As a city girl born and raised in Baltimore, I rarely have the opportunity to be on a farm or see the plants or animals responsible for producing the food I eat.
This weekend, Bill and I were invited to join a fellow local food blogger, (a)Musing Foodie, for a farm tour and authentic farm to table meal. Our hosts were Tony and Abby Brusco, who are the founders and managers of Hometown Harvest, the home delivery service Bill and I use. I’m also a contributing writer to their blog.
I’ve written about Hometown Harvest before and know that many of you use their services for yourself or your family to deliver fresh, locally sourced produce and other fresh foods to your home. We love the convenience, cost, and quality.
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect as we arrived at the Bruscos’ idyllic farmhouse in Frederick, Maryland on Saturday morning to learn more about the farmers behind our food.
To start our day, we were introduced to the dozens of healthy, happy chickens, who were freely roaming on the grass. Abby picked up a chicken named Rosie and introduced her to us, as the kids who were on the tour with us rushed over to pet her.
This practice isn’t as common as it should be. Most of the meat and eggs that we buy from the grocery store today and eat at restaurants are from factory-farmed chickens. These animals have been stuffed into tight cages, where they have no room to move, sit in their own filth, and are injected with antibiotics and hormones to help them fight illness that runs rampant in their less than sanitary living conditions and grow to unnaturally large sizes.
80% of the antibiotics that are used each year are used in animals, and they end up in our food supply (which also means they end up in our bodies). This is one of the many reasons why Bill and I prioritize eating organic, grass-fed animals and animal products. Check out Food, Inc. to learn more.
Tony shared with us that chickens lay eggs every 26 hours (I had no idea!) and that the color of their eggs – blue, white or brown – is dependent on their breed.
Before we left the coop, Tony and Abby’s daughter, Sophia, introduced us to two of the other chickens that have been given names – Optimus Prime and Road Runner. Optimus Prime was quite a sight with his big hairy feet!
We continued our tour and met the tiny baby chicks in the barn, who were only about a week old and would be moved out into a coop after about 12 weeks. The little boys with us were eager to pick up all of the chicks, so Tony lifted one of out of the pen, so we could all pet it. I can’t remember the last time I did that, but I’ve always loved baby animals, so it was a treat!
As we meandered back toward the house, we came across 5 ducks that had just been brought to the farm before taking a look at the apple, plum, and peach tree orchard behind the Brusco home. Wouldn’t it be so cool to walk into your backyard and pick a peach or an apple off of a tree? I would love it!
While we stood by the orchard, Tony shared with us his plans for the future – to move the full Hometown Harvest operation to a neighboring parcel of land, alongside a market that would be open to customers. Tony’s goal is to make the facility a zero waste operation, complete with composting and rooted in sustainability.
Frederick County and the State and County farm bureaus have been very supportive of the plans, so your votes in the upcoming elections to favor pro-agriculture legislators can help to keep this process (and others like it) moving.
Before breaking for lunch, we wandered over to the garden enclosed by a white picket fence and lined with raspberry bushes (my favorite!).
Tomatoes, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, dill, basil, chives, and lavender were just a few of the fruit, veggies and herbs growing in the garden. Yum!
Despite the fact that my gardening skills are a bit nonexistent at the moment, seeing all of the fresh produce made me want to start growing some of my own!
All of this talk about food made us hungry, so we sat down to enjoy a true “farm to table” lunch – couscous, cranberry and almond salad (similar to this one!), creamy deviled eggs, crisp black bean and avocado salad, lasagna two ways topped with freshly picked basil, and a sweet and refreshing fruit salad.
There is something special about enjoying a meal in community with the people who not only thoughtfully prepared it but also watched its ingredients grow.
During lunch, Tony shared with us his passion for partnering with local farmers who align philosophically with him. They value and practice sustainable farming, produce and prepare the highest quality food and drinks, and are locally based (most within 50-60 miles of Frederick). To learn more about the farmers Hometown Harvest partners with, click here.
As we were finishing up our meal, Tony was sharing more of his story with us, including all that he and Abby have done to make their home what it is today. He said, “You kind of create your own kind of Eden.”
Those words really struck a cord with me. As he said it, he meant it mostly as it relates to his property, the farm, the house, the garden, but I know it had a deeper meaning.
We have the opportunity to make our space what we want, a space that nourishes our soul and our spirit, a space where we can find rest, peace, and happiness.
This is true not only of the physical space where we live, but also of our bodies, our workplaces, and the greater community of which each of us is a part.
I may not live on a quiet, rustic farm where I’m surrounded every day by the beauty and solitude of nature, but I can take what I have where I am and commit to creating my own kind of Eden, becoming aware of and appreciating beauty no matter where I am, nourishing my space, my community, and myself.
To learn more about Hometown Harvest and whether they deliver to your area, check out their website!