This past Sunday we had the very good fortune to be invited to a Farm to Table Dinner at the farm where we purchased our CSA share.
In late autumn of last year Bird’s Haven Farms launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com to raise money for a much-needed deer fence. The campaign was successful, and the fence was fully funded with the help of the community. As a gesture of thanks the Bird family extended an invitation to supporters to visit the farm and dine on delicious local fare. The Birds and their farm team were the most gracious of hosts. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and got a tour of where our summer vegetables are growing.
We feasted on appetizers, salad, entrée and deserts prepared with ingredients from several local farmers and bakers, and of course, Bird’s Haven Farms. I cannot possibly do justice to how tasty and beautiful it all was. Everything, down to the littlest detail, was thoughtfully prepared and presented. Our cutlery was individually bundled in its napkin with some tiny wildflowers. At the end of the evening we were all sent home with a potted starter plant. We even got to meet Chester, the farm dog. I was charmed.
My husband and I live just a short distance from the farm, and from our own gardening experiences, we know the challenges of growing things in our area. Really, the challenge is not growing so much as controlling what grows, because nearly everything thrives here in summer when summer finally arrives. That includes the desirable (veggies, berries, fruits) and the not so desirable (weeds, insects, fungi.) Fauna also abounds, and we all contend with marauding deer, raccoons, and birds. At the Bird family farm, they combat these pressures on crops, as well as the frequently fickle weather by growing in high tunnels.
The high tunnels offer a more controlled environment for vegetable crops and extend the growing season by months. Plants are protected from deer on the roam and diseases and insects borne by the air. Optimal temperatures can be maintained, and irrigation with drip tape provides consistent moisture. Because of all this, far fewer chemicals and insecticides are necessary for growing the vegetables. Our area is also subject to occasional extreme weather such as thunderstorms with high winds and hail and the tunnels give a modicum of protection from these as well. The Bird’s perfect, uniformly green tomato plants with their stout stems bear witness to the sound logic behind growing in these structures.
Bird’s Haven also has a brand-new-to-them huge greenhouse. It was purchased second hand, dismantled, hauled to its present site and reassembled by Lee Bird—certainly a Herculean task. It will serve as a baby plant nursery so crops can be seeded and propagated earlier and then moved to the field or high tunnel when it is the right time. On the evening of the dinner, one bay of the greenhouse was filled with young plants as far as the eye could see.
Tonight I will be picking up my very first CSA box for the season, and I have a greater appreciation than ever before of what goes into it, both literally and figuratively. My husband and I are grateful to have the opportunity to learn more about what we will be putting on our table this summer and to meet some very nice people.