Early this week, we had a Q&A session with a seasoned Earth Dinner participant, Diane Elliot of Local Roots – A Farm to Table Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia. In the post below, she outlines her fantastic plans for a special Earth Dinner event at Local Roots on April 18. She also has some advice to share with new Earth Dinner restaurants. Read on!

What are you planning to do this year for Earth Dinners?


Photo from Local Roots website, credit: David Hungate

Diane of Local Roots: For our April 18 Earth Dinner, we are planning a Meet the Farmers Spring Lamb and Wild-Foraged Dinner. The farmer and wife who raise the lamb for us will be at the restaurant with slides on a computer screen showing their farm and operation and they will be answering questions about raising lamb and generally being ambassadors for raising livestock in an organic, caring way that respects who they are as animals.

With our lamb we will be featuring such foraged items as purslane, wood sorrel, dandelion greens, violets, ramps, nettles, wild garlic, “creasy greens” (dry land cress), and whatever else we can find that Mother Nature gives us. The event begins at 6 pm with a reception, open bar, and lamb appetizers.

At 6:30 we will sit down to a four-course dinner which will include lamb heart for first course and lamb loin for third course. These will be accompanied by the various foraged plants we have found and some garden-grown spring veggies from our nearby restaurant garden. The dinner is priced at $48. We will have wine-pairings available.

The menu will be available on our website soon: localrootsrestaurant.com. We do not always know very far ahead what exactly we will be offering as we are seasonal and what is in season dictates what we serve.

What inspired you to do a dinner like this?

Diane: I have been reading more and more about wild-foraged foods and thought it would be fun to have a dinner featuring what we can find around here. I like to open new horizons for people, taking them to a new place in understanding what is around them and helping them connect to what is real.

Also, it is part of our mission to educate people about what is available locally and seasonally. This includes what is right around them, even in their own yards. I hope the dinner will encourage people to look at what they already have as “weeds” in their yards and fields and to discontinue poisonous applications to their yards so they can eat what is there. All plants have a purpose. 

We wanted to have this last year and planned it for May, but due to an unseasonably warm spring, there was not enough to have such a dinner in May. So, we planned it earlier for this year to coincide with the Earth Dinner dates and, alas, it is an unseasonably cool spring. So, we shall see what we come up with!

How have Earth Dinners helped you achieve your mission?

Our mission is to find and prepare S.O.L.E. food: Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical…and Delicious. 

Earth Dinners have helped us to further our mission and given us a chance to hand out the wonderful materials you send us with Organic Valley’s help. It helps people to broaden their perspective on and know that we in Roanoke are part of a much greater movement of like-minded chefs and owners working for, not against, Mother Earth.
What advice would you give a new Earth Dinner participant?
Diane: Go for it. You can make it as easy or challenging as you like. This is our third year; the past two we served a menu much like our usual menu and gave out educational materials; this year we are stretching ourselves to try something different.

Whatever you do, it is an opportunity to draw attention to what you are doing, your mission, and raise people’s awareness of eating locally and sustainably.