Broadwing

Mist rises up from barren snowy fields and the sheep huddle underneath their artful shelter as rain drizzles all the day long. I'm snuggling up next to the wood stove at Broadwing Farm this week while farmers Annie and Sean are away on a little "honeymoon" to the Catskills. While they have a little retreat in the country, I get to do the same at their place. Sure, I have to tend to a few farm duties, but for a few days at a time, this is more like a lifestyle blogger's paradise than a chore. 

A cozy, dimly-lit day was just what I needed after the chaos of the last couple weeks. Zach and I are officially out of our West Reading apartment and living in limbo before we leave for Ecuador next week. In the course of the last three years (three years! how did that happen?!) we sure accumulated a lot of stuff. We spent the last few weeks slowly disassembling our living space and forcing unwanted things on friends (thanks to all who helped, especially Jenna, who swooped in from NYC to haul out the last of our belongings and scrub the behind the fridge while I went to work). Dodads and trinkets and trash and treasures all dealt with now, I can finally relax into the next phase of our grand adventure. 

The dreary day has me thinking and reminiscing and dreaming--what wonderful people and places we are leaving behind as we move on to Seattle. It took me three years to find my community here in Berks County, and leaving now is bittersweet. Broadwing Farm and the farmers that run it will always hold a special place in our hearts. Thanks, guys, for making us part of all the funky, fun, creative, and inspirational endeavors. We're sure gonna miss your little country oasis. 

Between feeding the sheep, giddily watching the skittish new piglets, and stoking the fire over the last couple of days, I raided the root cellar and the freezer and dreamed up a delicious dish composed of little besides what came from this very farm. Being down at the farm inspires a rustic simplicity in cooking. No fancy imported spices or highly processed anything. To eat is to enjoy the bounty that this land produced over the course of a year. A purely terroir meal. I only wish the farmers were here to enjoy it with us. Here's to Broadwing!

Tucked in Tight

The first frost always comes with a flurry of activity on the farm. Swaths of "spunbound" polyester fabric get unfurled and stretched over metal hoops, protecting the delicate greens underneath.  The farmer makes a calculated wager, deciding what is worth saving and what can be left to the elements, and what, alas, will see its end by the bite of freezing temperatures. It is a major investment in both time and money to blanket a farm in row cover---and there is only so much of each to go around. 

This year, the first frost came Saturday night, and it was a hard one. Friday, in addition to our routine market harvest, we spent the day readying the farm for freeze--the choreographed hoop-and-cover dance that we haven't rehearsed since the spring. 

I usually hate the job of row covering. My rough hands cling to the synthetic fibers of the fabric (my personal nails-on-chalkboard irritation). My back hurts from bending repetitively every five feet to install another hoop. My lungs get itchy from the dusty sheets recovered from the corners of the barn. The wind yanks a cover from my hand, undoing the work I just did and tearing a hole in the brand new length of Agribon. The wind always picks up as if it knows what we're doing. And its always the end of the day. 

This time walking the long rows of beautiful greens as I poked metal hoops into hard ground, it felt really good to be tucking the veggies in tight. As we finished a field of hoops, I paused for a moment and looked up. The sun dipped below the tree line at the edge of the property and the field of kale looked touched by gold. Rows of white row cover in the distance glowed in the low light. A breeze tickled the inside of my nose and numbed your ears with its chill, but the hint of solar warmth still lingered. The sweetness of the season distilled in this moment. There's nothing like the fall. And there's nothing like fall on the farm.