Thanks to Laetitia Clayton’s writing and Rich Cooley’s photography, there is a wonderful article about our cooking classes in the Northern Virginia Daily. Laetitia and Rich came to our kitchen on a busy Tuesday. Jim Huyett from Sunnyside was delivering flat leaf parsley, and I had just brought in arugula from Leah Justice’s Vine Ripe Farm in Millwood. As Kate and Terri worked on making pesto, Jim and I talked with Laetitia about our visions as two very different people in farming.
Jim has been farming for over 35 years. He has delightful stories about farming that include driving a combine across the country twice and stopping rush hour traffic on 340 for a turtle crossing. I came to Smith Meadows in 1998. Although I was brought up in Alexandria, my two immigrant parents took me back to Italy every other summer to bask in everything rural– from taking showers under a hose with well water to picking tobacco with my Nonno Bruno. It seems unlikely that a city girl and a burly West Virginia farmer would ever cross paths, let alone be in side by side businesses.
Although Sunnyside is a vegetable farm and Smith Meadows focuses on free-range livestock, we cultivate delightful common ground to help build local, sustainable agri-CULTURE. As Laetitia writes in her article, education is the part of farming that Jim and I enjoy tremendously. Each week at farmers markets we talk to our customers on how to incorporate the food we grow and produce into their lives. We know that for our business to thrive we must build relationships with people. For some customers continuing that relationship means coming to the farm. It deepens their connection to their food and provides a context for cultivated sustenance.
With our classes on the farm, Smith Meadows is extending an invitation for experience tourism. By walking around on the farm, visiting the animals and then coming into the kitchen to learn about cooking, we are providing an experience that you cannot get anywhere else. In his presentation for a farm to table dinner featuring our meats hosted at Bastille Restaurant in Alexandria, Forrest used the term terroir when talking about the evening that Chef Christophe had prepared. Terroir “can be very loosely translated as ‘a sense of place,’ which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.” Cooking on the Farm with parsley from Sunnyside, arugula from Vine Ripe, wine from 3 Fox Vineyard and chicken from Smith Meadows is the perfect laboratory to foster our regional terroir. Sign up for a class and join us for a day on the farm where you will have a truly unique experience.