For many people, they will never have the chance to go to a farm, let alone learn, and see its inner workings, and harvest food. With Farm Field Sea’s Summer Culinary Adventure Series, you can have that opportunity.
Each weekly event has a limited number of spaces, and is great not only for individuals who want to learn and experience the land or sea in a whole new way, but also for groups too. For this culinary adventure, there was a couple celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary, and a hip, young team from Boston on a work retreat.
Farm Field Sea founder, Nevette Previd, has found a number of ways to bring you, carefully curated, bespoke events that offer a truly unique Island experience throughout the Summer. The series kicked off with Farmer and Chef for a Day at North Tabor Farm in Chilmark.
This culinary adventure delivers an intimate, hands-on experience with farmers and a chef. The farmers, Matthew Dix and Rebecca Miller of North Tabor Farm, and Gavin Smith, private chef, Food Minded Fellow.
The first part of the event is an immersion into farm life, and the harvesting of food to use for the lunch that Gavin would prepare for us. A whole new meaning of “farm-to-table.”
There are 42 farms on the small Island of Martha’s Vineyard, and Rebecca and Matthew have been part of this growing community since 1994, long before it was trendy or the buzz was farm-to-table. This dynamic husband and wife team know well, the importance of farming in our community.
In addition to their farm, they lease additional farm land for veggies from the Cagney estate (yes the James Cagney was a Martha’s Vineyard Summer resident), and additional land down the road from the farm for their chickens.
We began by gathering together, sampling coffee from Chilmark Coffee Company, introducing ourselves, and soaking in the beauty of the farm on what was a truly gorgeous Summer day.
Nevette spoke for a bit about the event and Farm Field Sea, Gavin introduced himself and talked about the menu a bit, and then Rebecca and Matthew spoke about the farm.
It’s amazing that after 23 years, these two farmers still have so much passion for their work. Known best for their amazing salad greens, a staple on a number of Island restaurants and the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market, they have a really diverse selection of crops.
Each one is a labor of love in its own way, and requires an incredible amount of time and care. Matthew’s first stop with our group was the Shittake Mushrooms. There we learned about how to grow and care for them.
Did you know that you can even get a mushroom kit for an apartment? Many of our Boston friends were quite excited about this prospect. We then harvested several for our lunch that would be prepared later.
We then went on to learn about tomatoes, and Matthew was able to offer us gentlemen farmers some great advice on how to grow better tomatoes. I now know next year to graft my heirloom tomatoes, which are low producing and subject to disease, with a stronger tomato variety, which would yield tomatoes with the flavor of an heirloom but with the higher production of a traditional tomato. So useful!
Then it was on to squash where we learned another fact. Squash have male and female blossoms. It’s the males that are used to create delicious squash blossom dishes, and the females remain on the plant to bear fruit.
We were then on to wild radishes, cauliflower and broccoli, and then meandered through the wooded path that brought you to North Tabor’s extensive mixed greens beds. Here, greens are harvested constantly for the growing need from chefs especially.
The current trend that Matthew is working with is micro veggies. Micro greens, micro squash, chefs want veggies that are young and packed with flavor, and North Tabor is providing just that.
Across from the greens, you’ll find blueberry bushes. These are the blueberries used for the highly popular Chilmark Chocolates chocolate covered blueberries in the summer. I will be on the lookout for their availability at this iconic chocolate maker.
There were a number of chickens on the farm, though most are at their poultry farm down the street. However, we did get to learn about a chicken that one of the farm employees is breeding that will bear eggs, and is then able to be used for meat. It’s not the prettiest of birds, but defiantly an interesting thing to learn about.
After our farm tour and food harvest, we gave Gavin the fruits of our labor for him to work with to create our farm fed lunch.
Gavin Smith may be young but he has incredible pedigree in the food world. After creating Foodminded Fellowship Supper Club in Atlanta, he realized that being both a chef and a manager was not his thing.
His thing was cooking. That is was he shined and his passion came through. So he decided to become a private chef, Food Minded Fellow, creating meals catered to each individual person, place or event. He’s quickly become a Martha’s Vineyard favorite!
Lunch began with Cottage City Oysters. We learned a bit about how they are farmed here on the Vineyard (and also part of the Farm Field Sea Culinary Adventures), and then Gavin gave us a shucking demonstration.
A number of people joined in the shucking fun, taking the chance to experience it for the first time. Speaking of first times, for some, it was their first oyster, and lucky for them, they don’t get much better than those from the island farms.
I loved seeing the Bostonians be hands on, laughing and having fun with the experience. The whole group really got to be as immersed and involved as they wanted to be. Some wanted to shuck or pick veggies, some chose to watch. The experience is as hands-on as you want — different for every person.
With the oysters, we enjoyed some wine, and of course, local beer. There were a number of beer “crawlers” from Bad Martha, including the 508 IPA, Summer Ale and the Maibock. Curious about the “crawler?” Read More Here.
How perfect! Oysters from Oak Bluffs, beer from Edgartown, surrounded by the beauty and bounty of a Chilmark farm!
As we were eating oysters, Gavin’s main dish, roasted chicken, was in the farm’s brick oven. The chicken, just slaughter from North Tabor’s flock, had been brined over night, and was topped with fresh herbs from the farm. The chicken looks so yummy.
But before that, it was time to make flatbread pizzas with Gavin’s homemade dough. Here too, people got into the experience. Kneading the dough, making the pizzas themselves, and for most, the first time ever. Matthew then put the carefully crafted pizzas in the farm’s brick oven (which makes all the difference).
Finally, it was time for lunch, which smelled heavenly. Nevette and her team had set up a dreamy table in one of the farm’s field, complete with flowers from the farm, which is a big crop for them as well.
Together, we sat, drank, talked and enjoyed the food we helped harvest. All of our experiences together led to wonderful conversation, lively and inspiring.
The food was so good. Gavin’s chicken was scrumptious. I had two helpings. If I could have that daily, I would be so happy. Between the fresh chicken, the brining, the brick oven, and seasoning — wow! The salad was packed full of goodness that we harvested which made it event tastier, with radishes, shittakes, greens, even squash blossoms.
We all felt really close and appreciative with the food we were eating, and there was a new admiration for farmers. The work, the dedication, it takes a special kind of person to be able to do what Matthew and Rebecca do. How remarkable it was for all of us to share in this for a period of time.
If you too would like to experience Farmer and Chef for a Day, there are a number of opportunities throughout the summer, for these unique Island events, click here for more info and tickets.
Farm Field Sea offers you a 360 degree experience, whether a farm on land or a farm in the ocean, these events are unforgettable. We recently shot a video tour of the Oyster Farming experience, you can took a look by clicking here.
A special thanks to Island photographer Alison L. Mead for some of the photographs used for this story.
Point B Realty is proud to be a sponsor of the Farm Field Sea Culinary Adventure Summer Series 2017.