A funny thing happens when you step on a farm and you're as removed as I am from your food. Sure I read the required texts on food, The Omnivore's Dilemma
, Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food
and the like. I cherish home-cooked meals, dine out at great restaurants, and tote my discerning "quality" requirements with me to local markets. Is it local? Is it organic? Is it natural?
All these terms evaporate at a farm; they lose their meaning in the realness, the tangibility of the source.
Dressed for a day of mid-winter skiing due to the frigid March weather, I stepped into the greenhouse at Goose River Greenery
and was suffocated by the hot air. Amateur mistake, to be sure. But as the day proceeded I was truly humbled by my ignorance. I had never planted before. I had never seen "germination." I realized I had hardly ever truly meditated on the fact that people actually plants seeds for everything from eggplants to coriander to basil, and nurture them, tend to them, record their growth, depend, even, on their robustness. Intellectually, I knew all this to be true, I just hadn't ever held the soil and seeds in my own hands. It was embarrassing that I could care so much about food abstractly and yet have had no experience with the physical, practical process of it.
I hope to spend many more days at Goose River Greenery this spring and summer - more planting, more observing, more interaction between me and what I consume. Thankfully the Annis family who owns and operates the farm didn't judge me for my ignorance. Rather they left me to do my own scolding. Like most Mainers, they were extremely generous and patient in imparting their knowledge.
I'm sure the basil I will use to make pesto this summer will taste miraculously better knowing its terroir - both the physical land and its nurturers - first hand.
Living in Maine we're all within an hour's drive of a farm, and we should all take the time to reconnect, or, in my case, connect with the source of our sustenance.Goose River Greenery (535 Main St., Rockport, 207-230-0333) opens next month and sells a plethora of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and plants.
Check out the MOFGA list of CSAs
as a starting point to find a friendly farm near you.