Monday, April 29, 2013
Things are starting to percolate. The temperatures are warming, and atoms are vibrating faster! Our frogs at the farm are mating, loudly. Ducks are in rows.
I've been meeting with lots of inspiring people, doing lots of farm visits and trying to expand our reach to better our work; both at Saipua and at the farm at Worlds End. First there was Ben's farm in South Jersey (which is going to get it's own very special post on the Little Flower School site soon...) Ben is a grower/wholesaler and he may be the last of them in the NYC market. He has been a special mentor of sorts to me, and visiting his farm was something I've wanted to do for ages. I finally made the time to go with Nicolette and we were deeply rewarded.
Then yesterday I met Shannon Algiere, the grower at Stone Barns. She helped me to not feel weird about planting by the zodiac and shared so much of her growing practices and knowledge. Sometimes when I meet certain people I think, how am I so lucky?
There was the same feeling later in the day and further up the river in Garrison when I sat down for lunch with the owners of Fresh Company. These women might be my new favorite foodies, their inspired menus are thoroughly customized; no foam, no frills. I want to recommend them to absolutely everyone.
Shelly sent me off with a handful of asparagus from her garden, and Shannon a few finger sized carrots. Munching these, speeding up the thruway last night to the farm I thought to myself WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN??? How are these things connected? You know I've been mildly allergic to the wedding industry, but then I thought HERE IT IS! - a different side of it - right in front of me! It just looks a bit different from the wedding blogs, and it's not always frolicking in a floral haircrown. It's my own kind of wedding industry, inspired, down to earth people lending knowledge, growing things, making things in their own ways. Unique and terrific. Nuanced, hard to pin down and extraordinary.
With wedding season nearly here, I am looking forward to sharing all these good things with my brides (and you). I'm heading out to plan a bed for all my nasturtium seedlings, which hopefully will find a place in the salad Shelly will make for Julia's wedding in September.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Time marches on, it does. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful.
In the house of Saipua we've been working with extraordinary flowers, photoshooting in mansions, holding baby chicks, presenting to clients, taking turns getting sick and preparing for spring at the farm. I am up here at Worlds End for most of my days from now on. I should sublet our apartment in the city, but that would require cleaning it. Next...!
Nicolette and I made some really gorgeous pictures at an incredible house in Sharon Springs over the weekend that we can't wait to show you. I realize I need to exercise that part of my creativity more - making whatever photos I want with NO restraints. This simply means the next shoot will be even creepier. I joke. Moving right along...
I have a speaking engagement this Friday evening at The Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut. Which will probably be the first Friday night out on the town I've had in years. Since I've been upstate I realized I have no suitable clothes at the farm to wear to Connecticut. I threw a pity party for myself. It was a party with a theme: not having the time to take care of myself, time to look good, cut my hair, etc. Surprisingly, no one showed up except Eric who promptly dragged me out on his Albany/Schenectady thrift circuit. I now have a rayon floral pantsuit and a practically new pair of Naturalizers to fit the bill. Too legit to quit!!!
If your in the Hartford area I urge you to visit the museum over the weekend. My Edvard Munch inspired arrangement (along with a smattering of other floral/art renditions) will be on view along with a rare exhibition of five Carravaggio works, and Bill Viola's iconic video Ascension.
Also I want to come clean to tell you the other big thing in my life. Which is Downton Abbey. I realize I am the last person in the world to come around to this, but lonely nights in the city made me fall prey.
Shit is infiltrating my LIFE. I've been putting flowers under glass cloches and using lots of asparagus fern. I've started using phrases like "oh my darling" to refer to loved ones and after dinner said out loud "shall we go through?"
"Through to where?" Eric said.
Friends, I took a walking stick with me into the woods.
But I draw the line at my wardrobe. Come on.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Our plant sale last weekend felt so momentous, I want to thank you all who came out, spread the word, and brought home little gems to help with our tractor fund. We sold almost all the plants in the first few hours of Saturday, and Sunday I brought in a big part of my personal collection to put up for the cause. We raised around $4,000 in profits! After a week packed with phone calls to friends, dealers, and farmers we've settled on a new John Dheere 5055e with a bucket, brush hog and 47" roto tiller. Field flowers here we come!
Many thanks to the amazing growers/greenhouses we visited to collect all these beauties...Lloyd, Candy and Stephanie at Peace Tree, Roger at R&C Wholesale Nurseries in Ludlow, MA the nice people at Atlantic Nursery, and Angel Plants. (Note: all these places are wholesale only, so you can only shop if you have a resale certificate. If you don't, see below for a great plant source...) Thanks to Anna for making the rope plant hangers, and to Elizabeth, our new intern who packed plants for 8 hours on Saturday without a break.
The following pictures are from Judy Becker's Lauray greenhouse in Salisbury, CT. You need to visit her little nursery if you ever find yourself trolling through the Hudson Valley on your way to the Berkshires. Call first - she's a one woman show. She has an incredible selection of small cuttings from her stock of rhizomatous begonias, cacti, and succulents along with a smattering of slightly larger plants kicking around.
I'm signing off my computer for the weekend. We're expecting our first spring workday crew here at the farm in a few hours. The temperatures are warming and there are countless things waiting to happen.
Someone asked about my kale salad recipe:
1 bunch of nice laciano (dinosaur) kale washed dried, cut in very thin (1/4-12 inch ribbons)
for the dressing:
1 clove of garlic and smash it with some kosher or maldon salt. using the edge of a big chopping knife.
I put that in a big bowl and drizzle about 1-2tsp of champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar, or the juice of 1/2 a lemon depending on whats around) over, let it sit to macerate for 20 minutes.
Then I wisk in about 1 tsp of mayonaise
Then I wisk in around 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Then I wisk in a tiny bit of water to level it off, make it nice. Someone told me to do this once, and though counter intuitive to me at least, it works wonders to make a dressing finished.
Meanwhile I'm toasting some chopped hazelnuts, burning them, tossing them in the compost and then toasting new ones.
The kale goes in the big bowl with the dressing and gets massaged with my hands to mix well and get the leaves to relax a bit.
Then I grate an inordinate amount of pecarino romano cheese in there.
Then I take the nuts out and throw them right on while they are very hot - this helps wilt -- in only the slightest, best way, some of that kale.