Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Farm to Table For Real

This week I've taken on a big job. I'm care-taking an urban farm east of Boulder.

When the opportunity was presented to me, I was well aware of the work involved, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone and
give it a go!

I say "comfort zone" because even though I grew up in rural Australia, we didn't have a rooster or chickens, or goats. Though we had a huge garden, only a small portion was dedicated to fruit and nut trees, fruit vines, and herbs.

And our veggie patch came later, after I'd left home, and then it was probably a tenth the size of the veggie garden I'm looking after this week.

So the wide-open space of the property is familiar, as is the care of 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 fish, and the extensive watering of the flower and veggie gardens.

But feeding the 2 goats, the 24 free- range chickens, and twice daily collecting their eggs, while keeping a vigilant eye out for nasty Rocky, the aggressive rooster, is all kinda new and different, and lots of fun.

Barbara, who owns the farm with her husband Morris, is an incredibly skilled and talented gardener. She supplies vegetables and strawberries to one local restaurant in Boulder, and she has regular customers who come by daily to pick and purchase vegetables as well as her chicken eggs.

When I came out to see the farm for the first time, I knew I'd be in my element fossicking in the vegetable garden for cucumbers, runner beans, chard, curly kale, tomatoes, broccoli, artichokes, eggplant, peppers, basil, parsley, squash and more, then creating spontaneous meals from what I'd picked.

What I discovered for real is that there is something profoundly satisfying about collecting one's food from the source, walking a few yards to the kitchen, and transforming that food into a meal bursting with flavor, and vibrating with energy.

In fact, so profoundly satisfying, the regular order of my life this week is beginning to fade in favor of the daily rhythm and routine of farm life. With the result: I've been asking myself, "How did I become so disconnected from the land?" Well, I know how, but that's another story.

I have a number of friends who've dug up their backyards this year and grown very impressive flower and vegetable gardens. It's the trend, a backlash even to the rising price of grocery-store and farmer's-market produce, and the slump in the economy.

And as I'm discovering, it's also personally rewarding, a great perspective enhancer and natural stress reliever, plus you can't beat the savings and the flavor of growing your own!

Within 24-hours of assuming my care-taker role, I'd spent an afternoon foraging in the vegetable garden, picking a basket of food for that evening. There were no deliberations over what to prepare for dinner, no trips to the grocery store for ingredients, nor did I need to refer to a recipe book (which I tend not to do anyway).

I simply made a number of dishes with what I'd picked, ensuring that the flavors of the vegetables were enhanced by using a spattering of herbs and minimal seasoning.

This week, I'll post pictures and method recipes for the various dishes I made and which I spontaneously shared with the friends I mention above, who, as I said, have their own flower and veggie gardens -- though each was nevertheless blown away at the beauty of Barbara's extraordinary garden.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a satisfying experience this must be -- you see what needs picking and that determines what you eat! What a sensory delight-- especially for chef types like yourself who can whip up most anything out of whatever looks ripe! Thanks for the lucious description!