Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Food as Art

with Granddaddy in the garden

I think I was just two or three years old the first time I ever planted a seed.

So, I can safely say that I’ve spent my life involved in some sort of food production.  Between us, the Boss and I have ages of experience growing food.  Did you read  this one?

As a kid, I really just thought of food as well…food.  You planted the garden and tended it, it grew, you harvested it, and you ate it.  It didn’t really matter what it looked like.  Especially if you were hungry! You can read about that HERE.

That changed with our foray into the world of restaurant sales.

We started selling to restaurants long before “farm-to-table” was a thing. KNOW YOUR FARMER, KNOW YOUR FOOD had yet to be uttered.  Nobody really cared about local food.  Well, except in Berkley.  Alice Waters at Chez Panisse  (Berkley, CA) and the Herbfarm in Washington State are considered the  true pioneers of the movement, and they’d been pursuing local food for quite some time.

…but, I digress. 
fresh from the garden

We weren’t looking to make a statement or start a revolution. Our venture into restaurant sales was but one more attempt to make our fledgling farm a profitable entity. We joined a small group of growers who took the plunge and introduced the chefs to the wonder of fresh…really fresh…vegetables.  

The chefs, in turn, introduced the growers to a whole new way of looking at produce.

even if you don't like veggies
you've got to admit
this is gorgeous!

Vegetables weren’t just valued as a source of nutrition.  They could be beautiful as well. This was eye-opening to me. 

check out the size of that ZUCCHINI!

Having grown up eating from the home garden, I was accustomed to zucchini that could double as baseball bats (or canoes), peas the size of marbles and greens that needs hours of cooking to soften them.  But, when picked at much earlier stages of maturity, vegetables were a whole new taste experience. I began to look at the garden in a whole new light.

Young, tender...FRESH...vegetables are things of wonder.
this little zucchini will be the perfect size

…and the taste difference is extraordinary.

After three seasons of juggling restaurant sales and the Market, we narrowed our focus to strictly Market sales. The reactions to "restaurant stuff" at the Market was priceless. We actually heard "I ain't never seen nuthin' like THAT bee-fur!" more than once.  While the restaurants were willing to pay top dollar, we liked the true personal interaction of the Market better. It was there we got immediate feedback, a chance to educate the public and the exchange of some delicious and delightful recipes.

beautiful back-lit chard

But, once you start to see vegetables as a chef might...

…you will never go back to zucchini canoes or marble-sized peas. 

Over time, our varietal choices began to change as well, as we searched for eye-catching as well as the tasty.

The efforts have paid off because our customers say we have beautiful vegetables. Post-harvest care plays a huge part in the presentation of beautiful vegetables.  It also allows them to last far longer for the customer. (this is why we hydro-cool everything and keep it all in the cooler prior to sale) And, there's just something satisfying about a cooler full of produce prior to Market day.

Dealing with the chefs allowed us to see that harvest isn’t just a chore...

                      …it’s an ever changing experience in beauty!

Lessons Learned:

Bigger is not necessarily better.

Fresh food is amazing!

Food should be beautiful as well as delicious.

I love my job!

Be sure to check in with the 30 day Ag blogging challenge...right HERE!


  1. You have such a mine of information there Barbara - and how my mouth waters at the photo of that asparagus!

  2. Great blog. I'm looking forward to getting my garden going again in a few short months.