Pass The Salt: Finding Community at the Table

Yesterday evening, I spoke with Kaitlin Glass, owner of Batch Seventeen [a small, organic bakery out of Santa Rosa] about possibly working with us on our next farm dinner event. She mentioned a new recipe for maple oat scones that riled up compliments from everyone at the table who had had the pleasure of tasting them. How could I not, then, want to try them myself…..? For work purposes, of course! Being that I'm not much on sweets though, we discussed a trade; A food exchange. I remarked on a crispy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookie recipe I had been perfecting, and she didn't hesitate to accept them in trade!

While on my way to work a few days before this, I began to think about our new Uruguayan ranch hand, Manolo. Oddly enough you may think, we have a few vegetarians on this farm. I happen to be one of them, Manolo happens to be another. He's been staying with our Ranch Manager, George, for the last week; A bonafide meat eater. The last time George and I talked food, he confessed to eating 3 sausages for a meal. My southern roots and inherent need to feed and nourish people began rolling over all the dishes I could make to share with Manolo this week. A 50's version of the housewife welcoming new neighbors to town with a pie flashed through my head. I giggled a little but it struck me then that some of what I've gained by not only working on Tara Firma Farms but with other people who believe in supporting community, is a real community. We are a farm, that part is obvious. We make little money, we work long days and we take on far too many projects but there is one thing we always have time for; eating.

Today, I drove down to work a little bit early. I bubbled up a kettle of water for some of my favorite Irish black tea. A spot of cream and a dollop of sugar topped it off; giving it the same comforting feeling it used to give me while I curled up in front of the fireplace of my home in Ireland. Who wouldn't want to share that feeling with someone? So I made a mug for Craig's son, Spencer, and the morning concluded with the sounds of hens clucking and 2 people cautiously sipping. In the afternoon, Diana, our Customer Service Rep, helped me make my first ever bowl of egg salad. We shared it with our fabulous IT guy, Jason, over gluten-free bread, earthy lettuce and our sweet and acidic cherry tomatoes from the farm store. This is a regular occurrence for us, here on the farm. We make food, share food, and buy each other food, without ever giving it a second thought. If someone has a rough day, you make them lunch. If someone has a rough week, you buy them enough food to make easy dinners for the next 5 days! And it doesn't end here. Like my exchange with Kaitlin, I have taken to seeing my community by its community members, not just store fronts. I welcome meeting new people and learning how our businesses or our relationships can support each other. Working on this seemingly small, family-operated farm has restored a sense of purpose in myself as well as taught me the value of community and nurturing those relationships… Oh and how to make a really mean bowl of summer squash chili, and the perfect hard-boiled egg. Oh! Oh! And then there’s the grilled sweet potato with onion and olive oil! Or the yummiest gluten-free blueberry crisp ANYONE could ever possibly consume! "Green Drink" made with our garden-fresh kale and cucumbers! And, well, you get the picture. Enjoy building your own community, and expanding your recipe book!

-Your Resident Meat-Farmer Vegetarian, Charlotte.