October 4, 2016 Missive from J.K. Farm
Here it is October. There could be frost any day now. I planted my garden in that fit of optimism that happens every spring. Then, we had no rain for 9 weeks, practically the entire summer! The bounty of the garden evaporated in my mind like the morning dew. I gave up on my garden this year, opting instead to parse what precious little water was in the well for less “extravagant” uses. I began to have conversations about how one collects water on a farm. The experience of this summer has galvanized me into action. I have this notion to create an artful water collection system. It will be like sculpture, pleasing to see as part of the landscape, but serving the practical purpose of collecting water in the spring and fall, when it is plentiful, and storing it for use in the summer where we are prone to drought. Very exciting!
So here it is October and nature never ceases to amaze. It was like the garden was somehow in stasis all summer, barely staying alive. Now, with a bit of rain in August and September the garden responds. Several passes through the tomato patch have yielded the deepest red, most beautiful tomatoes that now have been transformed into litres upon litres of sauce, the taste of which is indescribably delicious. Oxheart, an heirloom variety, so sweet and dense as not to be believed, fried in hot oil and served, melting, with freshly dug potatoes I thought had not survived the drought. Hungarian peppers, another unexpected crop this year that will begin their lactic fermentation soon and will ameliorate any number of dishes consumed this winter. These are amazing gifts! I am in awe of this resurgence of vigour and fruit. Some of this newly discovered bounty will find its way into this Saturday’s ultimate dinner of the year. The ground cherries and the incredibly fragrant parsley and thyme will grace the pumpkin dessert and roast porchetta.
As the season draws to a close, I am thankful for so much. I reflect on the season that is nearly over. Not enough time has yet passed to fully appreciate the contribution of so many to the success of this series. Suffice to say that the collective passion displayed by my team each week to produce these events has been remarkable. There is a moment each week, just before the doors open in the loafing barn and our performance begins, where I have a chance to glimpse the culmination of the team effort. The tables look beautiful, how they speak of the here and now, our community focused expression of gastronomy about to unfold. Then there is the other half of this delicious equation. I am so thankful for the support all of our guests have shown week after week as the series played out over the summer. In the parlance of “Slow Food”, they are co-producers. Their support goes beyond the dining experience and into the community to all of the growers and artisans that collectively define this evolution in food culture and rural economies. There is much to reflect on in the colder months ahead. We plan to continue the dining series next year. There are many people to involve, so many we didn’t get to this year. Soon it will be spring and that fit of optimism will kick in again and the dining series will once again be underway.
photos by @chefjamiekennedy and @vicvvvic