GRANT PARK, Ill. -- Chicago is a premiere food destination, but 43 miles south of downtown, a 103-foot table in Kankakee County is offering perhaps the truest version of farm-to-table dining.
"We harvest the food the week of the dinner, up until moments before the dinner," said Rachael Jones, co-owner of Locavore Farm. "All of the food we serve; the 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 homestead and eat of its bounty while enjoying live music.
"We have stories about the ingredients, about the rural setting, and about the farmers, with each course so that everyone has an intimate knowledge of the food that they're experiencing," Rachael said.
Rachael's husband, Chris, is responsible for animals on the property and mans the barbecue trailer, where the meat and cornbread are smoked.
"So far I've raised about 600 chickens this year," said Chris Jones. "We do hogs, goat, and sheep. I do have a donkey but we don't eat him. He's protection for everything else."
When guests arrive, they're greeted with an amuse-bouche and then walk to a bar in a barn for an alcoholic beverage. A tour of the farm's growing beds, animal enclosures, and lodging takes place before a multicourse meal on a pasture begins.
"For many people it's an opportunity to slow down and celebrate the good things together," Rachael said. "People are pursuing an experience in wide, open spaces."
The Jones' were drawn to Kankakee County because of the rural setting and because they wanted more control over the food they were eating.
"Initially, we didn't like where our food was coming from and what was being sprayed on our food," Chris said. "So, we decided we got to do our own thing."
Rachael said eating local is important because it's fresh, healthy, uses less fossil fuels in transport, and it boosts the local economy.
"Our dollars are staying within the farming community when we grow, purchase, and consume the food in the same proximity," says Rachael.
For more information on Locavore Farm and the experiences they offer, visit locavorefarm.com