Food to Live For

Have you heard?  The latest space station mission included testing on one of my favorite greens that Ryan grows – Mizuna, a mild Asian mustard.  When harvested young, it is tender and subtly warming, but not overly tangy or sharp. I love it with a delicious dose of fat — from that steak, olive oil or a creamy dressing — and maybe some salty, buttery mashed potatoes.

sweet, Spring Mizuna ready for harvest, 2020 (+ that sneaky blade of grass)

“She conducted research in microgravity on Mizuna mustard greens, examining the role of gravity and space on whole-plant health, cellular development and tissue growth. Perhaps [most importantly, she also looked at how growing plants affects human community. Humans bond over food, and being able to grow food in space could be important to social dynamics] during future long-duration crewed missions to the moon or Mars.”

(New York Times, Mary Robinette Kowal, 2/6/20)

This quote seems so obviously to point to the fact that food is probably one of the founding cultural lineages with which humanity has evolved (I am citing my own observations on this one).  The connections that surround the preparation and consumption of food is one of the reasons Ryan began growing produce. Food has always been a foundation in my family — this thing we can learn and teach, this labor that connects us to our traditions, and this offering we can share, even when times are lean.

I connected to horticulture back while studying architecture, and I have come to believe it is one of those holders of our history as mammals surviving in the wilderness. Passing on methods of cultivating local landscapes is vital to our survival as a widely dispersed species. Too often, the colonizing of the world has gutted traditional methods of agriculture and food sourcing, which are well attuned to the seasons, crops and cultural needs of the people. In America, the last century has seen small-scale farms struggle and many fail, while fewer people garden and food is shipped from far across the country. On our farm, we aim to feed and flower local people.

Our practices in the garden and the kitchen shape who we become as people and how we will share that with others in our lives. When we start a meal with tasty fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients, we are that many steps closer to a delicious end result. If you didn’t grow up in a household of happy cooks or experimental eaters, it can really be intimidating to look at all the options at a grocery store and wonder how to get a full meal from it. Ryan has a really simple approach to meals, while I enjoy layering flavors and technique through the cook. So if you are a beginner, try one of Ryan’s classics:

Naked Acre Farm Meal:

+ Protein (usually sausage or ground beef, or whole cuts of meat)

+ Vegetable (broccoli, big braising greens, carrots… pull it out of the fridge, you cook it!)

+ Potatoes, onions

+ additional ingredients: butter, cheese, salt + pepper, oil for pan

Heat fat in pan. If using onion, add and cook to slight transparency. Add protein and potatoes (or other hard root crops — carrots, rutabaga, kohlrabi, etc.). Brown over a medium heat until golden. Season while mixture cooks with salt and pepper (plus whatever flavor you’re feelin, aka what is in the cupboard!) If you notice sticking, add some water or broth. Place lightly chopped green veggies on top and cover. Turn off heat and steam for a few minutes until greens are super bright green (cooked, but not depleted of nutrition).

Now you get to add some grated cheese, more salt and pepper, freshly grated carrot, apple, or herbs…..whatever you think will make all the flavors mesh together to satisfy your tastebuds and your energy needs. Buon appetito!!

and, as always, Cheers!

– G

Winter. Spring.

It’s been such a snowy year. From the amazingly early, deep Snowvember to the current 30″ + covering field and forest, this has been an epic year for local skiers, riders and outdoor enthusiasts. The thing about snow, is it covers up all the things. It lays to rest unfinished projects, piles of building materials, and the new field we didn’t quite have time to flip last Autumn. In this way, snow evens the landscape, allowing us to travel to places nearly impossible to visit when it’s warm. I feel fortunate to have taken time in between projects and winter work to hop on my skis and glide through the swampy sections of forest and visit some favorite lines in some nearby state forestlands.

It is truly Spring by the calendar, and by the amazing Full Sugar Moon (or Crow Moon, or Crust Moon, or…), the final full moon of Winter, becoming full on the very first day of Spring! The last few days it has risen to illuminate a landscape reemerging from the depths of this snowy season. I am excitedly embracing the shift, and each patch of driveway or grass or mud lightens the load of winter. Those once quieted projects from Autumn now speak up and demand attention to get the farm in order for the coming season.

Check back soon to see how the new greenhouse looks full of fresh starts. Until then, enjoy these last lingering snowy days, and thank the heavens for changing seasons.

soon, we will see the ground again! This is April 2018, right before it snowed again (haha)