50’s outside meant 70’s in the high tunnel and plenty to harvest. What a wondrous day for the last day of January. Once I got done with my have-to’s in the AM, I made an executive decision to ignore my need-to’s in the house and spend a few hours working in the high tunnel and the garden. I was richly rewarded. Salad greens, edible flowers, and Jerusalem artichokes will be heading to the restaurant with the chef tomorrow. The weekend’s Jerusalem artichoke chowder was a sell-out hit. It was great to get my hands into the earth and go treasure hunting for them. Mother Nature does a great job of keeping them crisp and fresh for whenever we need them. The “candy carrots” are sweet and crisp. In addition to the harvest, I loved seeing a dandelion in the high tunnel and some beautiful magenta kales.
By some twists of fate, I have become the person primarily in charge of a wine menu at our successful (who knew!) Italian Restaurant. I knew nothing about wine, let alone the intricacies of Italian wine and pairing it with food, but I am a nerd and librarian. If info and know-how can be gleaned by study, I will be ok. So, I studied and we have a nice wine menu.
One of the often talked about aspects of wine, is terrior. Terrior refers to the characteristics of a wine that come from the soil, water, air, etc. of the place it comes from. In other words, if I grow pinot noir on my farm here in Indiana and someone else grows it in Napa, the two will be different because of different places they come from. (And mine wil be very bad.) Everything from the quality of sunlight to minerals in the soil influence and add nuance to the flavors of wine.
What does this have to do with my farm blog? As I was scanning the produce this evening with an eye toward the summer camp lunch I will pack for my daughter tomorrow, I reminded myself about the awesome carrots I picked up from Daniel and Melissa Fagerstrom–the farmers at The Green Gate Garden at Fair Oaks Farm. Not only have I been able to see them at my local farmer’s market, I made the trip to Fair Oaks to see their beautiful gardens and to see firsthand how they are working to make a beautiful and self-sufficient teaching garden at the growing local attraction. They are an amazing little family of three (they have a Lily too!) and I have had a couple enjoyable philosophical conversations with them.
Having walked their garden, I know how beautifully tended it is, how diverse, and how well amended with the more than ample manure available to them. So, as I glance at those beautiful carrots and remind myself to tell Lily where they came from tomorrow, it dawns on me that one of the most amazing aspects to my locavore journey is the ability to appreciate how terrior deepens our appreciation of our food. The Fagerstroms’ carrots will not only taste different from the ones we grow, but I get the added value of remembering the earth they came from, rich in compost, and know the people who sowed, grew, and picked them.
The terrior of a carrot. What a joy!
We are lucky here im Tippecanoe to have some winter “bonus” farmer’s markets. Today was one of them, so I went down and saw some of my favorite local food producers. My number 1 item on the list–kale. I even e-mailed Ginny Markle and asked her to bring extra for me. I have been quickly going through my dehydrated stash and knew we could use a lot more. It is the perfect “stealth” ingredient to add to most anything–just this week I added it to meatloaf and soup and last week to eggplant parmesan.
Here are some photos of the mountain of kale I am dehydrating this weekend along with some honeycrisp apples and some baby carrots I got this morning. Kale is off the charts nutritious- a true superfood. check it out for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kale