“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” excerpt from Walden by Thoreau
This past weekend my fiance and I drove to a farm in Hustontown, PA, to visit an old friend of his from elementary school. At first I was just curious about meeting someone who was born and raised in New York City who walked away from the bright lights and fancy clothes to lead a very different life. Although I did enjoy meeting this very sweet person and discussing her views on society and life, I also ended up learning more about myself.
We caught up on life over the 2 1/2 hour drive from Washington, DC, but quickly became a little concerned after we crossed into Pennsylvania and noticed a few confederate flags (hanging from houses and printed on signs). Now, you can sell me on the historical reason for hanging the flag if I see it swinging in Alabama…but correct me if I’m wrong, the north won…right? Anyway, we kept driving with the doors locked and was sure not to blast any rap music and continued on our journey to the farm.
The drive through the farm lands was peaceful, it’s not every day that you see cows, horses and large fields of beautiful green grass. Once we arrived we stepped out of the car, took a big breath of fresh air, listened to the silence and knew we were far from the city. Instant relaxation. Vicky greeted us with fresh made tea and we talked for hours. She made us dinner that night, all fresh ingredients from the farm and her boyfriend Derek discussed the importance of eating in season and which veggies freeze well to eat over months. We played games and talked all night, no TV, no Facebook, just good old fashioned conversation. I almost forgot what it was like to talk to someone who wasn’t instantly looking down at their phone to check for a text, update their status, or to fact check a topic of discussion.
The next day I woke up thinking about that quote from Thoreau that led this blog post. Clearly my mind was already at peace. After a delicious breakfast, we took a canoe down to the main farm for a tour. We didn’t realize until that morning that this farm actually had a connection to DC. Derek works for New Morning Farm, which is the farm that helped set up the white house garden for Michelle Obama. The farmer was actually pictured in her book American Grown. Derek walked us over to the chicken coop, where we could see that even though Chickens have a door where they can walk out into the yard…they tend to just hang out together in their little house. Much like humans, they are followers and like to stick together.
Derek showed us the full life cycle of certain vegetables and it was interesting to see all the different stages of growing, the different ways of blocking out certain insects or wildlife from eating the vegetables and the way veggies taste at specific levels of growth. We tasted basil, spinach, swiss chard, and carrots (in their infancy). I never liked swiss chard when I bought it at a grocery store, but discovered that baby swiss chard tastes completely different and I could have eaten a bag full straight out of the ground at the farm. We discovered that you can cook the greens that are attached to beets and they have a sweetness to them.
We came home from the farm with beets, bibb lettuce, baby swiss chard and an invite to come back in August when all of their vegetables are at the peak of production. It’s amazing how a short trip to a simple place like a farm, can make you feel mentally like you had a week long vacation. We came back feeling healthy, in search of fresh fish to go with our fresh veggies and a desire to make a more concerted effort to shop at farmers markets. I also plan to research the food co-ops that Derek mentioned so that we can eat farm to table all summer.
I encourage everyone who lives in the city to take a weekend and get away to discover yourself and the beauty of nature. Leave the phones in the car (we still needed the GPS feature to get home..once we found a signal) and talk to each other without distraction. For those of us in the US, you are probably just a short drive away.