05 May 2010

American Idyll

Grow, Baby, Grow

A dinner guest might compliment a meal by saying their host should open a restaurant. The most impressed backyard visitor would never praise a gardener by telling them they need to expand their (1/4) acreage. While a good cook will hold onto the tiniest belief that someday they could open a little restaurant; you’ll almost never hear a good gardener say in the future they are going to have their own farmstead.

Which makes the jump Jennifer Callison made all the more impressive: From backyard gardener to Chief Growing Officer (CGO) of Two Forks Farm. For her first season as a farmer, Jennifer leased an acre of land from an organic farm on Sauvie’s Island with the 2-prong plan of feeding 20 families through a CSA subscription and selling at a Farmers Market.

Working on a small scale saves the need for tractors, tillers and other capital investments.  The decision to forgo synthetic pesticides and fertilizers means a lot of hand and hoe work, but these choices along with cover crops, mulches and planting soil-enriching crops like peas and fava beans, keeps the ground and plants healthy. The Sauvie’s Island location keeps the food local and the work that Jennifer and her partner Nate Hemphill keeps the future of farming alive.

For their first Market ever, Two Forks will be offering a selection of lettuces and spring greens: mizuna Dragon Tongue and mustard greens. A few months ago, when it was still greenhouse time, Two Forks made the wise decision to grow what has been the hottest veg of the season – Broccoli Raab: Raab is the new asparagus. It is good and green – when tossed with pasta it goes by its Italian name, Rapini. But you can’t pin the veg down to one cuisine or cooking style; it can be steamed, sautéed, stir-fried or rolled in rice paper as part of the greatest spring roll ever.

Jennifer and her Two Forks Farm will join the Buckman Market every Thursday for the 2010 season. Please stop by, welcome the Market’s newest growers and pick up some Raab and if you are still unsure of what to do with it, you can check out this recipe or ask your farmer for ideas. You can keep track of exploits of a new farmer or see what they will be bringing to market at the Two Forks blog.