On Saturday, November 18th, Project MOST will be the charity beneficiary of two exciting events: the second annual Hamptons Seed Exchange and a Chef’s Benefit Dinner. The former will begin at noon and continue until 4 p.m. at Scoville Hall. At 6:30, a “culinary ethnobotanical adventure” will begin (at the same location) featuring a six-course meal prepared by executive chefs Jeff Purrazzi of JK Chef Collection and Adam Kelinson of Around the Fire.
These events have great significance for Project MOST, as New York State funding for the not-for-profit organization is being eliminated in the coming months. Due to a recent policy change, the organization is no longer eligible to receive the same grants as it does not meet criteria of being within a high poverty district. “Essentially our children are losing the money that we’ve been using for them for some time because of the policy shift,” explained Susan Hanley, the Development Director at Project MOST. “We’re advocating, talking to all of our government representatives locally and on the state level trying to get our voices heard.”
This policy change has prompted the organization to shift its funding sources from grant-based to donation-based – a change that promises a new set of obstacles. “I think our biggest challenge is letting people know that we have a problem. I am 100 percent confident that people in the community from private individuals to foundations to other community representatives will step forward to try to help us. But the biggest challenge is communicating that there is a problem,” said Hanley.
Project MOST is incredibly grateful to be involved with the Hamptons Seed Exchange and a Chef’s Benefit Dinner. “It’s an amazing opportunity for Project MOST and we were all really blown away by Adam choosing us. It was an unexpected opportunity and we are so thrilled about it, it just means that more people in the community are going to learn about Project MOST and hear about what we’re doing this year with our Give A Student The MOST campaign,” said Rebecca Morgan Taylor, the Executive Director of Project MOST. The fundraising campaign allows individuals to sponsor counselors or students for a year by donating $5,000 or $1,000, respectively. Donations of any other amounts are also welcomed and needed.
Attendees of the seed exchange, which is being organized by Around The Fire, can bring their own seeds or plant ones that will be provided on site. They will also be able to bring home seeds so that they can start their own home garden. Refreshments will be for sale to further benefit Project MOST, and include wood fired pizza made by Around the Fire and desserts from A Kitchen 4 Liam.
The event is kid-friendly and educational, with discussions led by experts from Bonac Bees, Montauk Shellfish Company, Quail Hill Farm, Bridgehampton Gardens, and the Perfect Earth Project. There will also be a panel discussion moderated by Edible East End. Topics will cover the reliance of our food systems on pollination, an oyster seeding project, gardening techniques, and restoring heritage grain species – some of which are on the verge of extinction. All are welcome to attend this free event and learn more about the local flora that surrounds them.
One can indulge in a flavorful dining experience prepared with ingredients that are all locally sourced during the Chef’s Benefit Dinner. The menu includes Montauk oysters, wood fired seed bread, clambake chowder, local whole roasted pig, tea, and coffee. According to the Seed Exchange’s official Facebook page, “no European oils, sugar, butter, or spices will be used to prepare the food. Instead we will focus on what is available in our bio-region agriculturally and what we have foraged.” Surely this promises to be a unique dinner as one can experience a slice of Long Island’s culinary and agricultural history. While the seed exchange is free, admission to the chef’s dinner is $75 per person, with all proceeds going towards Project MOST.
The dinner will also include a silent auction of gift certificates generously donated by local restaurants and businesses.
“We are so incredibly grateful, so many people have stepped forward to help with this event, from chefs to local farms to local businesses. We hope this is just the beginning,” added Hanley.
Project MOST is a not-for-profit that was established in 2000. Since then, it has provided East Hampton students with after-school activities in the arts, STEM, and physical wellness. Its mission is to build on the strengths of children through academic support, enrichment activities, physical exercise, and positive social development. Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at Project MOST’s website.