Matt Poole at Dinner in the Vineyard

This article first appeared in the Washington Island Observer

Matt Poole of Hotel Washington will be preparing the entree this year for Dinner in the Vineyard, Thursday August 29 on Washington Island. “I don’t always get to be there with guests while they are enjoying their meal,” said Poole. “I’m excited to be able to share a meal, especially at Gathering Ground which captures my vision for Hotel Washington with their goal of sustainability.

“As a business we want to be Island sustainable — that means getting as many of our ingredients fresh and locally sourced as possible. That keeps money circulating in the local economy, which is so important to the long-term health of the farms and employees on the Island.”

Poole left his position at the famed farm-to-table restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California to work toward this vision in Door County. A son of the Midwest, he wanted to see what farm-to-table actually looks like in America’s breadbasket, where there are over 127 million acres of agricultural land, but 75 percent is corn and soybeans-products that only make it to a dinner table after extensive processing.

Dinner in the Vineyard hopes to close the gap between chef, farmer, and diner. By featuring fresh and local ingredients from farms on the Island and peninsula, including Hoot Blossom, Island Edibles, Island Harvest and Folk Tree Farm, the meal will include the culinary creations of many Door County and Island chefs.

“We wanted to do a fundraiser that not only supports Gathering Ground’s mission financially, but through the event itself we are working toward our mission to gather people together to celebrate, learn about and practice sustainable agriculture.” said Russell Rolffs, the organization’s board president.

Gathering Ground’s long-term vision includes building up their internship program to be a “Rural Year.” Like the national program CityYear that helps young people figure out their next steps by providing them with supported internship and work opportunities in cities, Gathering Ground’s vision for Rural Year would be a gap-year

program providing young adults the opportunity to learn about and get hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture, farm-to-table kitchens, and rural living.

There are still a few spots open at the Dinner in the Vineyard table. The event includes a vineyard tour with passed appetizers and drinks, followed by community, family-style five-course meal featuring fresh and local dishes and beverages prepared by local top chefs, breweries and wineries.

At a glance:

Dinner in the Vineyard, Thursday August 29 at 1751 Lake View Road. Tickets can be purchased at doorcountytickets.com or the Saturday farmers market on the Island.