Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of visiting Old Town’s City Farm for a reception honoring Ken Dunn given by Barefoot Wine. Given Ken’s focus on sustainable farming efforts in the city of Chicago, he was picked to be one of Barefoot Wine’s Sole’s of the Year. He’s doing great work around the city turning vacant lots into farming plots, such as the one that we were going to have dinner in. He also has done amazing work with promoting recycling and the use of reclaimed materials – like what he uses in City Farm. His entire story can be found on the back of the Barefoot Wine Impression Red Blend bottle.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed this particular piece of land on the corner of Division and Clybourn and not really noticed anything. It’s very unassuming and frankly without crossing through the open gate, you’d never know that there is a plethora of fresh produce and herbs grown there throughout the summer. The best part of that is the fact that 50% of what is grown is given to restaurants in the city, making the time from harvest to your plate incredibly fast. That’s the type of news that I enjoy hearing. In return for the fresh vegetables, which consist of things like collard greens, carrots, kale, and swiss chard, Dunn’s farm plots are given compost to plant their produce in. It’s a win/win (are we tired of that phrase yet? Either way, it’s the truth.)
When I arrived, there was this beautiful set up for 40 of us on this spectacular farm table, and several bottles of wine, including the Impression, a red wine blend, waiting for us. I’m going to admit right at this moment, that I’m all about the sweet wine with dinner, but I enjoyed sipping the Impression for the evening. It wasn’t as dry as most reds that I have tasted, and I wasn’t focused on getting it down like I usually do with wines that aren’t as sweet as I usually like. I think that I could possibly purchase another bottle and have it with dinner throughout the week. Can you tell that I am definitely NOT a sommelier? If you would like to take a gander at all of the wonderful culinary fare that we dined on, you can check out my Instagram feed via @HFofNicholes
Listening to Ken definitely provided a bit of insight about his passion for City Farm and the initiative. He broke down his reasons for loving these types of farm and most notably was the fact that it took unused land in the city and provided jobs AND fresh food for so many who need it. Up to $140,000 per year is harvested from each lot, and you can get 10 crops per year. That’s a lot from land that most people glaze over. Especially this particular plot. Since it used to house the low income property that was Cabrini Green. All of the produce was GORGEOUS. Of course you know, that since I am officially a grown up, I can refer to things like cucumbers, and collard greens and swiss chard as gorgeous. The leaves were full and a bright green, and there was no evidence of pests running rampant through the rows.
One of the magnificent views from the farm. Our amazing skyline. Hearing about a farm within the city may be an urban legend of sorts for some, but it’s happening, slowly but surely.
FIG catering set up on site to cook our delicious meal and used various vegetables from the farm. Having fresh vegetables that were harvested right before cooking was another one of the best things about tonight. The food was super fresh, and wonderfully healthy. It paired many things that I would never have thought to pair and now, I can’t stop thinking about them.
Hopefully I will be able to take the houseful’s trifecta (the ladybug, and the twizzlers) to the farm to learn a little bit more about where our food comes from. I’m sure that they would love it.
Now, how about you? Do any of you have gardens at home? How much more do you enjoy the veggies that you grow in comparison to store-bought? Share with me in the comments below!