Only in Silicon Valley would there be a dinner party on a farm, where ducklings waddled and peacocks strolled, as a drone silently observed the revelry, and even farther above, cars whizzed past on two highway overpasses. Where was this blending of greenery and 21st-century life? At the red barn that can be spotted along Interstate 680 or 101: Emma Prusch Farm Park, or more specifically, Veggielution.
Veggielution’s annual fundraiser for the community farm marked its ninth anniversary with fEAST San José, a celebration of food and The Eastside community. Tickets were $150 each, and the sold-out dinner was catered by Michelin Star chefs Jessica Carreira and David Costa of Adega, a local Portuguese restaurant. Some of the standout dishes included: peixinhos da horta (tempura-fried green beans); legumes assados (roasted eggplants, zucchinis, and carrots); and sardinha assada (fire-grilled sardines). For dessert, guests eagerly lined up for the pudim flan (flan pudding with caramel) and torta de laranja (orange tort cake).
While the evening drifted toward the cooler side, the roughly 250 guests happily enjoyed the outdoor pleasures of Veggielution’s pocket at Emma Prusch. The evening was a textbook definition of rustic elegance, with wooden tables, string lights, and greenery. After grabbing a drink at the bar, guests took a hayride around the fields, where peacocks were spotted—later they were spied on the roof. Others struck poses at the photo booth, perching on a tractor in a field of plants. Toward the back of the farm sat a charming, dome-shaped garden canopy. Inside, people could grab crayons and participate in a community coloring project: filling in the feathers and swirls of a peacock.
There were also prizes to win and gifts to bid on. The silent auction included gifts such as a Vietnamese cooking class and brunch at Veggielution. Guests also had three tickets to split among five raffles, for items like a plush Jumbo Jibbles persimmon pillow, an artisan wine and cheese experience at Testarossa Winery, and Kendra Scott jewelry.
On display was Veggielution’s Rolling Grange. The new food truck, created in partnership with Gensler, will act as an incubator for food entrepreneurs in East San Jose as part of the Eastside Grange program. Veggielution’s Eastside Grange is a community food hub that will host an outdoor market, cooking classes, and mentorship opportunities, and more. The tempura-fried green beans guests enjoyed were cooked in the truck at the beginning of the evening.
But while fEAST was a party—the night ended with dancing to live music played by the San Francisco band The B-Stars—it was also a celebration of Veggielution’s impact. The goal of Veggielution is to make it feel like home, said Executive Director Cayce Hill. Veggielution helped one speaker, Yazmin Hernandez, find a community to support her dreams. Hernandez came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant when she was 12 years old. She struggled with a language barrier, a different culture, and the fear of deportation while trying to find a job. After participating in programs like Veggielution Cocina, a cooking class, she found support and is now planning to launch a catering business with her best friend. “[Veggielution] brought me back the hunger to dream and freedom to do so,” she said.
Written by Haley Kim
Photography by Daniel Garcia