Partner Growers

Deep appreciation and gratitude to the Partner Growers at Foxhollow Farm

If you know about Foxhollow Farm, you probably know Pavel Ovechkin, who was our first “Partner Grower”. Pavel arrived at Foxhollow Farm in 2007 and since that time, he’s become the poster child for synergistic partnership in our biodynamic community. He would most likely hate me bragging too much about him so I will keep it brief. We all admire his determination, dedication, patience, honesty, and loyalty. He and his wife Katie taught me how to garden, and I will forever be grateful. There is much comfort when I’m in the field and know a few acres away Pavel is busy but he will step away from his task for a quick lesson or to observe a field and give me guidance and new ideas when I’m unsure. As a gardener and steward of the land, he demonstrates how tools, methods, and experimentation can expand the depth of knowledge each season brings.

So, how did Pavel end up at Foxhollow Farm? In 2006, when my mom, Janey, and I were first converting our family Farm into a Biodynamic Farm Community Janey was the champion vision holder. She took charge and gathered some farming friends to join us. In her own words, “the most important goal to me was to gather people that were very interested in taking care of this piece of land – not only interested in farming and gardening but also interested in understanding the nuances of Biodynamic agriculture which includes more than just the practical day to day labor. It needed to include some deeper understanding of nature.”  She picked up the phone and called the one person she knew in town that was “growing farmers,” Ivor Chodkoski (of Field Day Family Farm and Harvest Restaurant). Ivor made a few inquiries and by Spring of 2007, Pavel and (then partner) Valerie Magnuson were installed at Foxhollow Farm, with a few acres of land and big plans for a market garden and CSA.

At the time, Pavel had some farming background, but running his own garden was a learning curve. He had a strong will and found his way quickly through a lot of hands on learning, reading, observing, and listening to seasoned farmers. It has been inspiring and incredibly motivating to watch Pavel grow as a gardener. In eight years he has steadily built his business into a high quality operation with highly coveted CSA spots, expanded seasonal offerings and yields, and produces a beautifully bountiful market garden that often sells out early at Farmers Market.

My mom and I are blessed with this farmland so close to the city and thought – ‘why not share it with other passionate people dedicated to growing Biodynamic food for our local community?’ With the Partner Grower Program, growers have the independence and freedom of owning their own business. They are driven farmers and gardeners; individuals caring for a parcel of land here at Foxhollow Farm with respect, integrity, and gratitude. Janey inspires us and is our biggest cheerleader, and a handy helper too! She has said to me, “I think that the wave of the future is people coming together, but still having their own independence. You don’t loose your independence but you’re also a part of a united mission. I think that’s what brings happiness and freedom into community.”

It is with great pride and gratitude that we look back on the past eight years with Pavel – and look forward to the future that includes Pavel, his family, and our handful of new growers. Market gardening and farming is hard work that requires a lot of stamina. Sometimes, the 5 o’clock heatwave hits me and I want to quit. I look up and see that Pavel is still there, meticulously weeding and efficiently wheel hoeing row after row of carrots, sun up to sun down. It’s hard to do this alone – but as a community, we can support each other and encourage one another to wipe the sweat off our brow and keep hoeing.

-Maggie


Popcorn in Winter

For the past two years I have grown a popcorn patch of a variety called Robust Popcorn. In Autumn, I watched in wonder as a few kernels of popcorn I’d planted in May magically turned into a kelly green corn patch that glistened in the sunset. As the leaves turned golden brown and the ears developed violet tassels, I started to dream of snowy winter nights, comforted by a bowl of homegrown popcorn. In early October, we harvested more than 3500 ears. That’s when I figured it’s about time to come up with a blend of spices that could turn a simple bowl of fluffy popcorn into an irresistible smoky, salty, sweet sensation.

Makes 4 servings (9 cups of popped popcorn)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Organic coconut oil

1/2 c Foxhollow Farm popcorn (or 2 ears Foxhollow Farm popcorn, kernels removed)

1/4 tsp lime zest (optional)

Pinch of Foxhollow Farm cayenne (optional)

 Spice mix:

1 tsp. Bourbon Barrel Foods smoked paprika

1 tsp. fair trade cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)

2 tsp. sea salt

Directions: 

In a small bowl or Mason jar, combine spice mix and set aside.

Grab a heavy bottom pot with a lid and heat coconut oil over medium high heat.  Once hot, place 1/2 cup of corn kernels in the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and shake, shake, shake. Once the pops subside, pour the popcorn into a large bowl with room mix in the spices. While still warm, sprinkle spice mixture and gently toss to coat. To heat things up, add the optional zest of a lime and cayenne. Enjoy with friends or keep the bowl to yourself!

I’ll be at the Louisville Home, Garden and Remodeling show this Saturday, February 28th with Foodie Girl.  We’ll be at the Trend Appliance Co. Cooking stage at 11am demonstrating how to make this delicious popcorn and handing out samples.  I hope to see you there!

-Maggie

 


Announcing Jeff Poppen Workshop!

We are very excited to announce that Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer, is returning to Foxhollow for an annual workshop. The class is perfect for gardeners or farmers who’d like to deepen their understanding of soil biology, minerals and tilth.

Jeff’s enthusiasm for local food production and distribution stems from his own experience farming. For more than 30 years, he has applied biodynamic and organic principles to his 300 acre Long Hungry Creek Farm in Red Boiling Springs, TN. In addition, he is a noted speaker and author on applying these methods.

The workshop theme will be announced soon. Tickets are on sale now!

Workshop participants should expect an informative lecture, potluck lunch, and plenty of time for questions and answers. Be prepared with a notebook and questions.

Photo Credit: Tim Harris


Foxhollow Raises Money for Maryhurst Programming Through the Fall Festival

For the past six years, Foxhollow and Maryhurst have developed a partnership, the culmination of which is the annual Fall Festival, which raises funds for programming that serves the girls.  In addition to fundraising, the partnership allows Foxhollow to bring farming and food inspired hands-on experiences to young people at Maryhurst through fun learning experiences and field trips. The girls might taste edible flowers right from the garden at Foxhollow, plant fall pumpkins, take photos for art class, or just enjoy a hayride and a fresh meal.

Recently, Maggie invited a group of ten girls to visit her at Anchorage Farmers’ Market, where she’d had a booth all summer. The goal was to teach the girls a tangible life skill, and so they came to learn about how to shop at the Farmer’s Market and prepare a fresh, seasonal meal.

The class started off with a tour of the Anchorage Farmers’ Market.  Maggie and the students visited local farmers’ booths and gathered fresh ingredients. From there, they moved to Anchorage Presbyterian church, who donated their commercial kitchen as the classroom.  Maggie demonstrated how to cook up some simple, home-made dishes using seasonal ingredients raised by neighbors. The girls received recipe cards and instructions to make the dishes on their own.

The menu included watermelon gazpacho, made from tomatoes, onions, peppers and watermelon; and a simple vinaigrette to use three ways – with kale salad, sautéed squash and in warm potato salad with herbs.

Maggie had never seen them eat so many vegetables so willingly. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to a teenage girl’s appetite when she is able to tear leaves, mix ingredients and taste for seasoning herself.

It is incredibly rewarding to raise money for Maryhurst programming through our Fall Festival. But getting to teach a life skill and see the girls’ surprised faces when they actually like a salad is a reward no one can put a price on.


The First Foxhollow Farm Fall Festival…Happily Ever After

The Foxhollow Fall Festival, now in its 7th year, started out as a Cinderella story. I had a vision of people coming out and experiencing the beauty of fall at Foxhollow Farm. My image of the festival stretched beyond our borders. It happened quickly and was going to include a castle built of hay, pumpkins, and some live music. Our goal was to generate much needed exposure and funds for both Foxhollow Farm and a local non- profit. I would use the Festival’s proceeds to allow children to come out at no cost to them, and experience a working farm.

Soon after the idea was born, I remember a cool day driving down Broadway to watch the West End Boys and Girls Choir practice. I was blown away by how much patience, honor, and pride the young boys and girls had; three characteristics every farmer can relate to. They were a perfect fit for the sound of the Fall Festival. After rehearsal, I enthusiastically asked the director, McDaniel Bluitt, if they would be willing to sing at the event.

“We have never been invited to sing in a barn before” McDaniel chuckled.

I immediately started to feel a bit embarrassed. I was asking a group who had just gotten back from singing at the White House and Carnegie Hall to sing at my dinky Fall Festival, in a barn.
Just as I was doubting my decision he chirped “We are in!”

Back in Crestwood, enthusiasm over the festival spread like ants at a picnic. Like a good ole family farm, my family made this festival possible. My mom, who always had faith in me and encouraged me to shoot for the stars, was enthusiastically on board. After 2 months of dating me; my now husband, Benton Keith, dove right in and offered to provide hayrides for all our guests. Together with the farm team, we all chipped in. Over the next three weeks we constructed a beautifully lopsided Hay Castle outside. We cleaned out the barn and transformed it into our make shift musical theatre with a long wagon for a stage and hay bales for seats.

The day of the Festival, mom and I sat patiently at our welcome table: her throne; a cooler of grassfed ground beef, mine; a cooler of steaks and roasts.

As the clock struck noon, mom leaned over to whisper, “Is anyone going to come?”

I contemplated the question and then squealed back “Suuuuure. Who wouldn’t want to be out on a farm today?”

That first Fall Festival, like magic, 150 delightfully enthusiastic patrons came down the winding drive in droves, casting a cloud of $800 net profit gravel dust behind them as they left. They enjoyed grassfed beef chili, homemade corn bread, and freshly picked vegetables. After lunch, we gathered everyone, hot apple cider in hand, and walked to the barn. The West End Boys and Girls Choir sang beautifully. I remember taking a moment to look up at the crowd while a nine-year-old girl with pigtails stood up and belted out Amazing Grace. I could see the curiosity and happiness in everyone’s eyes.

By the second annual Fall Festival, everyone’s enthusiasm blossomed. I gathered a group of friends, family, and farm folk to start meeting in May in order to get the buzz going. That spring, a young woman confidently gave me a tour of Maryhurst. She lit up with pride as she showed me the raised bed garden, and I knew this was the organization I wanted to partner with that year.

The Festival became a place where everyone involved was able to use their talents. Mom introduced silk dying and face painting; we constructed a fish pond game, and the cattleman offered pony rides. The music moved outside onto a hay wagon and thanks to Joan Shelly, we added a line up of five local folk and bluegrass bands. 1500 people came that year.

Each year, the Festival grows a little more, and each Fall, we renew our wonderful partnership with Maryhurst. Last year, with more than 5,000 people in attendance, we reached our fundraising goal of $20,000.

Looking back, I remember everyone who came to that first Fall Festival, went home with full bellies, a perfectly picked pumpkin, and a music filled heart. I’m grateful for every person who was willing to sow the pumpkin seed that grew into the Fairytale of a Festival we have today!

Maggie Keith,
Co-Founder and 4th Generation Land Steward