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I felt like I was in Indiana, my home state, at the Great Park’s Seventh Annual Jewel of Orange County event. With a “Field to Fork” theme and the fresh, locally sourced dinner served farm style at long communal tables on the green, I was back home! The event drew a whopping 450 guests (second highest attendance since the first Jewel) past a cadre of mammoth John Deere tractors to the Park’s Farm + Food Lab, where guests sipped the event’s signature Blue Ice Vodka “Purple Basil Cooler” (the basil was fresh from the Park’s gardens) in honest-to-goodness Mason jars during the cocktail reception and silent auction. Tom Larson, the Great Park’s Farm, Food and Landscape Division Manager, hailed everyone in his Farmer John overalls (cute!), ringing a huge iron triangle that dinner was served. Foundation for the Great Park board member and event chair Teddie Ray welcomed the crowd, saying that this year’s Jewel event was planned to showcase the Park’s Farm, Food & Agriculture component, including the 100-acre Great Park Farm, the Farm + Food Lab and the planned Community Gardens. She especially thanked former California Secretary of Agriculture A. G. Karamura and his family, who are third-generation Orange County growers, for providing the fruits and vegetables served for dinner, which was orchestrated by chef Brian Dobbin. Ray also recognized her committee, which included Janet Ray, Judith Posnikoff, Lisanne Witte, Rosemary Ward, Deborah Hefter, Keiko SakamotoMadeline Swinden, Christine Comp, Lynn Jochim, Kathy Taylor, and Barbara MacGillivray.

Others making formal remarks included former state senator and foundation board chair Marian Bergeson and foundation director Rick Hume, with Maria Hall-Brown, of PBS SoCal fame, acting as mistress of ceremonies. The live auction item – a “Behind the Scenes” Great Park bike tour for 10, with a Great Park Neighborhoods’ orange bike thrown in, led by Barbara and Greg MacGillivray, with a ride in the GP Balloon and a picnic lunch to boot! – sold two times at $6,500 to Jim and Sheila Peterson and Walkie and Janet Ray. Dancing under the stars with the Folk Americana band Skyline Drive, as the Park’s orange balloon rose again and again in the night sky, rounded out the warmhearted affair, which, by the way, netted $175,000 for the cause. I thought the vegetable seed packet guest favors were novel. As a matter of fact, my tomato seeds are planted!

Photographs by Ann Chatillon