From Broods to Brunch
I got the inspiration for this post after receiving a message for Roux on Park Ave in Rochester, NY. They had recently partnered with a new purveyor after expanding the menu to include Weekday Breakfast on top of their Weekend Brunch menu.
The message read..."Hey Roux, this is Robert from Workin in the Dirt, your egg guy. I love that you guys are using my eggs, but I had no idea you were going to be ordering so many. You actually bought ALL of my eggs this week, leaving me with only a few for market. I have an opportunity to go get some more layers this weekend in order to meet your needs." This got me thinking...this little French Kitchen was pumping out a lot of eggs!
I wanted to find out more and after contacting Roux they approved my pitch for a "meet our purveyor" series in their newsletter. I've known the owners at Roux for many years...They're love for quality, fresh ingredients had a large influence on my views on food as well as providing a strong foundation in cooking, and what hard work and passion can produce. So I contacted Workiń`in the Dirt in Scottsville, NY to interview Robert about how he got started and why. Having grown up on a small community farm myself, it brought back memories of my childhood and what it takes to farm and raise healthy animals who'll produce quality eggs and meat for the restaurants and public markets they serve in their communities.
I arrived at the modest 5.5 acre farm which includes over 1.5 acres of cultivated field crops. It has 3 greenhouses, multiple pasture paddocks for poultry (egg production and turkey meat), and a large pasture for meat chickens and ducks as well as horses. It was clear to see that this farm and the animals are well cared for. Robert is a first generation farmer who's passionate about natural, chemical free living!
"None of my family has any farming in their blood. While my apple didn't fall far from the tree, someone did pick it up and throw it. This will be my 4th full season running my own farm."
After spending a year in the Caribbean, Robert moved back to New York. He wanted to start a business, and organic farming was as close as he could get to running a business and living naturally at the same time.
One of the newest to the flock...Baby Guinea Fowl, called keets, pictured below, are easy to tend and about as adorable as it gets. Once grown, they are worthy watchdogs, fighting off trespassers both human and animal alike. Although they can be a bit noisy when fully grown, but I guess you have to be when your job is to warn of predatory approach, right?
The farm began with a variety of organically produced veggies. Every year they've been running adding new projects. Now along with the veggies, they're producing mushrooms, pasture raised organically fed chicken, turkey, and duck meat, chicken and duck eggs and a number of wild edibles. They also partnered with Swiftwater Brewing, who was looking for an eco friendly way to offload their spent grain, and after talking to Robert, they started to deliver it to Workin` in the Dirt as feed for the animals. The Farm has plans for future projects will include quail, pheasant, goats, and locally grown, wild rice.
I got to taste the Pea Shoots...They were delicate, sweet and I imagined pairing it with lightly grilled fish and a glass of unoaked White Bordeaux!
Q. How do you feel about the local/organic food movement?
A. "The Organic movement is one of the most important movements of our time. It has it's fingers in things like crony capitalism while fighting the GMO giants, to the future of our environment and climate, to the mere sustainability of our society.
I think that recently, the trend of new farms in NYS are that they are on the smaller side. Although this creates a lot of competition, it also allows for niche items to be produced based on the individual talents, interests, and micro-climate."
Q. How do you see your roll in the community?
A. "I'm not sure how to answer that, although I'm just as happy walking into the back door of the restaurant with muddy boots and healthy food for everyone to eat...as I am walking in the front waiting to be served. Farmers are the basis of any organized society. Teachers do not have time to lesson plan or teach without someone else producing their food for them. Doctors have little time to practice medicine if they they must take the time to produce their own food. Photographers cannot take pictures, construction workers cannot build...Farming allows for the rest of society to run. I am happy to be able to feed people and their families."
* This made me think of Paul Harvey's 1978 "So God made a Farmer" speech, click hear! It's a timeless testament to the core of farming.
Q. What advice could you give to any young greenhorns interested in getting into farming?
A. "A shortcut is rarely a shortcut. If a shortcut was really a shortcut, it wouldn't be a shortcut, it would just be the way."
You can find Workin` in the Dirt for yourself on...
- Thrusday's 4pm-7pm @ South Wedge Farmers Market
- Saturdays's 6am-3pm @ Rochester Public Market
You can also find their meat and eggs at Small World Food in Rochester, NY
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