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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vines & Wines at Farmpark

A backdrop of a perfect late summer twilight made the courtyard venue just about perfect for Friday's annual Vines & Wines benefit by the Lake Parks Foundation.

People mixed, mingled and got brought up to date about their summers as they browsed among plants, shrubs and trees donated by members of the Nursery Growers of Lake County, committing to purchases of extraordinarily-priced plant material.

This beautifully blooming shoulder high hydrangea caught my eye at $35, but while I was mulling over where in my yard I would plant it, it was marked as sold to someone else and hauled away to the pick-up area. Prices to my admittedly untrained eye were 25 to 50% less than you'd find them in a garden center. And because everything was raised right here in Lake County their survival is nearly assured.

The courtyard at Lake Metroparks Farmpark in Kirtland was scattered with umbrella tables for diners. But most guests, who had paid $45 for the pleasure of being there, saved their visits to the four food stations until after they'd browsed the plant materials. Silent auction groupings of plants, artworks and gift baskets filled the courtyard 's circumference. A clever lotto tree had as its leaves more than $200 worth of instant lotto tickets.

Plant material that was for sale was displayed in and beyond the porte cochere preceding the bar. It was well organized by sections for plants requiring either sun or shade. I was on the lookout for plants that would be fragrant and thrive in the shade so they could infuse my non air-conditioned living room with their scent. The wine, beer and beverage tent, set up at the far end of the party area, served to keep people moving among the collected plants. Farmpark horticulturists were on hand to answer questions while burlier staffers moved plants once they'd been purchased.

There wasn't much left once the evening was over, but leftover plants are being sold today (saturday, aug. 15) through 2 p.m. at Farmpark. Amy Kapostasy, Farmpark sales manager, says that past events have raised $10- to-$12,000 for the Foundation, which supports scholarships so students can attend park events and schools can benefit from its programming. She's also the one to call (440 256-2138) to make plans for a group event at Farmpark.

J&J Catering, which operates the park's cafe concession, positioned food stations throughout the venue. I tried them all, but found the wild mushroom crepes with a white wine butter sauce and salmon wellington with asparagus and capers and a lemon buerre blanc sauce to be my favorites. The cheese board also drew me back a few times. It would have been nice to see some bleu cheese and nuts offered to accompany the nice red wine.

Among the 140 people who attended were the awesomely fit Pat Granito, old friend from Mentor Heisley Fitness Club and wife of Foundation Trustee Vincent J. Granito and new acquaintance Mark Oesterle from Wickliffe, newest of the three park commissioners. He was appointed two years ago by Lake County Probate Court Judge Ted Klammer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lake Metroparks is one of Lake County's gem. After reading your blog, I will definitely try to attend next year's fund raiser. Sounds like a great combination. Thanks for sharing!

August 18, 2009 at 1:59 PM 
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August 21, 2009 at 1:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long has this event been going on? I will have to go next year!

September 9, 2009 at 5:34 PM 

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