GRANT PARK, Ill. — Chicago is a top foodie destination, but 43 miles south of downtown, a 103-foot table in Kankakee County offers perhaps the most authentic take on farm-to-table dining.
“We harvest the food the week of dinner, right up until just before dinner,” said Rachael Jones, co-owner of Locavore Farm. “All the food we serve; ingredients and pasteurized meats come from the land.”
A small organic estate located in Grant Park, Locavore Farm hosts a four-hour, “Dine on the Land” experience where guests tour the farm and eat from its bounty while listening to live music.
“We have stories about the ingredients, the rural setting and the farmers, with each dish so that everyone has an intimate knowledge of the food they are experiencing,” Rachael said.
Rachael’s husband, Chris, is responsible for the animals on the property and manages the barbecue trailer, where meat and cornbread are smoked.
“So far I’ve raised about 600 chickens this year,” Chris Jones said. “We raise pigs, goats and sheep. I have a donkey but we don’t eat it. It protects everything else.”
When guests arrive, they are greeted with an amuse-bouche, then head to a bar in a barn for an alcoholic drink. A tour of the farm beds, animal enclosures and accommodation takes place before the start of a multi-course meal in a pasture.
“For a lot of people, it’s a chance to slow down and celebrate the good things together,” Rachael said. “People are looking for an experience in wide open spaces.”
The Joneses were drawn to Kankakee County because of the rural setting and because they wanted more control over the food they ate.
“We initially didn’t like where our food came from and what was sprayed on our food,” Chris said. “So, we decided we had to do our own thing.”
Rachael said eating local is important because it’s fresh, healthy, uses less fossil fuel in transport and boosts the local economy.
“Our dollars stay in the farming community when we grow, buy and consume food in the same proximity,” Rachael explains.
For more information about the Locavore Farm and the experiences it offers, visit locavorefarm.com