For many, getting Corn from a local stand, Apples picked from their orchards or Lobsters from the nearby shore are everyday occurrences. Despite road trips, beach houses and daylong excursions, the fact remains; I am from Brooklyn NY and not until my trip to Italy had I spent any real amount of time in the dirt, living and breathing what I eat. The week of July 4th brought me to Mandala Farm in Gouldsboro Maine; a rustic, self sustaining, 100 acres of grass fed Animals, organic seasonal produce, Timber Frame cottages and extended families.
Kale, Peas, Basil, Dill, Turnips, Radishes, Mixed Greens, Strawberry’s (to name a few) are carefully tended and divided between local restaurants, the on site general store, for CSA members and the weekly Farmer’s market. The surplus is cooked up by the family and their interns on a rotating cooking schedule.
While the Norwegian Fjords (Horses) are put to work, the Pigs, Chickens, Cows, Sheep and Goats are raised for their fibers and meats. My city vantage gave me a childlike fascination with the animals’ individuality and grace and an important reminder of the lineage of the ingredients I lovingly cook up in my own kitchen back in Brooklyn.
Eating is not the luxury one might assume from an environment ripe with ingredients. It is part of the sustainability and a necessity. Although the Holiday week brought in Lobsters, Smores and Hot Dogs for the kids, the everyday meals were balanced, colorful and heartily prepared for large groups. Vera, the farm’s matriarch, began each day making cheese and yoghurt and prepping hearty bowls of greens, grains and granola!
As dusk descended and blue hues opaqued the landscape we would sit by the fire, gaze towards the stars and share stories, contented that another day yielded the fruits to carry on living.