I’m a little bit obsessed with farms and farming as most people who know me or read this blog are aware. I find an incredible peace in the landscape of farms and a deep energy emanating from soil treated with love and respect. In this world where it’s so easy to get disconnected from ourselves and others, it’s so grounding and calming to get back to basics on the land and feel connected to that life force. I feel that same energy when I’m in the ocean surfing. It’s quiet and expansive and you are surrounded by pure life and energy that you can touch.
A few weeks ago I went with my friends, Carolina Santos-Neves, a chef and partner at Comodo and Colonia Verde in New York and Sean Barrett, a founder of Dock to Dish to visit Stone Barns just north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. Sean knows the gang over at Stone Barns really well as he supplies Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Dan Barber’s imaginative and award-winning restaurant with fresh sustainable seafood from Long Island, so we had the honor of visiting the grounds and the farm on a day it was closed to the public. We had a magical afternoon. The place is so idyllic you half expect the plants and the animals to start talking to you, like in that other ‘magic kingdom’ we used to go to as kids.
A lot of thought has gone into every aspect of Stone Barns, from how the animals are raised, to how the compost is treated and used. The heat generated from the compost is used to grow seedlings and even cook mushrooms for dishes that are served at Blue Hill and then good scraps, like racks of fresh fish that Sean brings from his Community Supported Fishery operations in Montauk are recycled back into the compost making a rich soil.
In this utopia everything seems to be part of a cycle. For hours, Sean and Carolina and I wandered and drifted and got lost over the expansive grounds, cellphone-less leaving each other notes to find one another but not even trying that hard, we each got into our own cycle and were all exactly where we needed to be.
Some reading for lovers of plants, farms and life:
Dan Barber’s THE THIRD PLATE is packed with really interesting stories and insights into how we could be living and eating more sustainably.
THIS COMMON GROUND by Scott Chaskey who runs Quail Hill Farm one of the first CSA’s in the country is a favorite for Sean. It inspired him to start his business and is at the top of my reading list for the summer.
Some of my favorite places for ideas on what to cook with all that amazing produce from your local farms and CSA’s this summer:
VEGETABLE LITERACY by Deborah Madison
CHEZ PANISSE VEGETABLES by Alice Waters
LA TARTINE GOURMAND by Béatrice Peltre
THE FIRST MESS -Laura Wright’s beautiful and inspiring vegan blog.