NORTH BENNINGTON -- Friday evening, friends of the Hiland Hall Gardens, community members and guests gathered for a night of celebration on Hiland Hall's sprawling farmhouse property.
A blue and white-striped tent housed tables for mingling while guests, including newly appointed Bennington College President Mariko Silver and her family, were simultaneously encouraged to explore the manicured lawn, flower and vegetable beds.
After about an hour, local chef and caterer Deb Gluckman served a buffet-style dinner featuring produce grown in the Youth Agriculture Project's market garden, only a stone's throw away from the tent.
Gluckman, who has been heavily involved with the Hiland Hall Gardens over the years, said it felt great to be celebrating another successful year.
"They do such great things in the community," she said. "It's nice to see how the younger generations have stepped up, too."
The younger generations to which Gluckman referred, included garden interns as well as garden hands and supervisors of the newly-organized Youth Agriculture Project Market Garden, who were congratulated and thanked for their efforts in helping to maintain the beauty and ingenuity of the property during a speech given by Hiland Hall Gardens' Board Members Sandra Magsamen and David Kelso.
The pair also thanked the North Bennington community for their support and loyalty over the years, as well as local farmer Karen Trubitt, of True Love Farm, the "Dirt Divas," who expertly weeded the plethora of garden beds throughout the year, and the students and teachers of the Village School of North Bennington, who use the Hiland Hall Gardens as an extended classroom during the school year.
Magsamen later noted that it felt very apropos of the Hiland Hall Gardens' mission of community, educating the young about the beauty of growing food, and promoting the importance of healthy eating, to be enjoying a dinner largely consisting of food grown right on the premises.
"It finally feels as though the circle has been closed," she said. "A true farm to table experience."
Bennington College physician and friend of the Hiland Hall Gardens Randy Anselmo worked for months leading up to the celebration to create a red wine crafted entirely from grapes grown in Hiland Hall Gardens' greenhouse and grounds.
According to Magsamen, the profits from each $50 bottle of wine sold will be used to fund future beautification efforts on the property.
Throughout the evening, an acoustic performance by the Buzz Saw Boys serenaded the crowd -- the finishing touch on an evening so obviously dedicated to grassroots collaboration and a small town uniting for a simple cause: to create and maintain a beautiful space for all to enjoy.
"Tonight was really about thanking everyone who has helped us to flourish, but it was also like a show and tell, in a way," said Magsamen. "We're so proud of what's going on here and we want people to know that this is truly a space for community."
The Hiland Hall Gardens, located at 3 Park Street in North Bennington, are open to the public seven days a week, free of charge.
To learn more about the gardens or to become a volunteer, visit www.hilandhallgarden.org.
Contact Elizabeth Conkey at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.