Reflections on the Changing Seasons, Terra Madre and the Quillisascut Farm

By Amy Grondin

Walking my dog each morning through the fields near my home gives me a chance observe the changes that turning seasons bring. Today there was a definite nip in the air signaling for me that autumn was seriously taking hold and the summer that many say wasn’t had passed. If you are a farmer, you see the changes in your own fields as crops come in and out of season. For shoppers, the offerings displayed in Farmers Market stalls act as indicators of the changing seasons. Summer sweet berries give way to crisp apples, thin skinned summer squash are replaced by their hearty, thick fleshed winter cousins and delicate greens and shoots fall back for chard, kale and collards that cascade in green-purple waves on market tables, awaiting their turn in a sauté pan.

For me the coming of fall also finds me planning ahead for winter yet remembering the experiences and tastes of the past summer. One of the finest experiences, loaded with sun ripe flavor and hands on experience, was my week spent in early August at the Quillisascut Farm School for the Domestic Arts in Rice, Washington for the Second Annual Slow Food Youth Workshop.

The first Slow Food Youth Workshop was proposed in October 2008 by Quillisascut Farm owner Lora Lea Misterly while attending the third Terra Madre gathering in Torino, Italy. Terra Madre is an international celebration of sustainable small scale food producers. It is hosted biannually by Slow Food International. At Terra Madre, religion, language barriers and debates are all set aside, not because the organizers ask that these differences be checked at the door, but because what is shared in common by the multicultural participants is so very powerful. All that attend Terra Madre are striving to preserve, foster and share their own unique way of producing sustainable food that is good, clean and fair.

During Terra Madre’s proceedings a challenge was issued by Slow Food USA Leader Josh Viertel for all in the room to bring Terra Madre home. Folks were asked to bottle up the energy and inspiration that was generated by the 5,000 people who were brought together from far reaching corners of the world. Once back home, how would each attending continue their work to produce good, clean and fair food while inspiring other to become a part of the sustainable food network?

The Slow Food Youth Workshop would be Lora Lea Misterly’s way to bring Terra Madre home. People between the ages of 18 and 29 would come to Quillisascut Farm for a week of learning first hand where their food comes from and how to embrace the seasonality of local goods. How lucky were Kim Bast and I to be standing next to Lora Lea at Terra Madre when she hatched the idea to host a workshop on her farm! While our status as youth had been officially dropped a while back, our role would be to assist at Quillisascut while learning with others through shared agricultural and culinary tasks.

Back home in Washington, with two Slow Food Youth Workshops completed, I happily report that a total of 22 Slow Food Youth representatives have visited the Quillisascut Farm. They have willingly taken on the duties of caring for goats and poultry, learned about organic gardening and had first lessons in making cheese with farm fresh goat milk. They have cooked meals together using the fruit, vegetables and meat raised on the farm, and have been overheard expressing their pleasure that the sustainably grown food they had followed from the field to the plate actually tasted better! Energized and relaxed at the same time by the rhythm of life on the farm, all shared increased awareness that our differences are our strengths and that respect, sustainable, biodiversity, community and enough are more than words – they are concepts to live a life by.

Much more than sustainable food was cultivated during the time spent on the Quillisascut Farm. And we have much to share! This past August four of the people attending the second annual Slow Food Youth Workshop were from Seattle. Two attending the workshop were sponsored by Slow Food Seattle – Andrew Heimburger from Seattle Culinary Academy and Erica Carre from FareStart – and two were sponsored by their workplaces – Ryan Stoy from Rainier Club and Anna Bazzi from TASTE at SAM.

 

These four exceptional individuals have agreed to work together with me to plan an event that will allow Slow Food Seattle members to meet them, hear their stories from the Quillisascut Farm and raise funds to send others from the Seattle area out to the Quillisascut Farm School for Domestic Arts in Rice, WA for the third annual Slow Food Youth Workshop in 2011! Stand by for updates and event details in November…But until then, please enjoy this recipe created by Chef Karen Jurgensen while teaching at the Quillisascut Farm School for Domestic Arts:

Jacob’s Cattle Bean, Kale and Chèvre Soup
The goat cheese adds a delicious tang to this comforting soup. The heavy cream binds the beans together and makes the soup thicker, so resist the urge to substitute whole milk or half-and-half. Because of the high fat content, this soup freezes well. Note: Canned beans are not a suitable substitute as the beans make their own stock and sauce.

Makes 8 servings

  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) Jacob’s Cattle beans or other white beans, rinse and soak overnight (3 parts water to 1 part beans, soaking water reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1½ cup tomato purée
  • 1 cup chopped preserved roasted red peppers (store-bought is fine)
  • 1 bunch black kale (or other kale), about 8 to 10 leaves, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1½ cups (about three-quarter pound) soft goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt

Put the beans and soaking water in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and skim foam from the beans. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add the salt (the water should taste lightly of salt). Cook about 1 hour, until the beans are soft in texture and creamy in flavor.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the carrot, celery, yellow onion and garlic, until the mixture is soft but not brown. Stir in the tomato purée, red peppers and black kale. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes and add salt to taste.

When the beans have finished cooking, stir in the vegetable mixture, bay leaves, thyme and chili flakes. Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the heavy cream, goat cheese and black pepper. Cook for 15 minutes more, then season to taste with salt.

Variations: In summertime use fresh tomatoes, peppers, and thyme. For a lighter minestrone-style soup, leave out the heavy cream and goat cheese.

— Recipe excerpted from Chefs on the Farm: Recipes and Inspiration from the Quillisascut Farm School for the Domestic Arts by Shannon Borg and Lora Lea Misterly with recipes from Karen Jurgensen and photography by Harley Soltes (Skipstone).



Bringing Terra Madre Home, Part II- Event tickets on sale now!

On Thursday, November 5th, Slow Food Seattle and FareStart will be hosting a special dinner to raise scholarship funds for the 2010 Slow Food Youth Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm School for the Domestic Art in Rice, Washington.

Guest Chef Karen Jurgensen of the Quillisascut Farm will prepare a three course meal of seasonally available ingredients with wine pairings to bring the taste of the Farm to the dinner guests in Seattle at FareStart. Featured will be the traditional farmstead goat cheeses from the Quillisascut Farm.

A slide show and presentation on the 2009 Slow Food Youth Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm will be presented by Danny Barksdale, Adriana Rose Taylor-Stanley and Amy Grondin.

What: The Slow Food Seattle Quillisascut Farm Student Scholarship Fundraiser

Where: FareStart, 7th & Virginia (downtown Seattle)

When: Thursday, November 5th, 6pm

Cost: $50 per member (plus tax and gratuity) $60 non-members

Purchase tickets today!

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/86237

Slow Food Youth Workshop at Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts, August 6-12, 2009

By Amy Grondin

Nina in the garden

Nina in the garden

I was fortunate to have been invited by Lora Lea Misterly to assist her in leading the first Slow Food Youth Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm in the second week of August. Lora Lea and I met each other for the first time in October of 2008 at Terra Madre. Terra Madre is Slow Food International’s biennial meeting that brings together international food communities, cooks, academics and youth delegates for four days to work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production. In Turino, Italy during the fourth week of October, the third edition of Terra Madre hosted representatives from over 150 countries. The guests together were human links in the food chain, supporting sustainable agriculture, fishing, and breeding with the goal of preserving taste and biodiversity. Once back home in Washington, Lora Lea’s idea to host the week long Slow Food Youth Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm was her way of sharing our experience at Terra Madre with young people who are interested in small scale and sustainable food systems. On the farm 13 youth had a chance to experience life on a working farm. While those attending were all considered youth, between the ages of 18 and 29, they were from varied backgrounds, communities and levels of education. The commonality that brought them all together was a passion for food, a desire to learn about how we produce what we eat and a willingness to open themselves to a completely new vision of what it meant to be part of a food community.

Group photo

Group photo


For most people, food is what they purchase mindlessly from the counters of a grocery store, neatly wrapped, packaged and portioned. Little or no thought goes into where the food is from and how it came to be available to go home in the trunks of cars and find its way to dinner tables. The week on the Quillisascut Farm gave each student a chance to experience milking goats and then creating cheese from the milk in the buckets that were carried from the barn. Vegetables tended in garden were harvested in the morning, washed and chopped in the afternoon to be cooked lovingly for dinner that evening. On goes the list of food that was produced on the farm and prepared with all our hands to nourish us that week – eggs, chickens, apricots, honey, goat – all products of earth and hard work that rewarded each of us with full stomachs and the knowledge of how our meal made its way to the table.

This knowledge also reminded us of our role as members of a food community. We were reminded that as consumers we are not removed from but active participants in our food community. The more educated we are on where and how our food is produced, the more we can support all in our food community – the farmers, harvester, distributors, grocers and other consumers. By making informed purchases we can help to keep the greater communities we live in economically strong and environmentally healthy.

Learning on the farm

Learning on the farm

Each day on the farm offered not only education from working with our hands but also from daily discussions based on powerful words: sustainability, respect, biodiversity, community, grateful and enough. The hour long talks around the 15′ long common table in the Quillisascut Farm’s kitchen invited all to reflect and share how these words are used in our culture and how the meanings of these words could guide us as we develop our own value systems that will lead us through our lives. Each day brought the students greater trust in each other through the shared tasks of farm work. That trust was revealed daily as the students shared more freely of their thoughts during the morning meetings. By the end of the week the 13 strangers who had arrived on the farm had become a community of diverse individuals bound together through shared experiences. They understood that while community is often a place based thing, a community could also be formed by individuals who share common goals, work or ideals.

In an effort to continue to share the lessons learned on the Quillisascut Farm, plans are in the works for the students to make presentations for their local Slow Food chapters based on their experiences from the week. Local Slow Food chapters sponsored half of the tuitions for the students to attend. Reporting back to the local chapters will encourage more sponsorship for future Slow Food youth groups to travel to the Quillisascut Farm.

One such presentation will be led by Danny Barksdsale, a Seattle based chef/instructor at FareStart, and Adriana Rose Taylor-Stanley, a University of Washington student and member of the UW Farms Program. Both individuals were sponsored by Slow Food Seattle to attend the Slow Food Youth Workshop on the Quillisascut Farm. Their presentation will be part of the November dinner prepared by Chef Karen Jurgensen at the FareStart facility in Seattle. The dinner will be held to raise scholarship funds for the 2010 Slow Food Youth workshop. With slide show to offer images of farm life, Danny and Ariana will tell of their shared week on the farm and do their part to add two more youth’s names to the growing community of attendees to the Quillisascut Farm School for Domestic Arts. Additionally, Danny has proposed that he and I work on planning day trips to farms in the Seattle area for the students he teaches at FareStart. FareStart is a nonprofit that helps homeless and disadvantaged individuals achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training and employment in the food service industry. Danny wants to somehow share his Quillisascut experience with his Seattle students who most likely have never seen a farm.

Danny surrounded by abundance

Danny surrounded by abundance


I could go on for many more pages about the powerful time that was shared with the students who formed the first group attending the Slow Food Youth Workshop this past August at the Quillisascut Farm. Much more could be said about the beauty of the land and generosity of

Lora Lea and Rick Misterly in opening their home to strangers and for giving us a glance at what they have learned from 30 years of farming. But the best thing would be for Slow Food members to join Danny, Ariana and me at FareStart on November 5th for dinner and conversation about our week on the Quillisascut Farm in Rice, Washington. We invite you to have dinner with us and learn more about the lessons learned on the farm that will help us support and form our own communities, from place based to food based and all in between.

Here are some links for Happy studentsfurther reading:

Terra Madre: http://www.terramadre.info

Quillisascut Farm: http://quillisascut.com

FareStart: http://farestart.org

UW Urban Farm: http://students.washington.edu/uwfarm