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.
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.