While driving along Route 360 in Northumberland County, you will venture upon a big red barn with a large windmill sitting out front, spinning in the wind. The building itself may not seem like much, but the educational value throughout the building and the dedication that has gone into the creation of this museum is immeasurable. One of the most popular tickets around the Northern Neck is for The Northern Neck Farm Museum’s Farm to Fork Dinner. The dinner is designed to highlight eating locally while supporting area farmers, winemakers, chefs and artisans and to inspire and bring neighbors together.
The Farm Museums’ mission is simple; they want diners to connect with not only those who helped produce their meal but also with the land. The Farm to Fork dinners allow community members to come and experience fresh, locally grown food and wine as well as learn about the processes the local farmers go through to raise the food and even to how the local chefs prepare the ingredients.
When you arrive at the dinner, you will be met with a wide open field, the soft angle of the sun, and a breath of fresh air. Ironically, these three simple ingredients that greet you are the same ingredients that have helped to prepare the foods that you will enjoy. The Farm to Fork dinner serves its guests some of the freshest food imaginable. With ingredients in hand, picked at the point of perfection from local farms the day before, a chef arrives and begins to prepare and cook the meal in the middle of the museum’s cornfield. The guests start out being served appetizers and cocktails inside of the barn with a tour of the museum. Following their tour, the guests make their way down a candlelit path to the awaiting harvest tables. The table décor is simple yet inviting with crisp, white linens topping the dining tables, mason jars filled with fresh cut wildflowers, and a dining location without any boundaries or walls.
Once seated, the guests are served a gourmet three course meal prepared using the thoughtfully selected local ingredients. Throughout each course the farmer or artisan, for that course, is given the chance to speak to the guests about why they are passionate about farming and the food that they produce. You get a firsthand perspective from someone who loves to do what they do and enjoys sharing their bounty with their neighbors. It is extraordinary that you are seated with the man that grew your asparagus, the woman that raised the chicken you are eating, or the family that raised the goats that made the cheese on your plate. This is a unique opportunity for all parties involved and they share in the same mindset that if there were no farms, there would be no food.
Through this dinner, relationships are made and in the future, you may choose to find and purchase many of these items from those who participated in the dinner or another local farmer. The dinners are especially important to the mission of this museum in that one of the main goals is to educate people about the importance of farming, sustainability and for the upcoming generations to understand what it should mean to them and their livelihoods.
The museum has previously hosted two successful sold out dinners and is currently planning their Fall Farm to Fork Harvest dinner for Saturday October 8th. In the fall, guests will be served nestled amongst the museum’s corn maze and pumpkin patch with many new surprises. An incredible meal will be prepared by the extremely talented Chef Nate Myers of the popular restaurant Nate’s Trick Dog Café in Irvington and is sure to be a treat for all in attendance.
The Northern Neck Farm Museum, NNFM, was established in May 2008 by Luther Welch, a local farmer from the Northern Neck. The museum is dedicated to creating a center devoted to preserving and sharing the history of farming and for the people of the Northern Neck and beyond to learn about the importance of agriculture in the region. Inside the museum you will find an abundance of information about farming on the Northern Neck.
The farm museum exists now in a temporary building until the monies needed for the permanent establishment can be raised. Any questions about how you can help contribute to the Northern Neck Farm Museum or to purchase tickets for this year’s fall Farm to Fork reserved ticket dinner ($50 per person—limited number available); please call (804) 761-5952. Be sure to stop by this fall and visit the corn maze and pumpkin patch for some great family fun! In the museum’s gift shop is the book, The Boy and the Mule, a collection of stories about growing up on the Northern Neck by Luther Welch. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the museum’s building fund.
The museum is open to the public May through October on Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM and on Sunday from 1 PM to 4 PM. Admission is $2.00 per Adult, $1.00 for ages 6–18, and free for those six and under. You can find the museum at 12705 Northumberland Highway (Route 360) two miles west of Burgess and just five miles east of Heathsville. Visit our website at http://thefarmmuseum.org.