“Farming is a strange combination of forced patience and instant gratification,” is how local farmer Tara Rockacy explained her endeavor, and she would know! The lady has been moving and hustling, expanding, growing and evolving with each season, from CSAs to goats emerging from new barns to mingle with the city’s top chefs. The “forced patience” aspect reminded me how a farm must work in tune with the season and the elements. Unlike a business startup, there can’t be a complete change of direction mid-season. There can’t be a last-minute decision to focus on flowers because that’s what the market wants. That decision has to be planned and put in motion long before the competitive scrambling to catch a bridal bouquet. That’s why a bloom, at long last, is so instantly gratifying.
Nonetheless, my dreamer, imaginative, event designer, stylist side gets swept away with the farm’s full potential, until a brief reality check finds me ensnared in visions of long tables, farm-fresh bouquets, wedding vows amidst the basil, banjo nights, yoga by the hoop house, drawing classes with edible still lifes, herbalism workshops, etc, etc, etc. The “forced patience” is remembering the main goal for this season: to repair the soil, grow food and feed people. Everything else will come in its due time. Due time means starting small: one picnic table, four friends, and one enjoyable evening of just being on the farm.
“This is the first time I’ve had people on the farm and haven’t put them to work,” the Urban Farmer joked, and though the work is rewarding, just sitting, laughing and eating sausages was a welcomed change of pace.
Starting small, or simply starting, can be such a hurdle, so this cookout was a much needed reminder for me to slow down, enjoy this season, and take advantage of the here and now. I should probably plaster that reminder all over my apartment: Start small, start small, start small!
Bricks that once clad homes on these vacant lots, were born again as a our fire pit, where we grilled sausage and smoky potato wedges with herbs. The Urban Farmer picked the salad straight from the ground- a flavorful mix with bitter, citrusy notes and crunch- a far cry from the plastic container of greens in the produce aisle. The watermelon was juicy, the cocktail was refreshing, the view of the city was stunning, and dessert was just the right mix of sweet and tart.
While my head will probably always spin with ideas and grand dreams, I’ll take plenty more of these small, first steps and remember to appreciate patience, albeit forced, and cherish the ensuing moments of instant gratification!
Whole Wheat Lemon Mint Olive Oil Cake & Sage Lemonade Cocktails
About These Recipes: Olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest make this a moist, spongey cake fit for vegans and dairy-loving fools alike! Serve with homemade whipped cream, organic vanilla bean ice cream, or vegan whipped coconut cream. The cocktail is a loose recipe for a fruit-infused punch. Free of precise ratios, it’s an effective way to serve cocktails to multiple people. You’ll need a gallon jug or pitcher.
Whole Wheat Lemon Mint Olive Oil Cake (Vegan)
2 cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup fresh organic lemon juice
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons organic lemon zest
2 Tablespoons organic lemon extract
Raspberry or Strawberry Jam
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, chopped mint, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup,lemon juice, water, lemon zest, and lemon extract.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.
Transfer to a rack to cool. Remove from pan.
Spread a layer of jam on the cake surface, leaving about a 1-inch border on the edge. Top with strawberries, blueberries and fresh mint.
Sage Lemonade Cocktail
64 oz (half a gallon) Trader Joe’s Organic Mango Lemonade
60-64 oz (half a gallon) Ginger Peach Black Tea, brewed extra strong (such as this)
Fresh Lemons, sliced
Fresh Strawberries, sliced
Art in the Age Sage Liquor
Pour the mango lemonade into a gallon, glass jug or pitcher. Add fresh fruit and mint, to your taste preferences. Top off with the Ginger Peach tea. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
To serve, add 1-2 ounces of Art in the Age Sage Liquor to a glass with ice. Top with tea-lemonade combination. Garnish with fresh mint and fruit.
Hazelwood Urban Farms is the labor of love of my love, the Urban Farmer. His goal is to bring fresh food to vacant lots in a food desert. My goal is to share his story and find the perfect recipes for his crops. You can follow the farm on Facebook and Instagram.