For an entire weekend, kindness, love, and compassion that is at the core of The Center for Discovery®, overflowed and touched hundreds of people.

And they reciprocated with unprecedented support.

At the annual Michael Ritchie Big Barn Event for a Sustainable Future, 15 of the most renowned chefs showcased a menu of unparalleled taste for more than 200 guests in attendance. The event highlights The Center’s Department of Nourishment Arts®’ Seed to Belly® program, which gets everyone, including residents and students, actively involved in the growing and producing of food – from the cultivation of the soil and selecting the seeds, from the farm into the kitchen – and then onto the bite.

The Center has 300 acres of organic and biodynamic farmland, on which at least 60 different vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs are grown each year to serve all residents, students and staff. The money raised at The Michael Ritchie Big Barn Event for a Sustainable Future is earmarked exclusively for TCFD’s cutting edge multi-scoped research program.

The 2019 DaVinci Master Chef Team at the Annual Michael Ritchie Big Barn Event

After a night of support by star chefs (all of whom are also DaVinci Master Chefs at The Center), friends, families, supporters, and dignitaries, the following day featured family at the forefront.

Moms and dads, siblings, grandparents, and other caregivers gathered at the table to celebrate their loved ones and The Center for Discovery®.  They gave thanks for the bounty of the TCFD harvest prepared with great detail by Sullivan County’s own, Mr. Willy’s Catering.  And they gave thanks to The Center and to each one of the nearly 1,700 staff members who care for, motivate, inspire, challenge, and especially love, their family members with complex conditions, like autism. It was clear that the whole TCFD community is family, too.

The Harvest Festival was held in the Milligan Hill Equine Assisted Therapy Program Arena which was transformed into a huge dining room and gathering hall – complete with bales of hay, loads of fall-hued mums, and tons of pumpkins. This year’s hosts were fan favorites, John and Tommy, who are both TCFD residents, and sure know how to get the crowd going with their creative one-liners and jokes.

During the festival, the annual Green Shovel Award was given to Allen Hershkowitz, Chairman and Founding Director of Sports and Sustainability International. And, the Thomas P. Morahan Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Rune J. Simeonsson, TCFD Researcher (The Center’s first!), and Professor of School Psychology and Early Childhood Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Both Hershkowitz and Simeonsson have been instrumental in the development of policy and guidelines at The Center in regards to the environment, psychology, and education, and we thank them for their continuous support and dedication of our large mission.

From The Michael Ritchie Big Barn Event to the Harvest Festivalthe sentiment was the same – there is no place like The Center of Discovery®. This special weekend proves kindness, compassion, and love breed even more kindness, compassion and love.  And they change lives – one forkful, one meal, one high 5, and one smile at a time.

For more information about TCFD’s life-changing Seed to Belly® program, please watch this video:, and contact

To view a beautiful flyover video, showcasing The Center for Discovery’s expansive breadth and scope, please visit: