Monday, May 09, 2011

A Leap of Faith at Restoration Farm

For members of the CSA, this day couldn't come soon enough - opening day for the 2011 season at Restoration Farm.

The supply of frozen berries, greens and butternut squash soup put up for the winter is almost consumed. And, we've endured a lot this past winter. Endless snow and rain. Wars and revolts. The acrimonious threat of a government shutdown. Scheming associates. Friends moving on. Even exploding food trucks.

We need a place that offers solace, nourishment and community. Perhaps the name Restoration Farm is not accidental.

Becoming a member of a CSA is a leap of faith, committing to share in the success and (hopefully few) mishaps of the growing season. But when you think about it, dropping a tiny seed in the ground is perhaps an even bigger leap of faith.

The faithful return for a glimpse of the farm, and we walk the footpath to the fields again after many months. The stresses of the week fall away.

Many staff and volunteers have been busy throughout the winter, and the farm continues to evolve. New projects are underway to nurture and inspire members. For the first time, animals will be part of the rhythms of the farm. Head grower Dan Holmes talks about how these new endeavors weave into the fabric of Restoration Farm. He says it is all about creating a healthy cycle – a sustainable loop within the farm – where chickens are cared for and forage naturally, along with planting and harvesting vegetables, providing healthy food for members.

A new hen house is home to six breeds of heritage hens. Within six months, they will start to lay eggs.

Red and green lettuce is poking up through the brown earth in the Spring Field.

The ubiquitous kale – that vigorous, healthy green - is showing signs of life.

Twenty five members have committed to a monthly pastured chicken share. Tricia is managing the “Hardscrabble Chicken” project and she gives me a peak at the broiler hens in a brooder that were hatched just days earlier.

As they mature, the birds will live within a bottomless pen which allows them to access grass and bugs. The pen is moved to new pasture each day.

The herb garden has been expanded with beds for basil, additional herbs and cutting flowers.

This summer there will even be blueberries in the Sweet Field, in addition to strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Already, the lush green strawberry plants are covered with white blossoms.

As we walk along the berry fields Dan makes a comment that lingers in my memory. Good, healthy vegetables will always be harvested - that’s a given. But it’s the actions of the faithful members - who volunteer, and participate and create - that sustain the cycle of life at Restoration Farm.

The first distribution of vegetables will not occur for weeks, but I’m keeping the faith, already imagining the meals and relationships that lie ahead.

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Julia said...

Oh, this is so exciting! I know that feeling of eager anticipation. I just cut my first salad last night which marks the first day of the season.

I love those mobile chicken coops!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a great tour of the farm T.W.

Spring is here, finally. I know it must be terrific to be back at the farm, working with friends and planting for the new season. The hen house project sounds very promising.

~~louise~~ said...

Top of the morning to you T.W!

Don't you just love the way the soothing "sounds" of seedlings growing and chickens pecking erase the madness of the winter turmoil?

Beautiful post, T.W. It is going to be an exciting year at Restoration Farm, I can feel it in my bones:)

Thank you so much for sharing...

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

A restorative post, even for those of us who aren't members of your CSA. I'm looking forward to many lovely visits to Restoration Farm this season through your posts.

Kalyn said...

Let the fun begin!

Barbara said...

Very exciting, TW! I can't wait for all your Restoration Farm posts. It's wonderful to see spring coming to the north. You've had a really hard winter.
(Thought of you yesterday. Had lunch with a local magazine publisher/friend and we were discussing food trucks. It appears the reason we never see any around here is Palm Beach County is NOT food truck-friendly. Boo on them.)

tasteofbeirut said...

Hens? eggs? Can't wait to make a glorious cake or brioche!

Velva said...

The farm is coming to life for another season! Woo-hoo. I am going to be looking forward to enjoying these posts.

A couple of weeks ago, I rented a small family garden plot just down the road from my home called Orchards Ponds Organic Farm. I am giddy about working my very own little plot of land.


Susan from Food Blogga said...

This is cause for celebration, TW! Finally after all those long, snowy months, you're greeting with the sweet smells and sights of spring. Enjoy!

alfred p. said...

You know, chickens are incredibly adaptable. For instance, during the 19th Famin in Ireland, Irish chickens were hunted to near extinction. However, one hardy group learned how to run--and run fast--easily outpacing a staving farmer and his scrawny dog with little effort. Before the Famin ended, it was documented that the Irish chicken had become, after the cheetah, the fastest moving animal on the planet. They eventually retreated to some remote central highlands where they race each other and prey on slower animals like mountain goats and sheep. Even though they are particularly tasty, when was the last time you saw Irish chicken on a menu?--to this day, they are impossible to catch.

Gloria said...

what really nice place, I enjoy the pictures! gloria

Mary said...

I see the charm the farm has for you. I always love the promise of opening day. There is some that draws city-folk like you and me to these farms. I think they just participate more fully in the cycle of life. I hope you remember the Waltons.Have a great weekend T.W. Bob. Blessings...Mary

A Feast for the Eyes said...

What a great story! I love how the chicks will be moved around. I only buy free-range farm fresh eggs. Sure, I pay double or more for them, but I like knowing that the hens were humanely treated. I also appreciate the darker color of the yolks. Our farm stand just opened, and I'm so excited! We don't grow blueberries here, but we have olallieberries. Farm fresh, organic product is such a great thing. I hope your Restoration Farm has a great bounty!

I Wilkerson said...

I love the start of CSA season (we too are so close to nothing left--though that feels good in it's own way). Lovely, inspirational photos!