Longnook Meadows Farm-to-Table Wedding
In early September 2015, Longnook Meadows Farm in Truro took a break from the usual routine of supplying organic vegetables to local restaurants and their roadside farm stand to host the farm-totable wedding of their youngest daughter Erica Staaterman to Austin Gallagher. On September 12th, white tents decorated the farmhouse yard for dancing and cocktails, and colorful bouquets of zinnias and other fresh cut farm flowers were everywhere. Farmers Dylis and Peter Staaterman grew all the vegetables and flowers for the 160-person wedding on their ten-acre organic farm.
Erica Staaterman spent childhood summers at her family’s farm enjoying outdoor dinners on the back patio with fresh vegetables from their garden. “We would have grilled veggies, corn, and chicken. I basically just wanted to recreate this scene, but on a larger scale for our wedding,” she explains. The family worked with Laura Davis of Cosmos Catering to design, redesign, and update the menu around the farm’s late summer crops.
Farm-to-table weddings have grown in popularity along with the farm-to-table movement and a collective concern and consciousness about the food we eat and where that food comes from. The bounty of Cape Cod’s waters and farms and beauty of its scenery make it the perfect place for such an event. Davis has catered many events that feature the fresh, local seafood that people flock to Cape Cod for, and she has worked with fresh produce from farms including Longnook Meadows at other events and fundraisers, but the process of designing the wedding menu around the seasonal crop of one farm was special and rewarding for her. Davis says, “In a globalized world of convenience and speed, where anything and everything is just a click away, it is humbling and grounding to eat food grown in the very soil we stand on, which has been picked and prepared by the hands of our community.”
Ten years ago Dylis and Peter Staaterman retired from careers as a teacher and entrepreneur and moved into their renovated and winterized farmhouse at Longnook Meadows Farm full time. They reopened the gardens across the street, eventually building a 96-foot greenhouse, and began new careers as farmers. The Staatermans farm two acres of their ten-acre property, and in addition to vegetables and flowers they have beehives for honey and rent out two seasonal cottages as another source of income.
The farm has been in Dylis’s family for three generations since her father purchased 30 acres from Thomas Paine in 1941. The family has a deep affection for and long history with the farm; Dylis and her three daughters each took their first steps in the original farmhouse.
Erica Staaterman says, “I wanted [our wedding] to be very personal and meaningful and this was the best possible venue—really the only one we considered. The opportunity to make it farm to table and showcase my parents’ hard work was a big factor as well.”
Since the bride and groom are both marine scientists who conscientiously choose not to eat seafood, they made the decision to only serve meat and a limited number of oysters at their wedding. “Even though we knew some guests may expect to have seafood at a Cape Cod wedding, we knew that the guests who know us well would understand this choice,” says Staaterman. Davis sources oysters from Slurp-Us in South Wellfleet and Cape Tip Seafood in Provincetown.
A mix of roasted, grilled, and fresh beets, carrots, zucchini, and potatoes were featured on the menu as crudité. Other hors d’oeuvres included carrot and ginger soup, bruschetta, Turkish zucchini and feta cakes, and breaded summer eggplant wheels, all made with farm ingredients.
Tomatoes featured heavily, as they are the biggest crop grown at Longnook Meadows Farm. The wide variety of heirloom and specialty tomatoes includes sun golds, Geronimos, mortgage lifters, Cherokee purples, Brandywines, and black krims. The farm yields about 9000 pounds of tomatoes each year from indeterminate plants, which fill the greenhouse to the roof by late summer.
Davis says, “The tomatoes were perfect summer tomatoes. It was fun for [the catering staff ] and I believe for the guests to have such a variety of tomatoes.”
The farm’s fresh onions, leeks, and twenty-four varieties of garlic were all incorporated into the wedding appetizers and entrées as well. Many of the vegetables were simply grilled to show off their colorful beauty. Platters of grilled carrots, leeks, beets, eggplants, and zucchini and the farm’s roasted fingerling potatoes were served family-style on each table.
Longnook Meadows Farm has evolved over the years, and the Staatermans have adapted their techniques to produce the best yields and navigate all the curve balls and “what ifs” that come along with farming, such as chickweed infestations, extreme temperatures, and hive beetles. Before the wedding they lost a third of their tomato crop to black mold in the soil, and this year they lost a quarter of the tomato plants to a spring freeze. They planted extra vegetables and flowers to supply the wedding, but Dylis said it was stressful leading up to the event, wondering if the crops would be ripe, but not overripe, and they felt bad about not being able to supply their restaurants or farm stand customers for ten days prior to the festivities. Typically the restaurants they work with—including Blackfish, Ceraldi, and Mac’s—happily purchase and use each day’s harvest, so growing large quantities for one specific date posed new and different challenges for the Staatermans.
Some crops, such as the potatoes, could be harvested weeks ahead of time, but most of the vegetables were picked and delivered to Cosmos Catering the morning of the wedding so they would be at their freshest. When she heard that the basil had not been delivered, Dylis was out in the field harvesting pounds of it with her hair done and her dress on, hours before the wedding. Cosmos Catering used the fresh herb to make Caprese salads and a nut-free pesto sauce for the meat, as well as the vegetarian entrée of pesto-crusted mushroom kabobs.
The wedding was full of personal touches. The bride and groom’s two brothers-in-law officiated the ceremony, their nieces served as flower girls, guests found their place cards on seed packets, and bridesmaids received gifts of Longnook Meadows Farm honey. The desserts included a carrot cake made by the bride’s half-sister and cupcakes made by Cosmos Catering. And the evening evolved into the “epic dance party” the bride and groom wanted.
The wedding day was sunny and beautiful. Erica Staaterman describes it as “a spectacular day full of love, laughter, and my favorite people; truly magical!” Davis added that, “The farmers, Cosmos Catering, and the bride and groom were all proud of the menu we designed together and the food that we served the guests. The guest knew how special the food, the menu, and, most importantly, the evening was—all grown and made with love.”
Despite the interest in farm to table, it is more expensive to source food from small independent farms and fisheries, and the extra costs can be prohibitive for those hosting a party or event for a hundred or more people. There are also limited meat sources on Cape Cod, but Davis uses Truro chicken whenever she has the opportunity and buys lower cost seasonal ingredients from the greater New England area through food purveyors when budgets do not allow her to source all of the ingredients directly from a Cape Cod farm.
Although the farm-to-table movement on Cape Cod is clearly growing, Davis says, “it doesn’t feel like its quite there yet.” She looks forward to designing her menus around more of the Cape’s abundant edibles as it continues to flourish. Cosmos Catering is currently working with another local farmer to plan their daughter’s bat mitzvah menu based on what that farm and the neighboring farm will have available. The farmer is planting her lettuce and radishes now in preparation for the day of the event.
Crudité with fresh, roasted and grilled seasonal vegetables—beets, carrots, zucchini, and baby potatoes
Grilled pita bread and hummus
Carrot and ginger soup
Bruschetta with pesto, sungold tomatoes, and garlic
Quesadilla triangles with grilled chicken, cheddar, and farm fresh salsa
Turkish-style summer zucchini and feta cakes with cucumber riata
Breaded Sicilian eggplant wheels with caramelized sweet onions, red peppers, and goat cheese
Wellfleet Oysters on the half shell with cocktail sauce and lemon
Sliced heirloom tomatoes, Narragansett mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil
Assorted Iggy’s artisanal breads with sweet cream butter
Grilled beef tenderloin
Pesto-crusted mixed mushroom kabobs
Assorted seasonal grilled and roasted vegetable platter with beets, carrots, eggplant, leeks, and zucchini
Roasted heirloom fingerling potatoes
Sauces for grilled meats: chipotle mayo, pesto olive oil, roasted garlic dip
Beanstock Coffee organic free trade coffee, regular and decaf, assorted tea