I love living an urban life. I mean, really love having walkable streets and public transportation. But there is something so cathartic about a return to nature and open skies and the smell of freshly cut grass that will beat out the lull of the city din every time.
On Saturday I ventured out with a few blogger girlfriends on a tour of three Montgomery County farms. Thanks to a loaner car from GMC, we roared along I-270, top down, in a 2013 Chevy Camero.
We arrived first at Rock Hill Orchard, where we were met with a beautiful road-side farm overflowing with ripe blackberries, irises, basil and the most beautiful sunflowers. We picked all of these, plus strawberries, mint and thyme before heading down to meet the owners, Mary and John Fendricks, for peach ice cream and root beer floats. The items the Fendrick’s sell in their store are all local–from McCutcheon’s apple butter, to fresh baked bread and beef jerky. The Fendrick’s also raise Guernsey dairy cows–I’ll look forward to trying some cheese next time I visit.
We hopped in the Camero, blasted the A/C and headed towards Germantown to Button Farm where we would meet curator Anthony Cohen**. Button Farm was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and is currently under renovation through a Maryland curatorship. Cohen described to us how finding pieces and connections to the Underground Railroad has been difficult because “they weren’t heroes back then, they were villains.” The farm has chickens as well as a small garden, which supports both a CSA and local gleaning. Cohen and his team also plan to build a working replica of an 1850′s garden.
We were remarkably quiet as we left Button Farm–somehow greatly subdued by Cohen’s stories.
We arrived at Butler Orchard well past lunch, starving, looking longingly at the rows of gleaming heirloom tomatoes. We are met by Tyler Butler, third generation farmer of the Orchard. Tyler takes us on a tractor ride around the 300 acre farm, describing their operations and their hopes for future crops (he’s holding out for more vegetables). We stop to taste the last of the raspberries before he brings us to his potatoes, and he demonstrates how they are harvested. We head to a small grill on the farm where we meet his mother and Bill, a long-time farm hand, who introduces us to the fine art of grilled peaches.
I ask Bill about his recipe:
“You get a freestone peach–good and ready to come clean from the stone. Then you place it on the grill and let it get soft and juicy. Then you turn it over so that the inside faces up and you put raspberry jam on there. Serve it with ice cream. It gets your grill good and dirty.”
We felt so good–so grimy and sweaty from the sun–that the ride home was XM 80′s station all the way.
Thanks to Montgomery County Farms a beautiful day trip and GMC for providing our sweet ride (no, not this one…the 2013 Camero).
**Cohen is an incredible storyteller. Among his stories that day we learn about his 6-week trek along the Underground Railroad, completely dependent on the kindness of strangers for a place to stay, just like the escaped slaves of the past. He also describes the day he got a call from Oprah asking him to help her immerse in the experience of being a slave in the UR. Cohen thought, “Oh my god, I have to find a farm and I have to make Oprah a slave.” The sensory immersion, involving 200 actors, was so startling that Oprah only lasted 7 hours before asking to end the project, according to Cohen.