It takes a lot of resources to run 11 farmers markets a week plus five educational programs in the Washington metropolitan area. That’s why FreshFarm Markets is hosting its 10th annual Farmland Feast tonight — a soldout event at the Ritz-Carlton in the West End.

Chefs give their time to make cutting-edge hors d’oeuvres and a six-course meal that features foods, wines and spirits from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Hundreds of vendors and patrons donate items to the silent and live auctions of the evening. Even the decorations come from local nurseries and farms.

Who benefits? Regional farmers, and, indirectly, just about everyone who lives in the Chesapeake Bay region.

 A decade of these fundraisers has raised $1.3 million. That money goes to support grants for farmer education; an organic garden and school curriculum at Watkins Elementary School on Capitol Hill; the operation of the farmers markets; and WIC and SNAP programs that help low-income families shop at the markets.

One of the highlights of the evening comes by way of a keynote address given by a local farmer each year. (You can see some of last year’s farmer, Julie Stinar of Evensong Farm, in the video above.) Tonight’s speaker will be Mike Koch of Firefly Farms. A decade ago, he left a career in finance to become a cheesemaker. His products have gained a national reputation. FreshFarm Markets co-founder and co-executive director Ann Yonkers says his success mirrors that of the small farmers and producers her outfit works with every day.

All We Can Eat tips its hat to the Farmland Feast and to all the folks who make it happen.

 Donations to FreshFarm Markets can be made by clicking here .

Further reading:

* The FreshFarm Market at 15: A list