Some people say that farm time moves more slowly, and after two weeks of living on one, I know for sure that it is true. The days are peaceful yet full of hard work under the sunshine. Even in the quaint kitchen of the inn where the other externs and I cook every day, the natural light pours in from the windows to illuminate the vegetables we’re chopping that the farmer brings us each morning. This location is a special choice for culinary students because not only do we get to cook with beautiful ingredients, but we get to spend at least one day a week working out on the field tending to them. This connection allows us to fully understand the scope of our jobs as food stewards and appreciate the delicacies that we have in front of us. Today was one of those farm days, and we spent the first half of it transferring all the starter tomato plants to their hoop houses where they’ll live all summer climbing up the string trellises that we installed for them. We laid down the irrigation drips underneath them to hydrate the soil, and pruned back the “sucker” leaves on the bottom of the stems to encourage the energy to go towards the fruit. We have about four different tomato varieties, all chosen by the executive chef who begins curating the menu many months in advance. As more produce becomes available to us, we’ll have the chance to work with the head chef in designing the menu to fit the season, which, in Vermont, seems to be just about a few weeks behind all of you in Maryland.
Another highlight from this week was an in-depth orientation to all that the farm offers. We got the chance to observe the cheddar cheese-making processes that Shelburne Farms is renowned for, which utilizes milk that comes only from the Swiss cows that graze our farm. We met these beauties and their calves, including a newborn that was born just hours before our visit. While living in Vermont and surrounded by farmlands, there is no reason to eat anything that isn’t local, and the quality speaks for itself more than I could even describe. Experiences like this remind me exactly why I decided to pursue food as a career in the first place, as the gifts we get from the land combined with outstanding skill from talented workers creates a sensational bond between us all and the planet. We have a deep responsibility to uphold and nurture the sustainability of this bond, and I hope this enthusiasm spreads to more people around the country and the world.