Eagle Valley Land Trust’s Farm to Fork Picnic successfully combines pandemic safety and eco-friendly dinner | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley Land Trust’s Farm to Fork Picnic successfully combines pandemic safety and eco-friendly dinner

Instead of hosting a large fundraiser this year, the Eagle Valley Land Trust was able to improvise and sold carefully curated picnic basket coolers filled with delicious food and drinks. The idea was to “share a meal on our shared lands.”
Tricia Swenson | tswenson@vaildaily.com

If you enjoy walking the dog (or dogs) through the Eagle River Preserve in Edwards, hiking to the East Vail Waterfall or biking the West Avon Preserve, then thank the Eagle Valley Land Trust. This nonprofit organization has been around since 1981 and its mission is to protect the land and preserve the valley’s scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitats and heritage.

Protecting areas for future generations costs money, and the Eagle Valley Land Trust would normally be hosting the Farm to Table Gala and Garden to Glass Cocktail contest this month, but due to the pandemic, plans to host this yearly fundraiser changed in March.

“It was hard because last spring we really didn’t know what our event date in August was going to look like, so we figured that we needed an event that had enough flexibility that it could work in any scenario,” said Bergen Tjossem, deputy director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

The idea of having a picnic you could take anywhere — to a park, a trail, or even your own backyard — became a reality thanks to a few dedicated and passionate board members. The concept includes an insulated cooler bag that is either on rollers or has a shoulder strap is filled with not only delicious food but also curated items that can be used again like a cutting board and knife and reusable containers to create more picnics in the future.

The picnic baskets are filled with a choice from three menus designed by long-time locals Eric Berg, chef and owner of Vail Catering Concepts, and chef Zak Stone. Salads are comprised of fresh produce including tomatoes, cucumbers and basil donated by Knapp Ranch. Entrees include seared tuna, airline chicken breast with the chimichurri sauce or a grilled chicken sandwich.

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The wine is donated by Dobbes Family Estate and Wine By Joe, and the beer is donated by Bonfire Brewery. Pair all that with a bright-colored checkered tablecloth and napkins and the picnic is ready to go anywhere.

“The menus for each of the basket styles were so above and beyond what anybody would consider a picnic-style meal. This is gala-quality food. These two chefs set a new bar for picnic cuisine,” Tjossem said. 

The Farm to Fork proceeds go directly to Eagle Valley Land Trust’s mission to protect the lands that the community depends on. It will help protect new lands, steward existing conserved land, and help them serve the community. 

Even as events were being canceled across the world last spring, title sponsors Alpine Bank and American Gypsum continued to stay on and support the mission.  

“We could never have anticipated such a positive response. The baskets completely sold out and people purchased baskets to donate to other organizations and people doing important work in our community like teachers and frontline healthcare workers,” Tjossem said. “We can’t thank our sponsors and everyone who supported us enough for helping us out and giving us an opportunity to improvise during a tough time.”

To learn more about the Eagle Valley Land Trust, go to evlt.org.

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