PRESS RELEASE: Farms are the Tapas raises nearly $20,000 for farmland preservation


October 5, 2020 | For Immediate Release

Farms are the Tapas raises nearly $20,000 for farmland preservation

HUDSONVILLE — The specter of coronavirus derailed many events in 2020, but not Ottawa County’s premier farmland preservation fundraiser and chefs competition, Farms are the Tapas. With the public’s safety in mind, the Agricultural Preservation Board and Farmland Preservation Program staff rolled up their sleeves and hammered out a plan to adjust to the new reality.

To facilitate a touch-free experience, the Department partnered with a new online auction and ticketing site, Event.Gives. Through this new web portal, the department sold tickets and was able to run a virtual silent auction of agricultural-themed items. This enabled those not comfortable with attending in person to participate in the auction from virtually anywhere.

“Covid meant we needed to do things differently,” said Farmland Preservation Specialist Julie Lamer. “After carefully considering a number of options, we settled on an outdoor, to-go event.”

Interviews with area producers and event sponsors Maple Hill Beef Farms and Visser Farms touching on the challenges of Covid and the importance of local agriculture were conducted by staff for promotional purposes ahead of the event. This ensured the farmland preservation program stayed on the public radar.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, turned out to be a beautiful night to elevate farmland preservation. More than 60 people participated in our fourth annual fundraiser outside of Terra Square in Hudsonville.

Starting at 6 p.m. the day of the event, ticketholders had the option to take their tapas to go or enjoy their meals and socialize at a limited number of bar top tables in the outdoor farmers market area of Terra Square. Staff were available before and during the event to assist with navigating the Event.Gives platform, and participants on site and off were kept engaged with a series of live event texts.

Chefs representing three area restaurants – The Farmhouse of Zeeland; Rush Creek Bistro of Grandville; and Waverly Stone Gastropub of Holland – competed in our master chef cooking competition. Voting was done by text message. With a fresh take on sliders, The Farmhouse restaurant took home the coveted Harvest Knife award.

With nearly $20,000 raised, it’s clear the challenges of Covid-19 didn’t dampen the spirits of Ottawa County’s citizens. The Farmland Preservation staff thanks attendees and event sponsors for their unwavering support of Ottawa County agriculture!

For more information on the farmland preservation program, visit


Media Contact:

Julie Lamer, Farmland Preservation Analyst | | 616-738-4852


Chef DJ Stucker of The Farmhouse in Zeeland prepares what would be the winning dish behind the scenes.



Agricultural Preservation Board member Myra Koomen and Land Use Planning Specialist James Kilborn prep tapas to-go bags during the event. Each bag was packed with fresh tapas dishes from the three participating restaurants, a can of cider from Farmhaus Cider Company of Hudsonville, a beverage from sponsor Fairlife, and a dessert item from sponsor Berries Delicious of East Grand Rapids.


[Photos by Rich C. Lakeberg/ Ottawa County]