Jamie Steffen said the Nittany Lion Inn was at the dinner last year as well. This year, Steffen made sake salmon with pumpkin slaw.

At a station next to his, chef Nathan Brungarten of Mount Nittany Inn was making pumpkin and sweet corn tartlet with beef empanadas with fellow chef Richard Wallace.

“It’s important to give back,” Brungarten said. “We use a lot of local produce from the market and they feature us a lot.”