Sunday, November 01, 2009

Twilight at Restoration Farm

The sun sets low in the sky on the 2009 growing season at Restoration Farm. The final distribution of shares has been harvested. It is Halloween morning, yet beneath the distribution tent, it looks like a Thanksgiving table.

There is lots of talk about sustainable agriculture, but relatively few people get to experience its full rewards. It is really no surprise that tucked inside the word sustainable is the word sustenance.

Sustenance came with every visit to Restoration Farm. It came in the beautiful and seemingly endless bounty of vegetables. Even today, there is chard and kale, golden beets, cabbage, peppers, seven pounds of sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, turnip, daikon, garlic, butternut squash and even pie pumpkins in honor of Halloween …


If, as head grower Dan Holmes has said, their goal is to delight and surprise the CSA member, they have not failed to please, even on this, the very last day of the season.

Sustenance came from the sense of community at Restoration Farm. The winter will seem a little colder without the friendly conversations shared with Caroline, Dan and Susan at the distribution tent – conversations that taught me so much about the farmer’s perspective.

Sustenance came from working in the fields when time permitted, digging my hands into the soil to retrieve potatoes, picking berries in the midday sun, and walking through the fields. As has been my practice, I set out on foot again, not sure when I will next return. Taupe leaves dance through the air on whirlwinds. Emerald green cover crop has sprouted in the fields that will provide protection and nourishment to the soil throughout the winter.

George’s Pole Bean Kingdom, alas, has withered away.

And by the historic red barn, the trees appear to be on fire.

Sustenance prevailed in my kitchen. For months now, most of my lunches and dinners, and even some sweets contained ingredients from Restoration Farm. I couldn’t begin to write about all the things I actually cooked from the produce grown there. There were so many dishes you didn’t get to see - lasagna with Swiss chard, raspberry buttermilk ice cream, cinnamon zucchini bread, acorn squash with mushroom cranberry stuffing, roasted sweet potato soup with jalapeños and red bell pepper, creamy potato leek soup and lentil soup with kale. I became quite skilled at finding ways to incorporate those ubiquitous leafy greens into all sorts of recipes.

I also got better at wasting less and learned how to blanch and freeze greens for use in weeknight recipes. Although, some weeks, there was so much that it could be challenging to cook it all quickly enough. Next year, I’m going to try and overcome my fear of canning, to see if I can preserve more.

Still, for now, my freezer is well-stocked. Memories of Restoration Farm, the vegetables that sprang from the soil nurtured by Dan, Caroline and others, and the sustenance of the food and the place will carry me well into the winter.

©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

12 comments:

Fresh Local and Best said...

T.W. I adore your writing style! You've captured so beautifully the reasons for why I focus on farm fresh foods. Bravo! This is such an inspiring post!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

T.W., what a lovely tribute to Restoration Farm. It's so important that we learn to waste less. We have become a throw-away society.

Every time you get something out of the freezer this winter from the farm, it will invoke these lovely memories.
Sam

Julia said...

So wonderful you got so much out of your CSA!! And I don't mean just the food.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

What a tranquil setting at Restoration Farm. I can almost hear the leaves rustling and the ducks quacking-- it's so lovely. So many people miss out on appreciating what it means to have fresh, organic fruits and vegetables from the garden. I've learned to appreciate making recipes with them. Don't be afraid to can! I taught myself how to do it this summer. It is a lot of fun, and I love seeing all the beautiful jams I preserved from summer berries and fruits. I would love to have seen the raspberry buttermilk ice cream you made. UIt sounds marvelous!

Marjie said...

We had a tiny "Square Foot" garden, and there is nothing like fresh veggies! Your pictures are beautiful, and I hope you have enough goodies to delight you through much of the winter.

Stacey Snacks said...

I love that photo of you frosting the cake! So handsome!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

It sounds like you and Restoration Farm have had a beautiful season together. I hope it's the first of many.

Kalyn said...

What a lovely post. I can see what a feeling of community it would create. I'm loving their cookbook too so I can tell it's a community of great cooks!

Julia said...

It's really nice to see something like this on Long Island. So important for this land that once was covered in farms!

Jann said...

I know you are going to miss getting all those fresh ingredients,but it sounds like you have everything under control.....in your freezer! I enjoyed reading about all your trips and finds out at the farm.

Zen Chef said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on sustainable agriculture. Kuddos to you for supporting such a great place and an even greater cause.

Love the picture of the red barn too!

~~louise~~ said...

Your frolics through Restoration Farm have been most inspiring, T.W. I'm looking forward to finding such a place of sustenance in PA.

Thank you for letting us tag along. It's been wonderful seeing the dishes you have churned out even if you didn't share that Raspberry Buttermilk Ice Cream!!!