A Harvest Wedding
Written onJune 01 , 2009
Bowls overflowing with local blueberries, plates of Neighborly Farms and Jasper Hill cheese, fresh bread made by Red Hen Bakery, plus sunflowers from Gardens at Seven Gables (Barre) and Fool’s Farm Flowers (Hardwick) lining the path to a clearing filled with family, friends, and—at the end of the grassy aisle—each other (and our dog, Ella). This is how we remember our wedding day last year. After a very rainy July, the land around us was bursting with green beans, red peppers, purple delphinium, and green hillsides as far as the eye could see.
Our wedding was about our love and commitment to each other, but it was also about our love and commitment to our neighbors, our community. Although we invited friends and family from near and far to celebrate our wedding day, we also knew that a lifelong relationship would require the support of the central Vermont community we have made our home. So we thought one of the best ways to bring that community into our wedding was to offer a menu made up almost exclusively of local food. For us, a commitment to local food is one of our core values, so our wedding was a perfect way to share this value with others.
As those who are already married know, planning a wedding to accommodate all your friends and family is not an easy task to handle. Most of your guests need to eat, drink, and use the bathroom at some point during your wedding day. In addition to these “basics,” most guests will want to sit in chairs at tables and eat off plates using actual silverware. Then there are the other ingredients that contribute to a festive atmosphere, including flowers, music, and other decorations. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day’s details and to lose sight of the big picture.
The fact that our wedding date coincided with peak harvest season made our localvore wedding a realistic goal. Think “mid-August farmers’ market in Vermont” and the word abundance probably comes to mind. Tomatoes ripen almost faster than they can be picked. There are plenty of salad greens. Blueberry bushes are bursting. Mention that you’re in the market for zucchini and gardeners will come with basketfuls of squash to your house. No wonder we picked August 16 as our wedding date!
While we both enjoy cooking, we knew that attempting to coordinate or prepare all the food for our wedding had the potential for an unhappy ending. We needed a caterer. As the planning ensued, everything led us to our favorite Montpelier restaurant, Kismet. At the time, Kismet had been open for only about a year, but knowing the superb quality and the owners’ commitment to using local foods, we didn’t need to be sold.
One of the great features of Kismet’s catering is that you can contribute your own food sources to the menu, whether it be your own salad greens or, as in our case, poultry from a particular farm. Robb is a former vegetarian who now only eats poultry raised by farmers he knows. Fortunately, our wedding site was in Waitsfield, within one mile of our favorite poultry-producing farm, Gaylord Farm.
Thanks to the “Chicken Bill,” our Kismet-catered menu could include chicken from Gaylord Farm. The Chicken Bill, as it’s informally known, passed in the Vermont legislature in 2007 with the help of the advocacy group Rural Vermont, as a reaction to the inability of Hadley Gaylord to sell his uninspected chicken to his neighbor, George Schenk of American Flatbread. The bill allows poultry farmers with 1,000 birds or less to sell directly to consumers, caterers, and restaurants without costly state inspection. In addition to allowing Kismet to buy from Hadley, The Common Man restaurant in Warren, at our request, was able to use Gaylord Farm products for the rehearsal dinner. Our guests were able to taste the difference. We even told them on the directions to our wedding that the farm they were passing on their way to our wedding site was where the day’s chicken would be from.
With the poultry for our dinner secured, Kismet handled everything from there. They prepared a delicious meal that included Vermont Soy tofu and accompaniments of locally harvested vegetables. The cocktail hour cheese spread had full descriptions of where each cheese producer was located. And to top it off, we ended with delicious strawberry rhubarb pie made by Tom Gardner at the Featherbed Inn of Waitsfield, accompanied by Strafford Organic Ice Cream (maple and chocolate). As we write this, nearly a year has passed and friends and family are still commenting on the food.
We also supported the community we love by hiring a local band, the Dave Keller Band, and even a local bartender (Scott Kerner) from The Black Door, a Montpelier bar that we frequent. Sarah’s dress was made by a local seamstress, Ava Bishop. Our rings were local, too, thanks to the delicate craftsmanship of jeweler Tossy Garrett of Storm & Sunrise in Northfield. Barely a day goes by when we do not run into someone connected to our wedding, whether it is Dave Keller with his kids or Scott at his new Montpelier bar, the Three Penny Taproom. Our continued relationship with these people who made our wedding possible is a reminder that a marriage is about more than just two people.
As our anniversary approaches, we are frequently reminded of why we choose to live in Vermont, and why we were married here. We are fortunate to be blessed with the natural abundance of the surrounding working landscape, although we realize it needs support from people like us to maintain its vibrancy. Two comments struck us on our wedding day. One was from our friend Amy, who said, “You two really live your life as you preach.” Another was from our friend Dylan: “You guys made a political statement with your wedding.” Those words resonate with us still. We realize that living this way may be difficult for some but not for us, because this is how we choose to live our life—with friends, family, and community.
Photo: Lavigne Photography www.lavignephoto.com.