Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gathering Together Farm

I became enchanted with Gathering Together Farm the first time I visited it in 2008. (A few months earlier, Nash Huber of Nash's Organic Produce had written down an email contact for Gathering Together Farm when I asked him if he knew of an Oregon farmer to profile for my book--The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook.) When I drove to Corvallis, I stopped at The First Alternative Co-op, it had a profile of Gathering Together Farm in the produce department. The profile mentioned a farm store, so I headed out to the farm, just a little west of Corvallis in Philomath.

Not only is it an amazing farm store, but the farm has a restaurant with a farm chef and a pastry chef. Farm customers can dine casually for lunch or weekend brunches or make reservations to enjoy a wine dinner on Thursday and Friday evenings.
On that first visit, I talked with farmer John Eveland and walked around the farm, inhaling scents of fennel and listening to the bees humming. I knew I'd be back. When my book came out with the farm's profile, it was a perfect opportunity to revisit the farm store, and revive some delicious food memories.
You walk up the steps and through the dining area on the partially enclosed deck before going in the store. Then just check out this cold produce case. We see these cold cases so often in grocery stores it's easy to take them for granted, but this is classy stuff for a simple farm store, and this beautifully filled case practically shouts for you to take some basil or sweet onions home.

Berries, tomatoes, potatoes, candy and seeds fill a shelf on the back wall. I was delighted when I saw my book in a basket among the Gathering Together Farm T-shirts. The cookbook certainly has good company. John Eveland came through the store, stopping to help a couple of locals figure out which seeds they can still plant and greeting me cheerfully. He stayed long enough to exchange greetings and say thanks for the nice profile before saying he had to get going. He smiled and I recalled John's favorite thing about farming--"when everything runs smoothly." And the part he liked least? Keeping everything running smoothly. I imagine many farmers are like orchestra conductors where many players demand their constant attention.
On farmers' market days they're super busy and Gathering Together Farm packs everything up for the market including their famous farm-made potato doughnuts.

At the market, the pastry display caught my eye. Plain, cinnamon and chocolate covered potato doughnuts--I break down and savor one at the market. Who can resist? Come back a few hours later and these are all gone.
I walked around the market, then headed up the street to Grass Roots Bookstore where I set up a date in October to do a book promotion event. Then I walked next door to have dinner at the New Morning Bakery with my Lorraine Anderson, my editor and friend who lives in Corvallis.

We strolled back to the market where Lorraine bought transparent apples to make applesauce in her solar cooker. When we stopped at the Gathering Together Farm booth I was shocked to see most of their produce was gone--home with customers. Oh those lucky people who live in Corvallis and have access to this farm's produce throughout harvest season.

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