Hoeing Down in Rhode Island

posted in: Ruminations | 7

Ah, the smell of musty haystacks and wood smoke. The crisp bite of tree-ripened apples. The taste of sweet corn slicked with pure butter. There’s nothing like celebrating the end of a fruitful harvest like an all-evening barbecue at a sustainable farm with your local farmers. Oh wait, I’ve never been to one before. It’s funny how comforting pasttimes can forge their way into one’s memory.

But now that I’ve experienced the real thing at the 4th Annual Hoe Down at the Urban Edge Farm in Cranston, RI, I can safely say it’s no longer a mere hallucination induced by media trends. Er — completely. This weekend I traveled to Providence once again to visit my brother and, of course, get my hoe down. Oh, there was some barefoot dancin’, compostin’, chasin’ chickens around in a pen and lots of eatin’ to be had. With the help of student chefs from Johnson & Wales University, the farm served a healthy, regional menu of of basic barbecue staples like burgers and veggie burgers, a tangy gazpacho and sides like summer rolls and sauteed leeks. But the best dishes, in my opinion, were those that were the least manipulated, like freshly sliced ripe tomatoes and buttery whole ears of corn.

a shoes-optional event

musical guest The What Cheer? Brigade gets the crowd stompin’

a sampling of Rhode Island wines

With a kid-to-adult ratio of 4-6, and many of the adults of the younger, freer-looking set, the hoe-down was the perfect way to rejuvenate my smog-clogged soul for a weekend. There’s something restorative about seeing brightly painted signs for many different types of compost bins. Watching kids pick at worms and chickens. Filling up on apples as dessert. I felt liberated — and unshowered.

kids getting closer to the earth(worm)

… and their feathered friends

But that’s not going to happen again for quite some time. A year, in fact. So unless someone else wants to host a barnyard barbecue and listen to me wax poetic about peach fuzz, I’m happy to pick up the axe once again and get down to the dirty work of urban recipe-testing. Because, as they say in the country, it’s good to be home.

7 Responses

  1. ohiomom

    I really enjoy your blog. A city girl myself, I love going to the country but miss the sounds of the city after awhile. I am fortunate that we have several farm markets close by and some that are year round.

  2. Stephany

    Oh my gosh, I LIVE In RI and never knew about this event until I read your blog this morning. I’ll have to check this out next year.

  3. a.b.b

    Let’s plug those local apples, NEOINY. Dozens of varieties, for eating, baking, saucing, throwing at Republicans. Not organic, alas, but the northeast is too damp for that. Look for IPM apples instead. Organic apples from Washington State are Big Ag monocultural petroleum-gobbling beasties, so don’t be suckered by the label. And shit from Chile? Please. How unsustainable can you get. BTW, most of the junk supermarket apple juice comes from those fine purveyors of lead and other toxins in China.

    Let me praise the Newton Pippin, a colonial American era variety from Queens you have to hunt for now, but unbelievably good eating out of hand. B. Franklin took a barrel of ’em to France to win the Frenchies over to the cause.

  4. Sue

    Wow, do I miss Fall 🙁

    Pity us west coasters who can’t get any damn (real)apple cider out here. They apparently don’t have the technology – they think wussy apple juice is cider in LA! The horror. I can’t even smuggle it back in my luggage anymore because of the TSA.

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