Farms Finest: Thanksgiving is a time to give back

Joni Keefe
Special to The Aspen Times

Thanksgiving is when we take time from our routines to celebrate by sharing traditional foods with friends and family. We commonly think of pilgrims and colonial times as the beginning of this custom. But the feast of thanks and giving goes far back into ancient times, when a community celebrated a successful harvest by offering food to all.

The traditional “horn of plenty,” or cornucopia, is actually a harvest symbol, and in ancient art it is depicted as an empty cow horn filled with vegetables, fruits and nuts. This timeless celebration of the land goes back to mankind’s very earliest farming efforts.

For most of us today, we could not comprehend how vital a bountiful harvest was for survival. A settlement lacking in food resources would face sickness and often death. Throughout history, having a poor yield in the fields set the stage for major upheavals and wars. Power was in the hands of those who controlled an abundant food supply.

We have come a long way from ancient times and the pilgrims’ feast of duck, turkey or other foods that were available. But what remains constant is that it is a day to give thanks for what we have and give back to the community in some way.

Kindness from community and friends can make all the difference for those who cannot have a home-cooked dinner or afford a table reservation or who simply find themselves alone. Below are a few local examples of making that difference.

• The sixth annual Farm to Table meal will be put on by Aspen T.R.E.E. and sponsored by the Ditton Dreman Memorial Fund. This will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Aspen High School lunchroom. Here, a meal is provided that is nearly 100 percent organic and locally grown. This event is not a fundraiser and is free to anyone.

Making it happen is chef Jim Butchart, from Aspen Skiing Co., Sarah Hensley, from the Cheese Shop, Tico Starr, from Rustique, Francis Stuckens, of Clark’s Market, and chef Sean, from Pine Creek Cookhouse. Each person is coordinating a course for the meal with support of nearly 200 volunteers to help plan, cook and serve the meal. This event is on a first-come, first-served basis for seating.

To volunteer, please contact Noga Vardy at 970-618-4944 or For more information about Aspen T.R.E.E., please visit

• The Hickory House on Main Street in Aspen offers up its long-standing tradition of providing a free Thanksgiving Day dinner with all the fixings. Everyone is invited to this community buffet. As a popular locals’ event, this is a great place to meet old friends and make new ones.

• The Carbondale Pour House also is rolling up its sleeves and putting on its annual Holiday Feast. Donations are appreciated but not required. The restaurant expects to serve about 85 to 100 meals. All this is starting at noon on Thanksgiving Day and continues until the food is gone.

It would not be a traditional holiday without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a football game and delicious food to share. Yet what really makes the holiday special is living in a community where so many people are giving back.

Joni Keefe moved to the Roaring Fork Valley after a career in landscape design. She is passionate about local food and agriculture. For more information, visit or follow her on Twitter. Connect at