2017-03-30 / News

Eating locally is focus of senior’s project

Sophia Primiano will host tasting Saturday

Sophie Primiano, a senior at North Kingstown High School, with some lambs at Windmist Farm. The farm’s manager, Martha Neale, served as a mentor for Primiano’s senior project. Sophie Primiano, a senior at North Kingstown High School, with some lambs at Windmist Farm. The farm’s manager, Martha Neale, served as a mentor for Primiano’s senior project. Restaurant week is not the only opportunity this Saturday for hungry Jamestowners to enjoy a prix fixe menu.

Sophie Primiano, who will graduate from North Kingstown High School in the spring, has organized a harvest tasting for her senior project. Although the community farm on Eldred Avenue is hosting the dinner, the samples will come from several local vendors, ranging from shellfish to soda.

“It’s really great to bring the community together,” Primiano said. “I decided that having a local harvest tasting would do just that.”

Primiano, a veteran farmhand at Windmist Farm on Weeden Lane, wanted her final project to feature her hometown and its farming community. She originally planned a sit-down dinner for 30 guests, but decided a tasting would allow more people to eat, while keeping ticket costs down.

At Saturday’s tasting, which will be inside the barn, each guest will receive a ticket with six tear-off segments, one for each course. On the menu are oysters, butternut squash soup, meatballs, quiche, soda and a dessert. Diners will go station to station, redeeming their tickets for a sample of each course. Unlike the Newport celebration, these courses are a bit scaled back.

“They’re all miniature dishes,” Primiano said. “For instance, you’ll get two oysters, a little cup of soup and a mini-quiche. They’re not full-sized courses.”

Food showcases at Hope & Main in Warren, which is the state’s first culinary business incubator, inspired Primiano’s project. The facility allows entrepreneurs to jump-start their fledgling food services by providing low-cost, low-risk access to commercial kitchen space. Primiano also was encouraged by Outstanding in the Field, a traveling group of foodies that organized a dinner at Windmist Farm last summer.

Primiano’s hometown will be well represented Saturday. Along with the community farm, the Jamestown Oyster Company and Windmist Farm have ingredients on the menu. The other three vendors are Narragansett Creamery, Yacht Club Soda and Olga’s Cup + Saucer, an artisan bakery that travels to farmers markets across the state.

Primiano has been working on the project since September, calling dozens of companies to solicit donations. Although there were willing partners, Primiano had to purchase products from her own pocket. She originally budgeted $500, but donations have cut her obligation to $350.

Co-owner Martha Neale at Windmist Farm donated several items, including beef for the meatballs. According to Primiano, Neale has acted as a mentor during the process.

“She’s knows everything,” Primiano said. “It was really good utilizing her as a resource.”

Along with letting Primiano use their facility, Bob and Lynda Sutton, who manage the community farm, have assisted with the layout and logistics.

“We’re helping out, but what we’re doing is helping a very organized and smart person,” Bob Sutton said. “She’s got a nice project. Anything that encourages people to buy and eat local food is a very good thing.”

The hard work has paid off; the $15 tickets took less than a month to sell out. Not only will Primiano recoup her expenses, she expects to turn a profit.

“I wasn’t sure how people would take it in the community, but I was super thrilled,” she said. “I just can’t wait for everyone to show up at the event and have a great time.”

The tasting also will feature a door prize that will be raffled: a gift card to Rail Explorers, an eco-tourism company that sponsors railway trips on pedal-powered vehicles. Primiano’s father works for the company’s Portsmouth branch, which operates on the Aquidneck Island rail network when the trains are idle.

“It’s a great prize to get people out and into the environment,” Primiano said.

Although the impetus for the dinner was her senior project, Primiano has plans for an encore. She hasn’t yet decided where she will attend college in the fall, but if it’s nearby, she hopes to organize a second tasting next spring. If she continues her education far away, Primiano plans to pass the tradition to one of her friends in the junior class.

“It’s really worthwhile,” she said.

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