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Aug. 16-30: Farm to Table event benefits 5 local farmers markets

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Matt Pegouskie for the information in this story.)

The 5th annual 5 Healthy Towns Farm to Table Fabulous Feast is back. Well, not exactly back. Let’s say, “Interrupted!”

Like so much of life in 2020, this event – celebrating Eating Better and Eating Local – has been modified to meet the challenge.

“We’ve moved to a virtual auction,” said Suzi Greenway, chair of this year’s event and market manager of the Open Air Market of Stockbridge.

“We figured a lot of people just weren’t ready to head out to a large event, even if we could provide plenty of outdoor social distancing space.”

Traditionally, the fundraiser has been a community dinner for 150, featuring chefs from each of the five towns – Chelsea, Grass Lake, Manchester, Dexter and Stockbridge.

Since the first dinner in 2016, held in downtown Chelsea, chefs from The Common Grill, Food Art, Smokehouse 52, Moveable Feast, Roaming Goat, Fresh Forage, and the Dexter Pub have created fabulous appetizers, entrees, and desserts for community members from all five towns.

“While we’re disappointed, we had to change up the plan, we’re excited to try the auction and see how it goes,” Greenway said.

The mission of the event is still the same, she added.

“It’s all about celebrating our markets, our farmers, eating better, and eating local.”

Amy Heydlauff, executive director of the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation agrees. And it shows. The foundation is the primary financial sponsor of the event.

“Besides the obvious access to good food, these market managers and the people they work with keep us connected to each other in the healthiest of ways. Plus they build pride in our communities. To me, that’s worth supporting in every way we can.”

The event is important to the host community, too, with each town crafting  the fundraiser to be an extension of their community. Stockbridge is the fifth of the 5 towns to host.

For Stockbridge, that means it’s a chance to showcase what the Open Air Market means to community.

“We depend on the fresh produce and other food that the Open Air Market brings to our clients,” said committee member Jo Mayer, who is also the board chair for Stockbridge Community Outreach.

“Our Market Bucks collaboration — where we give our clients ‘Market Bucks’ to spend on food and food producing plants at the market — is an important and popular program which helps to fill in the food gap. Last year our clients spent about $1,500 in Market Bucks at the OAM.”

Additionally, the 2020 event added a “Name the Bee” contest for kids 15 and under.

“We’ve got the cutest bee as part of our promotional materials,” said Greenway, “and our bee needs a name!” Entry forms are available at each of the market’s information booth.

Auction items will become available to peruse in early August, but in the meantime, potential bidders and buyers are encouraged to register and get ready for the big “reveal.”

“We’re getting new items everyday,” said Greenway.

The Common Grill has donated Dinner for 8, Chelsea artist Sue Craig has donated a framed print of the iconic Seitz’ Tavern, Temperance Paige Photography is providing a family session, she said. They also have virtual cooking and art classes, travel photography, and a fun app-based scavenger hunts for each town.

“But there’s going to be the proverbial ‘something for everyone’ –  golfing, food, art, music, pottery, yoga, cookbooks, jewelry, travel, home improvement, spa services! We’re really excited to offer such a variety of items in a variety of values,” said Greenway.

The virtual auction will run Aug. 16 to Aug. 30. Proceeds benefit the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation’s five farmers markets in Chelsea, Grass Lake, Manchester, Dexter, and Stockbridge.

For more information and to register, visit   

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