caryn’s words

Lat month we hosted a wonderful guest on our farm, i wrote about it here

imagine my delight when i saw the following post on caryn’s blog, just had to repost.

thanks caryn! i thought you all would appreciate someone else’s glimpse into life here!My evening drawing, of Hill & Hollow homestead.

Hill & Hollow Farm, Community Supported Agriculture in Edmonton, Kentucky

Growing food is a sacred occupation, an act of service to the land and community.

Hill and Hollow homestead, pastel painting from my horse camp.

Hill and Hollow homestead, pastel painting from my horse camp.

I’ve been traveling in the USA now for about one month. My impressions about the scarcity of whole food have not changed much. It is just darn hard to source. Even when I was driving through Ohio farmland, all I could find were those Family Dollar / Dollar General stores, or the ubiquitous pizza subs and suds shacks in every small town. People told me to go to Walmart. But the idea turns my stomach. Walmart threatens local food security. Then again, I suppose we’d have to define local. Compare the neighbourhood farm with Mexico, or the moon.

Introducing (left to right) Madeleine, Will, Robin, Paul and Sasha

Introducing (left to right) Madeleine, Will, Robin, Paul and Sasha. Hill & Hollow farmers

So you can imagine my delight when I landed at Hill and Hollow, a biodynamic CSA in Breeding, KY. The farm borders a creek banked by hardwood hills of oak, maple, hickory, sycamore, and cedar. I went as a wwoofer, primarily to be their chef for a week, and bonus, to help with the horses.

One of our family dinners.

One of our family dinners, Butcher’s Blood polenta, tat choy, chinese cabbage, chard, all from farm.

Madeleine & Georgia 'round the world'

Madeleine & Georgia ’round the world’

Hill and Hollow is a family run enterprise, with parents Paul and Robin, teenagers Sasha and Madeleine, and toddler Will. Will used words like fracking, odyssey, and bullshit. Need I say? He won my heart. The kids are all home schooled and work the farm. It’s a tightly run, loving family, wealthy in its own right. They deliver their CSA boxes to a farmer’s market in Nashville –everything is presold.

Diverse with five or six outdoor gardens, two vegetable tunnels, and greenhouse, the family also tends sheep, pigs, cows, ducks and sometimes chickens. Being late December, we ate a lot of tat choy, chard, kale, chinese cabbage, salad turnip, leeks and lemons. Potatoes, celeriac, yams, frozen beans and Robin’s great preserves were all readily available.

In one of the tunnels, preparing a bed.

Robin and buckets of soil from the compost.

Everything had a use. One day we husked Butcher’s Blood corn, for food, seed and decoration. With hand-cranked machines, the kernel came off and went into the grist mill. With the red cornmeal I made polenta for the evening’s meal. A few days later Madeleine and I made cornhusk dolls for the Christmas market.

Will with a rogue corn, for decoration.

Will with a rogue corn, for decoration.

Hand cranked corn sheller.

Hand cranked corn sheller.

Paul and the shelled cobs.

Paul and the shelled cobs.

The business went beyond raw materials, adding value, and profit. Maple syrup came from the hills. Oak logs were inoculated to produce shitake mushrooms. Meyer lemons from the greenhouse were transformed into lemon curd and canned. Raw milk turned into yogurt and cheese.

Sasha chopping wood for the maple sugar bush.

Sasha chopping wood for the maple sugar bush.

Nothing was wasted. My cheffing covered all the easy stuff like ribs, spaghetti bolognese, and beef bourguignon. But the offal was a welcome challenge. Pork liver turned into the classic smothered-in-onions dinner, and then paté (aka chopped liver) stuffed into ramekins and sealed with thick homemade blackberry jam. The lamb heart became the subject of a Valentine’s day offering, stuffed with chard and garlic. Wild trout, a product of Paul’s leisure, was pan fried whole, according to the ‘Canadian’ method of cooking fish. If there was any food waste it went to the pigs. Even fish bones.

Paul's wild trout, pan fried the 'Canadian' method.

Sow enjoying kitchen scraps.

Preparing the evening meal was supported by Madeliene and the wee Will. It was a fun time and I like to think I’ve influenced young cooks. Paul says I raised the bench on roasting vegetables. But they influenced me too, from the waffle batter always on tap, to the superb coffee with cream just drawn off the raw milk –that my friends, sweetened with molasses, was like Christmas everyday.

Growing food is a sacred occupation, an act of service to the land and community. Eating at Hill and Hollow was a remarkable celebratory experience. But it shouldn’t be. Most everything we ate was hours old. Don’t you think that’s how everyone should be eating?

P.S. As for the horseback riding, I enjoyed lots of gorgeous riding all around the hills and hollows, of Hill and Hollow CSA.

Two of my favourite activities, harvesting food (leeks) and riding.

Two of my favourite activities, harvesting food (leeks) and riding.

5 thoughts on “caryn’s words

  1. Robin, this left me teary, brimming with nostalgia, and just plain emotional!–thinking about being at hill and hollow, with you and paul, and nearly full-grown sasha and beautiful madeline and oh my oh my i have to see Will before he is any bigger!!!

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