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Home-grown: UMC dinner features locally grown food

Lloyd Brokaw pours a sauce into a bottle as he prepares for the Farm to Table event at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Friday evening. Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald1 / 6
Caleb Timp puts the final touches on an appetizer for the Farm to Table dinner at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Friday evening. Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald2 / 6
Each table was decorated with fresh flowers at the Farm to Table dinner Friday evening at the University of Minnesota. Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald3 / 6
Lloyd Brokaw mixes corn for a dish as a part of the first Farm to Table dinner at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Friday evening. Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald4 / 6
Kennedy Resendiz, a UMC senior, carefully places corn on the plate for an appetizer as a part of the Farm to Table dinner at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Friday evening. Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald5 / 6
UMC senior Vanessa Robbins, left, and sophomore Adam Riddle put together a dish for the Farm to Table dinner at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Friday evening. Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald6 / 6

CROOKSTON, Minn. — Food brings people together. It allows people to share not just a meal, but maybe a conversation or a laugh, too.

For students, faculty, staff and community members in Crookston, a special meal allowed people to come together to celebrate northern Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Crookston on Friday night.

The event, Farm to Table, featured food that was grown locally and on campus by UMC students. Locally raised beef was a fixture of the menu, in addition to many other local items.

UMC Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause said the event highlights their horticulture and animal science majors, as well as all of the great work the students do at UMC.

"This is a very experiential, kind of hands-on university, so this event is focusing on celebrating the great (things) the students do," she said.

The idea from the event came from a University of Minnesota-Twin Cities alum, Duane Hoff. Duane, along with his wife Susan, own Fantesca Estate & Winery, a wine company in California. Duane is the son of longtime Crookston residents and UMC faculty Dave and Irene Hoff.

Local spirits and craft beer sampling from Revelation Ale Works and Far North Spirits, both of Hallock, Minn., were also a part of the meal.

The chefs who helped prepare the meals are also from the Midwest, Holz-Clause said.

Nearly every part of the event was student-led, including the music, decorations and more.

"This is just another example of trying to celebrate our students and to bring maybe some new people here who haven't been apart of UMC in the past," she said.

Caleb Timp, executive chef at Luther College, helped write the menu and prepare the dishes for Friday night's dinner. The dinner consisted of an appetizer featuring Minnesota "Ceviche," which included locally grown vegetables and pan-seared walleye that was also caught locally.

Timp spent months planning the menu, keeping in mind what's in season and what other items would be available for him to consider.

"I've been looking forward to it for months now," Timp said.

Also on the menu was buttermilk brined turkey breast, with turkey donated from UMC alum Carl Wittenburg, and a classic beef bourguignon stew. Wittenburg is one of the top turkey producers in the nation and has led the National Turkey Federation as its chairman.

"(Food) is a natural way to bring people together," Wittenburg said.

Amber Johnson, a senior majoring in agriculture communications, presented her "student-story" during the dinner, which gave her a chance to reflect on her time at the school and what made her decide to come to UMC.

"I think it's definitely a very good idea just as a way to showcase the campus itself, and also the students," Johnson said.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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