Location: Ranch Le Montcel, West Department
Before I can get to the good part of this event, there are some positive critiques I’d like to share so that the next event may be even more successful.
- Have the actual location listed on the Facebook invite. It just said Kenscoff, Dourette and I had no idea where to go. I tried calling the individuals who were hosting the event and could not reach anyone.Thankfully someone heard my cry for help and responded to my post just in time.Thank you kind stranger 🙂
- Consider having car meetups. Ranch Le Montcel is VERY far from downtown Port-au-Prince which I understand was done on purpose. Away from the hectic ambiance to enjoy the quietude of the mountains. But for 1st timers the way there can be quite a challenge. Thank goodness for ‘Human GPS’ AKA the kind people of Kenscoff who kept telling us to ‘kontinye tou dwat’ (go straight) on a sinuous road. One even offered to take us there with his motorcycle. How loving are Haitian people!It would have been helpful to be able to meet other drivers at a chosen spot and follow the road together in our separate cars. I did see a bus full of people so I’m assuming carpooling was available, which was a GREAT alternative. And a far better option.
- Have food tags for each dish. Definitely helpful for those with dietary restrictions and a great educative visual for all.
I fell in love with the idea of Farm to Table when I saw an article about it on http://www.lenational.ht . I knew I had to be there. My curiosity had been awakened and I had to find out more about how far, how deep the concept could go. I had a thousand questions but zero expectations. My plan was to go, soak up the atmosphere and in the future perpetuate that energy by having a similar event on our own farm at Mirebalais.
The drive up the mountains is always a rewarding experience in itself. The view is amazing, the air is so pure and the silence is …everything. I needed that silence so badly! I don’t know what’s going on these days but the roosters don’t wait for dawn to crow anymore. They do it ALL throughout the night. It’s quite creepy… O_O
But I digress, at last we found the Ranch and entered the promised land where animals strike a pose as you take their pictures. Just hilarious.
Ranch Le Montcel is a modest farm with crops like cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes (first time hearing of those), wild berries, red cabbage, cauliflower and others. They have cool attractions for the children like slides, swings, trampoline and horseback riding. It’s a great place for a family outdoor-sy day.
We were greeted with such warmth by Annie Melissa Etienne, one of the hosts, and before we knew it a cup of cranberry juice magically appeared in our hands and she was gently urging us to indulge. The appetizers were quite flavorsome. My favorites were the Chef’s interpretation of the soup joumou paired with celery sticks and the olive bruschetta. It was a true pleasure meeting Chef Destinoble, very humble and down-to-earth guy.
After a nice walk around the ranch and a short meditation with Ama Makeda, dinner was served and approximately 120 persons joined the table. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many vegetarian options: plantain and chick pea thingy, eggplant thingy, red cabbage thingy, corn thingy, breadfruit gratinée, arugula mix, watercress mix, tomato mix, carrot thingy, cucumber thingy and djondjon (mushroom) rice, pasta thingy, curried unknown root vegetable thingy and pikliz.
Not featured on my plate: white rice, lalo, fish, porc, chiken, sausages and the likes.
The food was … different. And… interesting. I sincerely applaud the Chefs’ desire to bring improved versions of what Haitians commonly eat at parties. I liked that I could taste the liveliness of each vegetables, they were kept closer to their raw state rather than being overly cooked.
I left shortly after eating dinner; full and yet empty. That was it? … Had I driven almost 2 hours for an average meal? Was it worth fifty five American dollars? Why is eating locally so expensive? How is this supposed to convince people to do so? What message did they want me, as a guest, to take away from this event? What new knowledge did I gain from this? Was this just another excuse to get the bourgeoisie of Haiti to have a new event to rave about? Am I being too harsh? I seriously ponder on all these questions.
I left puzzled by the motives of an event with so much potential but not enough reach. Maybe I lied to myself by saying I had no expectations. Honestly, I was hoping to learn a little about personal farming and how I could, as an individual, help this country become more sustainable, or even meet the farmers who made this event possible , learn more about the farming process and perhaps even walk away with a few seeds and plants that I could grow in my own backyard. I mean, aside from eating this meal, that I could have gotten at a buffet at Le Plaza in downtown Port-au-Prince for half the price, what makes the concept of FARM TO TABLE valuable to me?
I will say however, that a seed WAS planted in me that Sunday evening: the fervent desire to start taking more practical steps towards food sustainability. I do believe that there are many paths to the same goal and I will continue to applaud Farm to Table for the awesome concept that it promotes to those who are fortunate enough in this country to invest in that endeavor. I can only hope that those who attended will find it in their hearts to carry that idea so that eventually everyone on this island may benefit from an affordable ‘farm to table’ meal.