WHAT STARTED 10 YEARS AGO as a hobby for Alex Young, chef and owner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, has evolved into Cornman Farms, a 42-acre farm in Dexter that opened a unique four-season event space in May.
"The food is grown on-site. It’s prepared on-site. There are very few venues in the country that accomplish that all in one place," Young says. "Demand for the farm space became obvious when local friends and family wanted to have graduation photos and weddings here."
The venue itself is a relic. Young had the site’s pre-Civil War buildings restored, preserving the historic feel for celebrations and meetings of all sizes, from intimate anniversary dinners to 400-person galas.
The barn offers two levels of accessible space that can welcome up to 180 strolling guests or 110 seated. Its dining area is ground-level with a lofty ceiling of exposed, refurbished wood beams. The basement space offers a fullservice bar; there are wood-burning fireplaces on both levels. Down a short path from the barn stands the Farmhouse, a two-story Greek revival house with upstairs fitting rooms, a ground-level lounge and fireplace, and an open kitchen. The Farmhouse accommodates 80 strolling guests and up to 50 seated.
Cornman Farms offers in-house rental packages for chairs, tables, tableware and a heated tent for larger events of up to 450 people. Direct access to Zingerman’s Community of Businesses also helps simplify event planning.
Guests have full grounds access (lawn games are welcome), and can take photos with goats, cows and other pasture animals. Planners can arrange to have farm vegetables harvested to be served at their event.
"You’re booking an event at a working farm," says Kieron Hales, Cornman Farms’ manager. "We happen to have a beautiful barn, but truly the draw is that you’re on a farm eating farm-fresh food."