Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Growing Season at Restoration Farm – People, Plants, Poultry and a Sense of Place

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been! ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

The autumn sky over Restoration Farm is indeed lustrous, perhaps to celebrate the culmination of a glorious growing season. It is my final official distribution for the year. How can something so anticipated pass so quickly?

Throughout the season, I tried to illuminate the stories of individuals whose work and new ideas contributed to the yield of the farm and the collective experience of the community. Long ago Restoration Farm cease to be just a source for food, as the stories of the people and the food became intertwined. Working daily at a place steeped in Long Island history, they’ve created a new history. As the season progressed, there were always good conversations, fresh greens, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, kale, heirloom tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant galore, tiny gold and blue potatoes, butternut squash and pastured chickens. Never was I hungry.

There is still abundant activity, even as the official growing season is winding down. In the fields, nourishing cover crop has taken the place of vegetables.

Donna Sinetar’s heritage laying hens have grown plump and chatty.

Volunteers are picking the last of the plentiful Swiss chard.

Tricia Hardgrove has cared for five different broods of pasture-raised broiler chickens that eventually graced our tables. It has truly been a delicious experiment. I catch her as she is moving the pen, allowing our final flock to dine for another day on fresh field grass.

At the distribution area, the baskets and flats are overflowing with vegetables and members are happily forging among the herb gardens and flowerbeds.

Head Grower Dan Holmes is placing the last flats of Chinese cabbage on the table.

The fresh greens of late spring have been supplanted by richly-colored root vegetables.

Head Grower Caroline Fanning, Ada and Kobi are greeting members as they arrive. Ada is contently snacking on a sweet red pepper.

Susan Salem is stocking the tables with lush, leafy heads of red lettuce. Susan manages the weekend distribution and always offers a friendly smile and a smart tip on how to prepare a vegetable.

My friend George Garbarini is sorting the heads of garlic we picked last July that have since been curing in the Red Barn. “This is the best time of year to work at the farm,” he tells me. “Even better than spring.”

And, the distribution tent’s resident rooster watches over all the action with an air of regal detachment.

As always, things continue to germinate at Restoration Farm. Caroline is already thinking about ordering seeds and attending winter conferences. Dan tells me a new field has just been cleared.

It is not the end, but a transition. For the community at Restoration Farm, there will be soon be garlic planting, perhaps another pot luck and a bonus Thanksgiving distribution for members who have signed up for next season. And, I’ll reach deep into my basement freezer chest for foods that remind me of the place and the people that characterized the growing season of 2011. Life at Restoration Farm continues and we are well fed.

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Tracy's Living Cookbook said...

There is a beautiful feeling of 'abundant harvest' in your post today. Beautiful! I love the fall season.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

The look on the rooster's face says it all. Things are winding down and it's nippy out here.

BTW, those are some fine looking carrots. The ones we get with the tops still on are scrawny compared to those.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Thank you for sharing another season at Restoration Farm with us. Like all special places, the farm needs someone to tell its story, and I can't imagine a better storyteller than you. I hope you've signed up for next year.

~~louise~~ said...

There haven't been many times I have been homesick since moving to PA, T.W. but this post, oh my, I long to visit Restoration Farm.

You have made us all a part of the ever evolving transformation and I for one am truly grateful!!!

Thank you so much for sharing, T.W.

Gloria Baker said...

I love all the pictures look amazing!!! gloria

Kat said...

How wonderful to enjoy such a harvests. I love the photo of the Rooster. And I am so jealous of those beautiful carrots!

Barbara said...

What a lovely post. It made me happy just to read it and look at your photos. Those are nice fat hens (you had some great roast chicken dishes this fall) and those carrots look beautiful.
I do love your posts about Restoration Farm and I love visiting it with you.

tasteofbeirut said...

It is wonderful to be involved in such a project, even more so when it is from the outside; the farm and its active members seem so idyllic, especially for a foodie.

Velva said...

I don't even have to say how much I enjoy the Restoration Farm posts...growing food, sharing food and eating together is what makes it all happen.

I can tell that the weather has grown cooler and although the vegetables are winding down there is plenty of amazing vegetables. I was googling over the abundance of swiss chard.


Unknown said...

Love the colors of the fall produce...look so fresh and healthy

Unknown said...

A bittersweet homage to another season wrapped up, TW. Thankfully, this weekend's garlic planting hints and the new season to come. Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely post with us!
Beautiful pictures of the farm & of the produce!

Catherine said...

Dear T.W., I spent many a pleasant walk at the Old Bethpage Restoration. I was sorry when the gift shop closed and it seemed that so many of the old houses were closing. I am so glad. It seems now that the village is finding new and vibrant life. I am happy. Blessings, Catherine

Mary Bergfeld said...

I love how involved you become with the folks you write about. The farm is a source of nourishment and friendship for you and your writing reflects that.I really enjoy visiting here. Have a wonderful week. Blessings...Mary

Fresh Local and Best said...

Each growing season is like the cycle of life, sprouting, growing, ripening, and then storing its energy for next year. The pictures and stories are beautiful and inspiring. Everyone at Restoration Farm must be so proud of their commitment and hard work.