Summer’s ultimate al fresco feast (with flowers)

By Jessica Yadegaran


Right now, Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon is awash in the bright colors of late summer. Zinnias. Dahlias. Coral peonies and white lilies. Sunflowers and roses as far as the eye can see. The sustainable flower farm, which shares its seven acres with bald eagles and trumpeter swans, is quite possibly the ultimate venue for an end-of-summer al fresco dinner party.

On Sept. 12, you can take a seat and prove it. That’s when the national Field to Vase Dinner Tourhits Washington, and specifically, Jello Mold Farm, where owners and veteran flower farmers Diane Szukovathy and Dennis Westphall will host a dinner on a dramatic community table brimming with some of the 150 botanical varieties that flourish in the Skagit River Valley.

The event is part of a 10-city tour promoting Certified American Grown, a coalition of U.S. flower farms. The tour stops on Oct. 3 at Oregon Flowers, Inc. in Aurora, Oregon, the heart of the Willamette Valley. They all hope to raise awareness of the Slow Flowers Movement, a commitment to local, seasonal, sustainable floriculture.

But, even though locally-grown flowers will be the focal point of the evening’s discussion, this is still a four-course, family-style pop-up dinner celebrating edible bounty – and I mean really good food: Chef Erik Jackson of Seattle’s Capitol Cider is in charge of the menu and for entrees he’s planning porchetta with kale chimichurri and grilled chicken with harissa glaze and edible carnations. Featured wines will be Charles Smith; featured ciders, Finnriver.

Prior to the dinner, guests will enjoy a private tour of Jello Mold Farm followed by a custom floral installation created by Seattle floral designer Melissa Feveyear of Terra Bella Flowers. The event takes place, rain or shine, from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $175 per person and can be purchased through Certified American Grown.