New Farm finds a way to come together

 In Events

The New Farm has found a way to hold its Farms for Change event, hoping people will come together, even though they are apart.
New Farm owners Gillian Flies and Brent Preston are offering up a twist on the popular culinary and concert event held each summer at their Dunedin farm, opting for a interactive online experience later this month.
“The love coming back around this event is great and we’re trying to draw people in. We have this amazing group of people that comes together every year and we don’t want to lose that,” said Flies.
“We’re coming back strong next year, but we don’t want to miss this opportunity to come together.”
Before the pandemic hit, elements of this year’s event were already in place – the chefs were in, Sarah Harmer was booked to headline – and then it suddenly became apparent that with COVID-19 restrictions, the fundraising event which attracts more than 1,000 attendees could not go ahead. In addition, the pandemic hit the restaurants really hard.
Flies said they missed going into the growing season this year without having the event to kick it off.
Over the years the event has raised more than $1 million to support community food centres, beginning with a partnership with The Stop Community Food Centre. The money is used to purchase vegetables from local organic producers, including The New Farm, and get it to those in need.
“And it has been a really challenging year for us, on the farm. A lot of our business is with restaurants and events and we could do any of that,” said Flies. “At the same time that this is happening The Stop has a 38 per cent increase in people trying to access their services, a huge increase in demand for food, and people not being able to afford it.”
“Our sales have been really struck so it would be a positive thing for our farm, but we also couldn’t leave them hanging after 10 years of sending this beautiful food, in the year that they needed it the most.”
She said they reached out to sponsors and partners and found they were in full support of some kind of online event. Recognizing there is some participant fatigue when it comes to watching online performances, the team decided on a live culinary experience.
Acknowledging that at its core, the event is about coming together as a community and eating really good food, and enjoying music, the idea was borne to have participants cook along with long-time participant Richmond Station Chef Carl Heinrich.
Participants will sign up to receive a four-course food box. It will contain charcuterie, and a prepared dessert plus New Farm greens and the ingredients needed to prepare a meal along with Heinrich, who will be broadcast live from the New Farm Kitchen, where he will be hanging out with Flies and Preston. The box will also include beverages – Creemore beer, Neal Brothers de-alcoholised beer, and Dillon’s signature cocktails.
For music, playlists have been created by Sarah Harmer and past performers Sam Roberts, and Paul Langlois of The Tragically Hip.
They have also come up with the idea of a golden ticket, which will result in random boxes being sent out containing additional prizes including footwear from Blundstone, Glerups and gift certificates for local businesses, donated by the Creemore BIA.
The interactive virtual event happens from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, but the video will be available to watch afterwards for those who can’t follow along live. Participants will be encouraged to engage by commenting and sending in photos. The cost is $99 per meal, with the option of adding Farms for Change 2020 – Together but Apart event T-shirts to the order. To purchase, visit For those who cannot participate there is an option to donate online at Donors will also be entered in the golden ticket draw.

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