Four years ago, farm dinners were an emerging trend. The idea of the celebrity farmer was still a glimmer in the foodie eye, and chef-owned farms were a novelty. Several harvests later, a majority of local farms host foodie events, and farm dinners have become one of the hottest tickets in town.
In fact, Meadow Lark Farm Dinners is one of the hardest Boulder County reservations to get. With no celebrity chefs, no fixed location and no more than 36 diners a night. It’s just a team of experienced and talented chefs, former farmers, sommeliers, academics, and an old-school bus named Bella, which serves as a kitchen.
“We fantasized about cooking dinners out in farms, stepping out into the farms and seeing what the produce looks like when it is still in the ground,” said Lark Meadow owner Veronica Volny. “But it was the school bus that brought us all together.”
In 2008, Volny, her husband Aaron Hirsh and friends China Tresemer and Nate Ready purchased Bella after a 13-year career with a school district in Indianapolis, retrofitted her into an operational kitchen, and began working with local farms to create dinners in the fields and pastures of Boulder County.
This summer, Meadow Lark will host dinners twice a week, hopping from one farm to the next from June through September. Thirty-six seats are open for diners (two more are saved for the farmers) at one long table for a feast paired with wines, often organic or biodynamic. They work with the farmers to plan their menus around what’s in season, what the farm has available and what’s delicious.
“That’s something exciting: No two dinners are alike. The season moves forward and changes, and the crops change, and the farms have different crop lists,” Volny said. “And they offer a different feeling. Our guest list is totally different, so every dinner is really unique. When we look back, some have been picture perfect and others were really stressful at times, like having to move everyone into a barn because of rain. Putting 38 people in a field, you never know how it will work out, but you find some beautiful surprises.”
Volny calls it a “fortunate coincidence” that she and her husband and their two friends developed Meadow Lark when they did—just as farm dinners found their following. But she acknowledges there is a bitter-sweetness to being popular.
“We started to sell out right away, but the demand is increasing all the time,” she said. “It’s very painful for me. When we opened reservations for June, they were filled so fast. It’s really humbling. It’s wonderful, but it pains me that I have to turn people away. …The number of farm dinner opportunities has grown. There are so many other places doing them. As more opportunities arise, you’d think you’d see a decline, but there are more and more people who want to come.”
Want to go? Here is a list of upcoming farm dinners:
June 24 Terroir at Colorado’s Best Beef, Boulder. terroir-restaurant.com
June 25 ZOLO chef Brett Smith and team at Isabelle Farm. isabellefarm.com/special-events/
July 5 Meadow Lark at Aspen Moon Farm, Hygiene. farmdinners.com
July 7 Meadow Lark at Red Wagon Organic Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
July 8 Terroir’s 5th Annual “Pigs and Pinot” at farm TBD. terroir-restaurant.com
July 12 Meadow Lark at Cure Organic, Boulder. farmdinners.com
July 14 Meadow Lark at Berry Patch Farms, Brighton. farmdinners.com
July 19 Meadow Lark at Lyons Farmette, Lyons. farmdinners.com
July 21 Meadow Lark at Lykin’s Gulch Farm, Longmont. farmdinners.com
July 22 Terroir at Aspen Moon Farm, Hygiene. terroir-restaurant.com
July 24 Bradford Heap Restaurants at the Lyons Farmette, Lyons.http://LyonsFarmette.com
July 26 Meadow Lark at Munson Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
July 31 Outstanding in the Field Dinner, Oak at Fourteenth head chef Steven Redzikowski and team at Isabelle Farm, Lafayette. isabellefarm.com/special-events/
Aug. 3 Meadow Lark at Cure Organic Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
Aug. 5 Meadow Lark at Oxford Gardens, Niwot. farmdinners.com
Aug. 10 Meadow Lark at Pachamama Farm, Longmont. farmdinners.com
Aug. 12 Meadow Lark at Red Wagon Organic Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
Aug. 12 Terroir at Aspen Moon Farm, Hygiene. terroir-restaurant.com
Aug. 19 Meadow Lark at Munson Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
Aug. 26 Meadow Lark at Aspen Moon Farm, Hygiene. farmdinners.com
Aug. 27 ZOLO chef Brett Smith and team at Isabelle Farm, Lafayette. isabellefarm.com/special-events/
Aug. 30 Meadow Lark at Berry Patch Farms, Brighton. farmdinners.com
Sept. 1 Meadow Lark at Cure Organic Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
Sept. 2 Terroir at Jack Rabbit Hill Winery, Hotchkiss. terroir-restaurant.com
Sept. 7 Meadow Lark at Lyons Farmette, Lyons. farmdinners.com
Sept. 9 Meadow Lark at Munson Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
Sept. 14 Meadow Lark at Lykin’s Gulch Farm, Longmont. farmdinners.com
Sept. 15 GROWE Foundation Fundraiser Farm Dinner with Jax Fish House team and Isabelle Farm at the farm at Thomas Open Space, Lafayette. isabellefarm.com/special-events
Sept. 16 Terroir at Aspen Moon Farm, Hygiene. terroir-restaurant.com
Sept. 16 Meadow Lark at Red Wagon Organic Farm, Boulder. farmdinners.com
Sept. 18 Bradford Heap Restaurants at the Lyons Farmette, Lyons. http://LyonsFarmette.com