Celebrating South Florida Farmers: Dinner for Farmers

Outdoor long dining table setting under a banyan tree, with metal chairs and floral centerpieces, near a building with terracotta walls.

The “Dinner for Farmers” initiative stands as a pioneering model of how urban farming can foster community spirit, support local agriculture, and contribute to sustainability efforts in an urban setting. What began in 2015 as a collaboration between Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and Edible South Florida as a simple way to connect with the local farming community is now so much more.

The project was crafted with the goal of bridging the gap between local farmers and the broader community in Miami. At its core, “Dinner for Farmers” aimed to recognize and celebrate the hard work of South Florida’s small farmers by inviting them to a night dedicated to their efforts, thereby strengthening the bonds within the farming community and with those they feed.

With the impending launch of a newly restored Vizcaya Village in 2026, “Dinner for Farmers” is more important than ever! It continues to evolve, making a connection between Vizcaya’s agricultural past and its present and future as a cultural hub for our community.

Agriculture and Vizcaya

Following the tradition of Northern Italian villas, the Vizcaya estate was built with its own farm and village when it was created in 1916. This was important for James Deering’s winter home, not only because of the mogul’s ties to agriculture but because it ensured Vizcaya could be self-sufficient, an essential matter given its location in the newly founded city of Miami and the challenges of transporting supplies to this peninsula.

The Seeds of an Idea

As Vizcaya Museum and Gardens embarked on the path to reintegrate urban farming into the fabric of Vizcaya Village, the need to understand the nuances of the urban farming landscape—both its physical and social dimensions—became evident. Collaborating with Gretchen Schmidt of Edible South Florida, a series of engagements unfolded, from farm tours to dialogues with local experts and farmers, laying the groundwork for what would soon blossom into the “Dinner for Farmers.”

Recognizing the shared challenges and rhythms of farming life, the idea emerged to host a gathering unlike any other—a night off for farmers to connect, share, and celebrate the fruits of their labor. Thus, the “Dinner for Farmers” was born, symbolizing a shift towards communal engagement and mutual support among those who nourish the community.

A Progressive Dinner with a Purpose

Designed as a progressive dinner, the event provided a unique opportunity to explore Vizcaya Village in a meaningful way, moving from one location to another with each course. Local chefs, many of whom were direct clients of the attending farmers, were invited to prepare meals using produce donated by the farmers themselves. This direct farm-to-table experience not only showcased the quality and versatility of local produce but also highlighted the symbiotic relationship between farmers and chefs.

Beyond the sumptuous meals, the initiative served as a platform for education and recognition. Students shared insights into school-based agricultural projects, and awards were presented to honor those making significant contributions to farming, from education and advocacy to climate change adaptation. This celebration of community heroes fostered a sense of unity and appreciation among all participants.

Watch the video below to go behind-the-scenes and inside the 2024 edition of Dinner for Farmers

Growth and Evolution

Since its inception, “Dinner for Farmers” has become a highly anticipated event, hosting around 50 farmers annually from 2016 through 2019. Its success lies not just in the numbers but in the lasting relationships it has cultivated, with many farmers returning year after year. The hiatus only fueled anticipation for its relaunch, promising new opportunities for growth and engagement.

Looking ahead, this humble community dinner stands poised to expand its impact through educational workshops, partnerships with food rescue organizations, and an emphasis on nutrition. The introduction of new spaces like teaching and kitchen classrooms in Vizcaya Village will facilitate hands-on learning and deeper immersion into the world of sustainable agriculture.

Make an Impact: Visit the Farmers Market

As we celebrate the revival of “Dinner for Farmers” and its contribution to the local farming community, we also invite you – our friends, followers and visitors – to connect with this vibrant ecosystem through your local farmers market.

For those of you looking to contribute to South Florida’s farming community, making a weekly trip to your local farmers market and the Vizcaya Village Farmers Market is a great place to start!

Featuring over 30 local, organic, and artisanal vendors, the market offers a unique opportunity to shop local and engage with the community. Vizcaya’s market offers much more than shopping. From family activities and tours of Vizcaya Village to $5 wellness classes, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

In embracing the spirit of “Dinner for Farmers,” we not only honor the legacy of Vizcaya Village but also contribute to a sustainable future for urban farming in Miami. Join us in this journey of discovery, connection, and growth.

Your participation helps to sustain the legacy of urban farming and community engagement at Vizcaya Village, ensuring a greener, more connected future for all.

Related Stories

Discover more about the art, artifacts and conservation work at Vizcaya.