Lovingly crafted memoir about the author’s days producing organic veggies on his small farm in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Stark’s Eckerton Hill Farm provides fruits and vegetables for a discerning retail clientele at New York’s Union Square Greenmarket. The author also delights the palates of sophisticated foodies via the kitchens of the great chefs at Gotham’s priciest eateries. Once just another management consultant, Stark became a truck farmer more than a decade ago. Recounting his evolution as a grower of culinary goodness, he salutes the cadre of volunteers, draftees, relatives, neighbors and migrant Mexicans who plowed, picked and helped. He acknowledges the hornworms, quack grass, Canadian thistle, mice and a groundhog that hindered his efforts; the woodchuck he murdered still evokes remorse. A rusted Ford 8N tractor, a Case 530 with a front-end loader and a Toyota pickup, along with a manure spreader and a nine-tine cultivator, helped produce succulent snap peas and chard, microgreens and kale, baby beets, asparagus, berries, cherries, purple eggplants and fiery habanero peppers. Naturally, it wasn’t easy. “I lose money big time on corn,” Stark notes, “but I sell every ear.” The cash crop proved to be tomatoes, those artisanal love apples with the most luxuriant nomenclature: Czechoslovakian Stupices, Wild Mexicans, Cherokee Purples, Striped Germans, Brandywines and White Wonders. Along with the story of pomi d’oro, readers get an introduction to regular farmer’s market customers and sellers and a field guide to the practices of Stark’s affable Amish and Mennonite neighbors. Other aspects of the author’s cultivation surface in references to diverse literary sources from Cheever to Crèvecoeur. It all combines to make entertaining light fare.
A fresh writer’s salad garnished with an colorful dressing for foodies with a yen for sensual comestibles.