My search for locally produced food took me to the Farm Institute last Saturday morning. The Institute sponsors a farm chore morning first Saturdays of the month in the off season, and I had been intending to lend a hand several other first Saturdays, but sleep had won out.
The vegetable garden is under renovation and it is a delightful new design. Beds are mounded, pathways are lowered and filled with wood chips, and there are two “meeting circles” within the garden where the children in the summer program will gather right in the heart of the garden. There is a welcoming, enveloping circular design to the entire garden. I did my part by weeding an overgrown spinach bed.
Later in the morning the volunteers went off to feed the animals and gather eggs. It was here that I met the critters that would help to fill my freezer this May. There are two sheep breeds, Icelandic and Navajo-Churro. The Icelandic flock had just finished its lambing season with the exception of “Izzy” who seemed to be waiting for the full moon or some other natural force to help her out. The chickens being raised for market are a cross between Barred Plymouth Rock hens and Cornish hens. They are pasture raised and move about the field “Salatin style” in portable poultry structures that allow them to forage on fresh grass and bugs.
There was no question in my mind that this was a place to buy local. The farm director, Matt Goldfarb, took me down to the freezer, and I went home with several pounds of last year’s lamb. He informed me that later in the week the staff would be slaughtering its first group of chickens. So day before yesterday I drove back to the farm and pulled two fresh chickens out of the fridge and left my check in the jar.
I have eaten pasture raised chicken from Polyface Farm, so I knew what to expect in terms of flavor. But I must say this chicken that I cooked last night … maybe because it was fresh not frozen, maybe because of the breed … was THE most delicious chicken I have ever tasted.