Feature Story - Potluck & Movie in the Barn

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by Chris Wilbeck
September 2009


We love the opportunity to entertain and share our Farmhouse Life surroundings with others.  So, when we heard that our Greene County neighbor, George Naylor, was in the new film FRESH about sustainable agriculture and local foods and that we could obtain the license to show it, we said, "Let's do it.  And, let's show it in the barn!"

Together with Chris Henning of Prairie Skye Productions (Cooper) and George Naylor (Churdan), we hosted a private movie screening and potluck for friends and neighbors on Saturday, September 12.  Nearly 100 people from near and far crowded our big white barn to watch the movie projected on a 10 ft wide screen hung inside.   

For the potluck, we provided the main course and dessert.  The main entree was a meatball dish prepared by Henning with beef from Just-A-Mere Farm (Chris & Nicole Schilling of Jefferson) and tomatoes from Naylor's garden.  She also made an old-fashioned baked crisp dessert with Naylor's just-picked and just-peeled apples.   We served Deal's Orchard apple cider and Greene Bean Coffee, both produced in nearby Jefferson.  To tie into the theme of the movie, we asked guests to bring side dishes prepared with fresh ingredients from their garden or local farmer's market and their own plates and silverware (to reduce waste).  Kevin's mom, Jan Wilbeck, and neighbors Carol and Allan Sieck, Nicole Friess-Schilling, Jane Alexander and Dayle Erickson pitched in to help us ensure that the evening went off without a hitch.

Guests arrived with a variety of scrumptious dishes that were set out on the 16 ft long banquet table Kevin built using old barn boards for the top and a cattle feed bunker for the base.  A 4 ft tall golden rod flower arrangement anchored the center.  Side tables were flanked with prairie flower bouquets displayed in glass vases housed in old egg gathering baskets.  Guests chatted and ate at tables clothed in red-and-white checks.  After dinner and before the movie, Kevin led our visitors on a tour of Camp Coyote and The Pool Bin and shared some of our plans for our proposed opening (next year?). 

After the movie, we held a Q&A session led by farmers knowledgeable about sustainable agriculture practices and policies.  Jerry Peckumn, Nick Foster and George Naylor were the local experts on the panel.  Francis Thicke, a dairy farmer and soil fertility expert from Fairfield IA, joined them.  Chris Henning moderated the lively and informative discussion.  And, though not touted as a political event, Thicke fielded some political questions from audience members interested to hear his agricultural philosophy - given that he had just announced earlier that week his candidacy for Iowa Secretary of AgricultureClick here to read the bios of our discussion leaders.

The evening was just perfect for a potluck and movie in the barn.  Not too hot.  Not too cold.  Now that the barn is all spiffied up, we think we need to host a few more neighborly gatherings!  For now, we'll share some photos of the event below.

Thanks to all who attended and made it such a fun event!

As described on the movie's website, FRESH is a documentary film that "celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business leaders across America who are reinventing our food system.  Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for the future of our food and our planet."  Read more at http://freshthemovie.com/.

As guests sign in, they are greeted by Carol Sieck (Rippey) and Jan Wilbeck (Orange City).

Freshly picked prairie flowers adorn the serving tables.

Rich Osborne (Jefferson) stands next to his company's Greene Bean Coffee.

Neighbor and event helper Allan Sieck (Rippey) discusses last minute details with the greeters (left). 
Dayle Erickson (Jefferson) helps manage parking in our north pasture (right).

The 16 ft long banquet table is filled with homemade side dishes featuring fresh local ingredients.

The lineup for food ...


Enjoying the feast.

Mingling inside and out ...

Event helpers Carol Sieck (Rippey) and Nicole Friess-Schilling (Jefferson).
Guests Nicole and James Timmons (Jefferson).

Before the movie, Kevin takes some guests out on the hay wagon for a tour of Camp Coyote.

Kevin gets the projector ready for the movie's premier.

The movie in the barn ...

The audience discusses the movie's message with George Naylor (left) ...

Francis Thicke (left) ...

and Nick Foster (left), Jerry Peckumn (center) and Chris Henning (right).

Posing after the event:
The Q&A discussion leaders (left to right): 
Chris Henning, George Naylor, Francis Thicke, Jerry Peckumn, Nick Foster.

Your Greene County Iowa FRESH event coordinators (left to right):
Kevin & Chris Wilbeck, Chris Henning, George Naylor.

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For more information, call Chris Wilbeck at 515-229-6988.