A community dinner

October 17, 2017

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Elizabeth LaDuca  |  Massachusetts  |  elizabethladuca.com

“Elizabeth LaDuca, a fine art film photographer, recently launched a small, community effort to highlight the bounty of natural resources within New England, called Twenty To Table. Designed to inspire people to source their groceries from farmers, fisherman, makers and growers that work within a 20-mile radius of their home Twenty to Table will exist as an organic social media campaign where participants can share their experience using #twentytotablechallenge.

The larger mission is rooted in giving those farms and pastures the economic support needed to remain fruitful and undeveloped by high-rises and shopping centers.

To help illustrate this in practice, Elizabeth teamed up with chef Michelle Milford of Uncommon Feasts and Ashley Brooks, the owner of Cause Creative, a creative gathering space, for a community dinner in June. Together, they wanted to show that creating a beautiful, seasonal dinner party or everyday meal can be sourced locally, prepared simply and also remain affordable.

Elizabeth and Michelle spent an afternoon sourcing ingredients at a farmer’s market just a few miles from Cause, to create a seasonal menu in preparation for an intimate community dinner later that evening at Cause Creative. Guests enjoyed a distinctly flavorful and fresh 3-course meal that was sourced and prepared from farmers and growers in their backyard, for under $17 dollars per person.

A few thoughts from the partners:

From Elizabeth… “There have been so many stories and pieces to the “eating local” movement, and it’s an exciting time to encourage others to think outside the grocery store. For my husband and I, trying to source all of our food from makers and growers located within 20 miles of home has been an experiment in deepening community ties and enriching our day-to-day lives. It’s a simple exercise, and I’ve found it to have a profound impact on our sense of place.

I’m a film photographer, which has an important weight on the storytelling aspect of this project. It’s a slow, deliberate way to document the world, and to me, absolutely the most truthful in terms of revealing the natural beauty in color and light. In photographing this story, I was so caught up in the experience of enjoying the sourcing, preparation and finally the celebration, that the documentation came as an organic extension of living in the moment.”

From Michelle: “This community dinner perfectly reflects my style and philosophy about food and cooking. We sourced every ingredient for our dinner at one market. I had an idea in mind for the menu but had to remain flexible, especially after talking with the farmers at the market. Because of the cool Spring, things were off to a slow start. I used every part of the ingredient to ensure minimal waste. Once you speak with farmers and know the enormous amount of effort it takes to grow and harvest it becomes really hard to throw anything away.”

From Ashley: “Cause Creative is a small creative cooperative space in Essex, Ma that hosts curated pop-up events and workshops that rally behind all things beautiful and simple, handcrafted, ethically produced, and socially conscious. Cause Creative aims to happily nudge and reshape our mindsets about the things we buy and the time we spend, encouraging to do both wherever there is true value and worth. The Twenty To Table project felt so true to our collective missions and we hope it will inspire others to support their local community as well.”

[Catering] Michelle Milford of Uncommon Feasts
[Venue] Cause Creative
[Rentals] PEAK Event Services
[Florals] Aster B Flower




  1. Kathleen Francis says:

    Wonderful article!

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