Farm-to-table fare stars in Leelanau Grown

·2 min read

Aug. 6—LAKE LEELANAU — A farm-to-table meal is served during the annual Leelanau Grown at the end of the month.

This is the main fundraiser for the Leelanau Children's Center, an early childhood education center in Leland.

Kristy VerSnyder attended the children's center when it was in the basement of the Leland United Methodist Church and her mom was a teacher there.

She co-owns Island Thyme Catering and Event Planning, which will provide the farm-to-table menu for Leelanau Grown. She said guests can visit three main stations for their dinner. This model allows them to be mindful of allergies and diet restrictions, she added.

"There is a little bit of something for everybody," she said.

The Mediterranean table will include hummus, olives, stuffed grape leaves, lamb meatballs and baba ghanoush — often made with roasted eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice and tahini. Another section is Asian fusion, with vegetable rolls, beef and broccoli, chicken lettuce wraps and other related items.

The final station, VerSnyder said, comes from their experience with the From the Ashes truck. They served wood-fired pizzas during 2020. Though they do not own the truck anymore, VerSnyder said they will make several flatbreads for Leelanau Grown, including Cuban and a vegetable variety.

The menu, she said, features ingredients from Loma Farm, Boss Mouse Cheese, Second Spring Farm and other local places.

Leelanau Children's Center Executive Director Heidi Kruse said their annual fundraiser "has always been centered around farm-to-table cuisine."

The center does too, as Kruse said their working kitchen uses many ingredients that are donated from area farms. There, kids learn how to serve themselves and have a family-style meal.

Proceeds from Leelanau Grown go to a student scholarship program. Kruse said awards can help cover tuition costs for 3-year-olds who are coming into the program.

"We try to serve all children, regardless of income," Kruse said. "Virtually every child who goes to the children's center receives a scholarship. Our goal is to raise at least $40,000 at the event."

Aurora Cellars co-owner Sam Simpson said they are hosting this year's dinner to support the children's center, which "plays a large role in Leelanau County." Plus, his grandfather helped start the center in the 1970s.

Leelanau Grown is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 31 at Aurora Cellars. The main event includes a strolling dinner, wines from the local cellars, cocktails from Tonic & Lime and mocktails from Audacia Elixirs. Elizabeth Landry provides the music.

The VIP Winemakers Circle begins at 5 p.m. Guests can enjoy a tasting experience with Simpson Family Estate Winemaker Drew Perry, Mawby Vineyards Founder Larry Mawby and Horticulture Professor Paolo Sabbatini.

Tickets are $250 and include access to the main Leelanau Grown event. Kruse said people can use the code "EARLYVIP" to receive a discounted ticket price.

General admission is $125 until Aug. 11 at