It all starts with a text. “Mags, what’s in the garden this week?” The three flashing dots will strum while Maggie compiles a list of which items are at the peak of freshness, the number of veggies ripe for the picking growing steadily with the season’s progression. While some of these items are a given - garlic scapes in April, tomatoes in July and August, kale just about always - the farm is always at the mercy of mother nature, and we never know just what will be on hand until two to three days prior to the cooking class. This is part of what makes my role in the experience so much fun, the challenge of taking a list of ingredients and quickly weaving together a meal that I hope showcases a cooking technique or two and inspires our attendees to cook on a whim with the vegetables at their fingertips. Thankfully, ‘what grows together goes together,’ making my task that much more natural and this concept is one of the many gardening philosophies Maggie shares as we explore both her kitchen garden as well as the gardens of Pavel, one of Foxhollow’s Partner-Growers.
After I send over a menu proposal to Maggie we divvy up the few ingredients we will source off the farm and give Pavel a head’s up that we will be touring his fields and hoop houses. Once everyone arrives (and orders a glass of wine or beer if they so choose!) we make our way to the gardens, generally stopping first in Maggie’s kitchen garden where we duck through her green bean laden archways to harvest from her prolific pepper patches, abundant herb beds and wild cherry tomato plants. Impressive in scale to be sure, Maggie’s garden offers a good comparison to our next stop, Pavel’s garden, where he operates an extensive vegetable farming business. We gain an understanding of how his business operates year round and a glimpse at what it takes to be a full time farmer (spoiler alert - it isn’t a cakewalk!).
With full baskets we make our way back to the Foxhollow community space and begin our cooking demonstration. If you’re lucky we’ll pass out nibbles of the vegetables we’ve gathered as we cook and we may even ask you to lend a hand with forming meatballs or plucking coriander seeds off of dried cilantro plants. We save the best for last when everyone sits down for a small but mighty sampling of the farm fresh meal we’ve crafted together. After all, Maggie and I believe that good food is meant to be shared and we look forward to celebrating food and farming with you at our next class!