If there’s a farm to table dinner happening in a 50-mile radius, you can bet I’ll be there. And not just because I love a good family-style meal and beautiful sunsets, but because it brings me closer to what really matters: the land, the animals, and the people working hard to harvest all of nature’s gems (despite many obstacles and extenuating circumstances).
This past weekend we took the scenic route to Plowshare Farms in Pipersville, PA, to meet and dine with Plowshare’s founders–husband-and-wife team Teddy and Faith–and a bunch of new friends. I had never been this far up in Bucks County, and as we drove further and further north up the river, I could feel society fade away. The introvert in myself wished she could sell everything and move up to a little farmhouse there!
When we arrived, it was so muddy from the rain storms we had had earlier that day (and from the several days of rain before that). Thankfully I had my trusty rain boots on, and I was prepared to get a little muddy.
The dinner was held in a small barn right in the middle of the action. I could see sheep and pigs out in the pasture, and some crops growing to the right. But before the farm tour, we imbibed on cocktails from Slow Drinks, a team of talented and innovative bartenders that use foraged ingredients in their cocktails. In fact, they had some freshly picked staghorn sumac that they incorporated into a za’atar, which I enjoyed in an electrifying concoction of Dad’s Hat White Rye and mezcal. Isn’t it amazing that these things are growing wild right here, within reach?
With drinks in hand, Teddy led us in a tour of their property, starting with the summer’s remaining squash. In the squash patch, Teddy told us about their practices to keep pests away, and how they rely on bats, swallows, and owls to protect the crops. While not certified organic, they do take a holistic approach, like composting and using cover-crops (such as buckwheat) to attract beneficial insects. Despite the beauty and deliciousness of Plowshare’s vegetables, it is inevitable that some aren’t sold. That’s where Plowshare’s animals come into the picture.
To start, there were two appetizers being passed around that were un-bahhh-lievable. My favorite was a lamb heart tartar with charred peppers over a smashed potato – which I did not know it was lamb heart until my third piece! But when you are an advocate of the snout-to-tail no waste movement, you can’t get squeamish. And everyone was a huge fan of the lamb belly with yogurt, cucumber and coriander.
Dinner brought lamb showcased in delicious and creative ways from the chefs at Suraya and Root Restaurant. It was paired with fresh, plump tomatoes, cucumbers, garden herbs, crisp green beans, and radicchio – all from Plowshare Farms. Some new friends we met at the dinner raved about Suraya, and their way of bringing the flavors of Lebanon to a dish. And Roots, their sister restaurant, has one of the best seasonal menus I’ve ever seen. Charred Asparagus & Leek Zeppole with Long Hots and Dried Lime? Are you kidding me? After our dinner, these two Fishtown spots quickly moved to the top of my ‘must visit’ list. After imbibing and dining at such a special meal, I really took a moment to reflect on how truly special this part of the country is, and how fortunate we are that Teddy & Faith opened up their farm to us for the night.
I could tell this dynamic duo was so proud of what they have created… and their passion is contagious. Not long ago, Teddy was a high school teacher, which just goes to show it’s never too late to switch course. And that it’s never too late for anyone to pursue a lifestyle more aligned with their desires! I love that. And while there will always be rain storms, and heat waves, and not-so-fun threats to our agriculture, our farmers are always at the front line, making sure we have food on our plates at the end of the day. And their reward for all this hard work? They’re the ones that get to witness Mother Nature’s magic happening daily.
Why should everyone attend a farm to table dinner this summer? To get to know your farmer, to appreciate everything that goes into one beautiful tomato, and to serve as a reminder to practice mindful, sustainable eating. If you’re in the upper Bucks region or Philadelphia, they offer shares of their produce through a weekly CSA – check it out!