Today I watched an episode in a PBS series that was educational and enjoyable: “Endless Feast.” It’s a series on sustainable farming, both crops and meat, combined with culinary talents of local chefs culminating in a lavish open air meals in picturesque settings across North America. Each episode shows the connection of local natural foods from the land to the plate with viewers visiting each of the local sustainable farms that are contributing to the feast. We meet the farmers and growers, the wine makers and cheese makers and the chef to learn more about their farming methods, philosophies and commitment to sustainable farming.
Today’s episode took place in Virginia at Delfosse Vinyards and Winery in Faber, a 30-minute drive south of Charlottesville. A five-course meal of liver, rabbit, chicken, pork, goat cheese and fresh produce was prepared on site by local chef, Gail Hobbs-Page. A visit to Blue Heron Farm in Nellysford showed growers, Keith Dix and Beverley Lacey harvesting organic eggplant, butternut squash, flowers and herbs, all the while sharing their passions for sustainability. We met Ramona Huff of Gryffon’s Aerie, Crozet, VA and her free-range heritage pigs and hear how her animals are humanely treated, no antibiotics, and are grass fed with a bit of corn added to the diet. We visit the owners of Polyface Farm, Swoope, VA, Joel and Daniel Salatin, providers of rabbits and chickens for the meal, whose farm was featured in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. We were shown the portable chicken coops with chickens that share the same grass as the cattle. Chickens feed on insects in the grass and distribute their droppings to naturally fertilize the same grass the cows will later feed upon. Even the 10-year old Delfosse Vinyards and Winery is making great strides to be good stewards of the land.
During the groaning board meal, guests heard the chef and owners talk about the origins of the ingredients in each dish, the Polyface confit of rabbit on butternut risotto and Gryffon’s Aerie pork with grilled vegetable ratatouille, including how ingredients are grown or raised and prepared for the meal. Call it Real Food, Slow Farming or From Farm to Table, it is all about Sustainable Living.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester