Workshop Announcement

Step by Step, Row by Row:
How to Start Your Own Farm Dinner Business

Date:    Saturday, May 5 & Sunday, May 6, 2012, 9 AM to 5 PM
Cost:     $575 per attendee, including lunches and printed workshop manual
Place:   Cure Organic Farm, Boulder, Colorado

This 2-day workshop is intended for cooks, chefs, artists and artisans, farmers, food lovers and anyone who feels inspired by seasonal, locally grown foods—and mobile kitchens. Over the course of two days, Veronica Volny, founder of Meadow Lark Farm Dinners, and Bill Young, licensed contractor and builder of Meadow Lark's school-bus-turned-kitchen, will present everything you need to know to get your own farm dinner business off the ground in your community.

Background:

When a few friends and I first thought to stage a series of farm dinners in and around Boulder, Colorado, we ventured into unfamiliar territory: although we knew what sort of food we wanted to cook, and just how we were going to set our table in the field, we had no idea how to get a kitchen to the farms, or what steps to take to turn this venture into a legitimate, self-sustaining business.

We quickly learned a great deal about LLCs and EINs, liquor laws and public health licensing. And thank goodness we met Bill Young, who taught us a thing or two about kilowatts and amperage. In his capable hands, our bus was transformed into our dream kitchen on wheels, filled with stainless steel work surfaces, refrigeration, hot & cold water, loads of storage space, and two long rows of windows that would soon look out over neat rows of crops.

After four seasons of preparing dinners in the field—and continued guidance from Bill—Meadow Lark Farm Dinners have become quite popular along Colorado's Front Range. Last summer, demand for reservations was so great that we had switch to a lottery system for assigning seats! Getting to know our food community, and helping to bring our friends and neighbors out to the farms to walk through the fields and take a seat at the table with our hosts—the farmers—has been immensely rewarding.

There's no better teacher than first-hand experience. Bringing a kitchen on wheels to a secluded farm to prepare a five course dinner for forty guests will invariably present innumerable unforeseen challenges. By responding to these situations and working toward better solutions, our operations have become much more refined and streamlined. These improvements have allowed us to focus our efforts and creativity on the task we love most: cooking for our guests, and creating, for everyone, a memorable evening on the farm.

We feel fortunate to have been part of a growing awareness and appreciation of locally sourced, sustainably grown foods. Farm dinners and other opportunities to taste the seasons and visit local farms have been taking shape around the country. And we've been fielding more and more inquiries about getting businesses like ours started.

In response to such queries, Bill Young and I have gathered our experience and knowledge into a 2-day workshop for anyone interested in jumping in and bringing farm dinners to their community. We'll discuss mobile kitchen options and how to go about converting your vehicle of choice into your dream kitchen; all the equipment you'll need to stage your own farm dinners; pitfalls and challenges that present themselves as you prepare to receive your guests on a secluded farm. We'll walk you through the steps of creating your own business, from getting your paperwork in order to getting the word out. And we'll show you our numbers: what it will take to get up and running, and what to expect once you are underway.

Although this workshop will emphasize mobile platforms for cooking and hosting dinners, past workshop attendees have found the material covered helpful for starting up stationary food-related businesses as well.

Please join us for this 2-day workshop dedicated to the ins & outs of farm dinners. We're excited to share our knowledge and experience with you, and help you get your farm dinner business off the ground.

We look forward to working with you.

Veronica Volny
Meadow Lark Farm Dinners

 

Workshop Schedule:

Saturday, May 5, 2012 - 9 AM to 5 PM

Introduction to Farm Dinners

        Overview of yearly, weekly and daily schedules and activities, with slides         from previous Meadow Lark Farm Dinner seasons.

Your New Best Friend: The Public Health Department

        Following your Public Health Department's guidelines—and passing your         inspection!

Setting Up Your Kitchen

  • Choosing a Platform: Requirements for temporary kitchens, licensed on-site kitchens, and mobile kitchens.
  • Selecting a Vehicle for Mobile Kitchen Options: School bus, food truck or trailer—pros, cons and considerations.
  • Building your Dream Kitchen on Wheels: Interior layout design and construction; equipment selection and placement.

~ On-site Lunch ~

Equipment

        An almost exhaustive list of everything you'll need to successfully stage your         farm dinners, with thoughts on upkeep and storage.

On The Farm

        Finding farms that are appropriate for your dinners; getting in & out, and         staging a successful dinner without ticking off your hosts—the farmers!

Meet Bella

        A 'tour' of Meadow Lark's school-bus-turned-kitchen.

Cast Call

        Assembling your farm dinner team: employees, interns, chefs and         sommeliers, and how to pay them.

 

Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 9 AM to 5 PM

Keeping It Legal

  • Acquiring insurance for your equipment and business.
  • Operating under your local Public Health Department's guidelines.
  • Understanding your state's liquor laws, and your options for serving alcohol.

Setting Up Your Business

  • LLC, EIN and other acronyms you should know about, and licenses you need to obtain.
  • Designing and setting up your website and social media.
  • Getting the word out: advertising your farm dinners.

Reservations & Payment

  • Taking reservations and payments; some thoughts on cancellation and refund policies.
  • Communicating with your guests: keeping everyone in the loop.

From the Farmers' Perspective

        Bringing the circus onto their land: a presentation about hosting farm dinners         by Anne & Paul Cure.

~ On-site Lunch ~

The Numbers

  • Set-Up Expenses: A close look at Meadow Lark's capital investments.
  • Operating Expenses: your daily, weekly and yearly operating costs; maintenance and repairs; what you can charge your guests; and how to make your farm dinner business sustainable.
  • Professional Fees: whose help do you need?

More Numbers

        Amps, watts, gallons and flow rates: making sure your systems work.

Relationships

        Final thoughts on what it's really all about....

 

Optional Sunday Night Dinner at The Kitchen

If you staying in town through Sunday night, consider joining Bill & Veronica and other workshop attendees for more farm dinner conversation at The Kitchen's community table for a prix fixe, family-style dinner. The cost will be around $35 per person, excluding tax, gratuity and beverages, to be paid individually at the restaurant. (This dinner is optional and is not included in the cost of the workshop. You are welcome to bring a guest to dinner.)

 

Registration:

Seats at the May workshop are still available.

Please contact us directly at info@farmdinners.com if you are interested in participating in the upcoming workshop.

 


 


Local Resources:

Transportation

For transportation to Boulder from Denver International Airport:

Options include car rental, shuttle service, and a pretty convenient and reasonably priced bus service.

Boulder Super Shuttle
RTD Bus Service between Boulder & DIA

Cure Organic Farm is located about six miles east of downtown Boulder. Workshop attendees are responsible for their own transportation to and from the workshop. We'll be a happy to facilitate communication among attendees in order to arrange for ride sharing.

Hotel Accommodations

We've arranged for discounted rates at several Boulder hotels for workshop attendees. For all hotels below, except for the Millenium, make reservations by phone and request the Meadow Lark Farm Dinner Workshop rate. For reservations at the Millenium Hotel Harvest House, reserve your workshop rate through the link below.

St. Julien Hotel
Hotel Boulderado
Residence Inn Marriott (reserve by April 20 to qualify for special rates)
Millenium Hotel Harvest House

The following motels are inexpensive, relative to other Boulder options, and conveniently located within a walk along the creek from downtown. They do not have a special rate for attendees, but you might consider them anyway.

Silver Saddle Motel
Foot of the Mountain Motel

Restaurants

Dine with friends of Meadow Lark during your stay:

Cafe Aion
The Kitchen Café, including [Upstairs] and [Next Door]

We hope you enjoy your stay in Boulder!


If you have any questions about the workshop, please send us an email at info@farmdinners.com. We look forward to meeting you.


Farm Dinners LLC. © 2012. All rights reserved.