In an attempt to really understand what local means we bought a simple farm a few years ago and our Executive Chef, Josh Taillon, moved in to the small sandstone farmhouse that proudly anchored the seven-acres since the late 1800’s. I wanted to own the farm much more than Chris did, for me it was one more project; a potential wedding venue, distillery, wood shop, cattle farm, vineyard – I had big dreams until I realized that Jake’s was all consuming (and I was approaching 50 and beginning to feel it).
Earlier this week I drove by the farm and noticed Josh in the field. Not an uncommon sight on his rare day off during our busy season. I fought the desire to stop and chat – remembering the importance of time off and giving him time to be alone with his thoughts. The next morning Josh arrived in the kitchen with a well rested smile and lugging a box full of produce that I must have witnessed being harvested the day before.
He was so proud.
The box was full of beautifully dirty potatoes and tomatoes and scallions and peppers. Nothing like what I am used to seeing in the grocery store, I have learned that the irregular shape means much better tasting, and young Peter Martin taught me that it also usually means organically grown. The entire kitchen crew gathered around the prep table as Josh boasted about his bounty, his passion is intoxicating at times and we all soaked it up.
He then shared his recognition of how much work went into growing what was in the box. We had a great discussion about what the real cost of producing the box might be and calculated that each item in the box should sell for perhaps $50 if he were paid a fair wage for his efforts. Instead he was paid the same rate we pay all of our local vendors for his produce and he gladly accepted the payment – feeling rewarded not so much by the small check, but by the pride he felt and the appreciation we all had for his beautiful work.
As we enjoy the bounty of another perfect North Country harvest season, enjoy each tomato, potato, carrot, ear of corn and watermelon. And if you have a chance, thank a farmer for accepting much less than they deserve.