Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Getting Lost in Stockholm

Getting Lost in Stockholm I arrived in Stockholm to find that my luggage would be arriving hours after I did. In a group of fifteen students I figured that the odds were high we wouldn’t all come out unscathed, and was not bothered that it was me who would take one for the team. We were studying corporate social responsibility; we would be meeting with airlines and various branches of the Swedish government to learn how they approached their roles in the places they operated. This particular airline would chauffeur my bag directly to my hotel upon its arrival. Quite responsible, in my eyes.

We headed to our hotel, located in the Globen City neighborhood, and settled in. My cohorts, happy to nap and unwind before our dinner reservation, went separate ways to their rooms. I, however, had never been to Stockholm and had nothing with me to occupy my time besides Swedish television, and decided to head out and explore. After weeks gallivanting blindly through Copenhagen, I had the confidence of a traveler accustomed to not knowing the language and figuring it out anyway. A good map and a subway pass is all I need, right?

Lovely green spaces to get lost in

I took the metro into the city center. Our reservation was in two hours in Gamla Stan, the “old town” part of Stockholm, one of the smallest, central islands located where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Stockholm is made up of fourteen such islands, Gamla Stan being one of the first settled and designed, a beautifully preserved example of medieval architecture. I headed there, over a bridge from the T-Centralen metro stop, figuring I would find the restaurant and wander through the surrounding streets until dinner.

I exited the metro to find a beautiful park beyond the bridge before me. In early July, Stockholm is lush and verdant. The city is noted for its dedication to the environment and it shows it in its plethora of outdoor areas. I was immediately distracted. The park’s paths led me down to the water’s edge, where I ambled along, stopping to take in the city views and to sit on benches. Snapping photos and following intuition, I ended up at a giant brick building. Right on the water, it dominated the island’s end. It was surrounded by parkland, parts of it covered in ivy, and a golden tomb at its entrance raised high enough so that the person lying there still presided over Stockholm. I walked its circumference, posed for silly pictures with a graffiti-strewn Dala horse, and went on my way.

That giant brick building...

Dala Horse with a less common paint job

I walked further from the water, deeper onto the island. I came upon neighborhood bars and cafes, clever and space-efficient outdoor seating, and modern design shops located in century’s old buildings. This was a decidedly newer part of town, still old by Swedish standards, but it wasn’t screaming out “medieval” to me. I took the long road around a small park, dogwood trees in bloom, and began to wonder where I was. I should be getting to the restaurant soon. I referred to my map, searching for street names I saw before me. No matches. I walked a block, looking for a new cross street, and sat to find it on the Gamla Stan coordinates. I was off track entirely; I couldn’t find myself on the map at all. This is something that normally wouldn’t bother me, for I like to let a city guide me around without too many plans ahead of time. But I had twenty minutes to meet my friends, and had just figured out that I was completely off course. I found a bus stop, found the You Are Here arrow (it was written in Swedish but some things are universal), and made the realization that those of you familiar with Stockholm have already made- I was on the wrong island.

View of Gamla Stan across the water

I had been traipsing around the island of Kungsholmen, the building I had stumbled upon was none other than City Hall. Silly Lauren, you might try reading those guide books you carry around. City Hall is where they hold the Nobel Prize banquet, is home to the gold-plated sarcophagus of Birger Jarl, the founder of Stockholm, and home of the Stadshusparken, the serene and lovely sculpture park I enjoyed that lines the water. I had stumbled upon the Swedish Capitol Building and didn’t know it.

Stadshusparken at Stockholm City Hall

I found the nearest metro station, discovered the quickest route from lost to found, and boarded. Upon exit into a clearly medieval place, Gamla Stan unfolded and I arrived in the Stortorget Square, where I met my classmates with five minutes to spare. We sat and ate Nordic fish with fresh summer potatoes and spoke about traveling in foreign cities, war crimes, strawberries, and climate change.

From Lost to Found

I walked back to the hotel with a small group of friends, finding our way across bridges and over islands. We stopped for beer in an open-air café and chatted about where we found ourselves. They were in the middle of a European tour, taking the summer before finishing their masters degrees to travel and get inspiration. Upon graduation, they opened a design firm together, residents:understood, in Washington, DC. I was on my first European jaunt that would spark an enthusiasm and desire I did not know possible in me. Neither I, nor my luggage, have gotten so lost since.

Gamla Stan's Stortorget Square in the winter. Photo Credit http://www.adammoran.com/

Main photo credit: Adam Moran Photography

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A springtime renaissance; Remembering Danish hygge

A springtime renaissance; Remembering Danish hygge I’ve just spent my first winter in New England in 12 years. There was record-breaking snow and because of it I spent more days feeling like an arctic hostage than any I remember experiencing as a child. But, alas, I’ve made it though, and as I watch the trees begin to unfold their limey green leaves, I feel a general thaw coming to the region.

The first blooms you can trust in this region belong to the majestic Magnolia tree, whose giant teacup saucer petals burst forth before the leaves even bud. The pear blossoms explode around the same time, lining their long limbs with tiny white flowers. Before you know it, crocuses, tulips and hyacinths make themselves known below these limbs and we, collectively, release a sigh. We can trust that we are likely out of the snowy woods for another year. We are wary though, for we’ve been tricked in the past- all of the flowers have frozen under frost and snow before.

Tulips daring to bloom

People walk to work now with posture upright, no more shielding of faces or lunging into the wind. More smiles and remarkably fewer angry faces are seen on the street. We Bostonians take our time, feel the sunshine and its warmth, and dare to hope this continues. We leave the comfort of our heated homes and woolen sweaters to bare our blue-ish tinted arms and wind-worn faces to the sun, laying our blankets down on the first blades of grass. The scents of lilac and lily-of-the-valley begin to permeate.
I understand now, as I haven’t ever in my adult life, what it feels like to live in a truly harsh climate. I am reminded of past travels, for I spent the summer, a few years back, traveling through Scandinavia. I spent most of my time in Denmark, and read lots of Lonely Planet in preparation. The guide makes clear that if you travel in the spring or summer, that most of the Danes, and you if you want to act like a Dane while there, will spend as much time as possible in the parks, for it is there that they experience their springtime thaw.

Play dates in the park

I thought this was funny—I was a Californian at the time, accustomed to ever perfect weather—why would a whole population be compelled to the gardens all day everyday just because the sun is shining? Clearly, I was being shortsighted. Denmark has a vary harsh winter. It is far enough North to have very little sunlight for much of the season. Days are so short that the people take to their fireplaces, light their candles, and invite all to tea. There is an untranslatable word in Danish, hygge, that basically means a feeling of coziness and warmth. Oftentimes this feeling is referred to when describing an environment where conversation and ambiance is purposefully heightened to create a feeling of place and purpose. I saw this as a universal interest in one another and a desire to create beauty and comfort around you. It was, in effect, the deliberate making of a memory. I also see it as a little bit escapist; if we concentrate on the beauty and warmth we’ve created together in our little nook, then we can overlook the frigid winds and dark days outside. I see this as a distinctly wintery custom. I always picture a fireplace and hot chocolate (the Danes love their cocoa milk!). I channeled this custom many times this winter while attempting to create a cocoon around me to secure from the cold.

The flipside is how a Dane creates this feeling in the summertime, and I see hygge in the parks and gardens. These are Central and Golden Gate Parks type greenery. Large, established trees overhead, elaborate flower gardens, themed gardens for scent, fruit, color…all manicured and welcoming. These gardens are how the Danish government creates hygge for their people. They are the Danish living rooms: places for meals, naps, games, parties, visiting and just enjoying the warmth. Families and friends really do spend the day too. Baskets of food, multiple games, books and babies are packed up to enjoy to comfort of these centrally located and safe gardens. Parks seem to be where Danes go to make summertime memories.

Flowers in bloom in Copenhagen

I made like a Dane; I got a coffee and a wienerbrød, a book and blanket. I spent the day in Kongens Have, or, the King’s Gardens. I napped, I read, I gazed at trees above me, and felt as if I could stay wrapped in the embrace of the far north sun for as long it shined.

It’s spring in the entire Northern Hemisphere right now. Get outside and enjoy the flowers and sun, create some hygge for yourself and your friends.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show

The Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show I have long been a fan of flea markets and antique fairs. Having lived in the East Bay for the last decade, I’ve become accustomed to spending my first Sundays of each month scouring the tables at the famed Alameda Point Antiques Faire. This fair is known for its size, breadth and variety in antiquing circles, let alone its magnificent location- an old navy pier directly on the shores of the San Francisco Bay, with the area’s best view of the SF skyline. I spent many mornings there, clutching Peet’s coffee and cloth sacks for carrying my finds, then leaving—more than once—with mid-century modern furnishings that I still treasure to this day.

I’m in Boston now, far from the mid-century fanatics and wondering what the antiques of New England have to offer someone with Danish preferences. Well, I’ve just learned. The Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show, located just west of the famed Old Sturbridge Village, overwhelms this tiny town three times a year. I went with seasoned antiquers looking to refresh their flatware, serving ware, and furniture. They went in with strategy and something akin to a crazed look in their eyes, driven to find specific treasures within.

Giant Cast Iron Skillets

I soon wandered off, my old ways of aimless shopping overtaking me. Led by intuition and habit, I naturally gravitate toward kitchen equipment, modern furniture, lamps, art . . . I skip the jewelry and shabby chic sections entirely. I am as likely to walk away with an old men’s hat as I am a cast iron waffle maker. And indeed, I nearly did.

The antiques of New England are quite different from those of the west coast. There are Chesterfields instead of Herman Millers, civil war relics instead of embossed leather Mexican purses. I was a bit shocked to also see guns, WWII memorabilia of the pro-Hitler type, Confederate flags and blackface dolls. I made a rule not to buy anything from anyone also selling any of those things. It made me wonder what constitutes “antique;” doesn’t a universal acknowledgment of unjust belief systems and the items that represent them negate any value of age or condition? I was troubled that there were not only vendors selling these items, but that there could possibly be a market for their purchase.

On the other hand, the northeast values their sewing notions. Someone made all those flags by hand many years ago, and there were whole sections devoted to antique patterns, vintage machines, and all the accompaniments one could ask for. In addition to these wares, vendors also carried baby dresses and slips, all white with tiny lace rims and hand-sewn buttonholes. While I could only imagine the frailty of some of the fabric, I succumbed to a yard of a beautiful floral motif.

Baby clothes, aprons and pie plates

Also absent on the west coast were entire vendors devoted to a product line: Pyrex and Fiesta being the most popular. The Pyrex woman gave me an in-depth tutorial on the various patterns on bowls and the history of their shape and set combinations. It was more than I needed to know, but her enthusiasm was appreciated. Among other standouts were the collections of pocket watches, taxidermy (I almost bought antlers…but my better judgment kicked in just in time), letterpress inserts, new furniture made from repurposed wood, and true antique New England craftsman furniture, some beautifully preserved.

The antique show began in 1959 and has expanded in the years since. Now with thousands of vendors, the show stretches for what could be a mile or two along Route 20. Upon first glance, it seems unnavigable if not overwhelming. From the road, pathways of vendors flow out like tributaries on each side creating a meandering and not necessarily organized network of antique alleys. I was, at the same time, excited to explore and wary that I wouldn’t ever be able to hold everything I’d want to buy. Mostly, I was anxious that I wouldn’t be able to see every corner of the show and therefore know that I’d miss out on something absolutely meant for me. The manic and nervous child in me wanted a map and a compass, to mark my paths and not get lost.

Mango wood serving platters

Many hours, a falafel wrap, a minor sunburn, and two terribly tired arms later, I left with a variety of pie pans, a baguette board and two small wooden troughs for serving food in, two folding chairs from the seventies bedecked in a houndstooth woolen fabric, and a fur shall. Also, a spice grinder from West Germany, a true antique in that even its origins are old, for they link to a place that no longer politically exists.

I love these markets dearly. They are a link to eras long gone, a glimpse into what life was before we purchased everything online and in big box stores. The markets require you carry cash, they still accept checks (!), and it requires a person to person interaction that oftentimes results in learning about the item’s origins and design. Shopping in these markets results in your home being singular, handmade, and perfectly reflective of your design eye. Even if your item was once mass produced, like Pyrex or a particular fashion of furniture, it is likely that few items have survived the years in top shape. It is those items that your soon-to-be trained eyes will lust after.

Go find the treasures at a fair near you, and know that with all that lugging around of old stuff that you’ve likely purchased an item that few people in the world have, and that you’ve saved something worthy of preservation in doing so.

Letterpress inserts

The Brimfield Show happens for five days at a time: in May, middle of July and lastly in September. Look for information and exact dates on their website:

The Alameda Point Antique Faire happens each first Sunday of the month. Look for more information on the website:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fred Kirchenmann Inspires, Farnum Hill Cider Delivers

Fred Kirchenmann Inspires, Farnum Hill Cider DeliversWell, actually, Farnum Hill didn’t deliver. I traveled to Poverty Lane Orchard, home of Farnum Hill Cider, this week to pick up a case of donated heirloom apple cider (read: a delicious artisanal fermented cider made from cider-specific apples) for a benefit dinner being held in Essex, MA on May 1st. It was pure kismet that I was able to meet Louisa Spencer, co-owner and principle voice of the beautiful and admirable orchard just three days after a truly inspirational and informative lecture given by farmer, agrarian, and philosopher, Fred Kirchenmann at Harvard University.

I had been a fan of Farnum Hill for a while and for a few reasons: first, the cider and their parent farm, Poverty Lane, were featured in Michael Pollan’s documentary The Botany of Desire. The history of the apple, its spread, and it domestication were woven into the story of Poverty Lane and its efforts to preserve heritage and market varieties nearing extinction. This made me burst with pride, since at the time I was a homesick New Hampshire native working in the San Francisco Bay Area’s farming and food scene (we are doing amazing things on the East Coast too!). I vowed to visit if I ever moved home. Secondly, one of my favorite restaurants in New York, Txikito, a Basque restaurant located in Chelsea, serves the cider as a local representation of the ciders commonly served throughout the Basque country. Lastly, I was recently surprised to find out that one of my oldest friends does many of their NYC tastings and public relations. Maybe it’s too bold to claim fate or kismet, but I certainly felt the stars aligning; signs were piling up that I better familiarize myself with their operation, since I was obviously smitten even without doing so.

Earlier this week though, I had the good fortune to attend Fred Kirchenmann’s lecture. Kirchenmann is a Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University (where he is also a professor in the Religion and Philosophy department), and is President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. He also oversees management of his family’s 3,500-acre certified organic farm in North Dakota. He is an authority on sustainable agriculture and is at the forefront of the fight to change the way we grow our food. Speaking at a free lecture sponsored by the Hospitality and Dining Services of the University, the Food Literacy Project and the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Kirchenmann spoke about the unintended consequences of our current food production system and about the glimmers of hope he sees that will pull us through to the next era.
 Kirchenmann, whose high-tech graphics reflect his farming philosophy

One of Kirchenmann’s main concerns about the current farming system (and he specifically means large-scale industrial farms) is the loss of biodiversity and genetic diversity. By following the advice of past politicos to “Get big or get out” our farms have become specialized to one or two specific crops and have gotten so large that they are less efficient, resource and input dependent, fresh water reliant, and soil poor. Without a variation in the crops being grown, farms are more likely to have pest and disease problems and are therefore less able to make a transition to organic and input free. The loss of life in the soil and variation in plant types growing makes for a difficult predicament. Our farms that are miles long and wide, growing only one crop from end to end, are heavily reliant on the current system. It is only when we scale back and purposely grow more than one crop in a space that we can create a more symbiotic environment that may better reflect the natural water, soil and biologic systems.

By quoting philosophers and writers he believes to best understand the conundrum we’ve gotten ourselves into, Kirchenmann quotes Jared Diamond in his study to define why some civilizations in the past thrived, and some just fizzled away. Diamond believes that those that survived were able to do so because they could accurately assess current problems, foresee the future outcome and plan accordingly to avoid collapse. Those that did not plan for a major change disappeared. Kirchenmann believes that we, as a society dependent upon fossil fuels to support our food system, are in a position to either acknowledge the change that needs to occur and to plan for it, or should we choose to not plan ahead, the breaking point will incite chaos. Kirchenmann makes honest, educated observations for us to pay heed to, and offers the silver lining: the growing trend of eating within one’s “foodshed,” a new and growing generation of young farmers, and politicians demanding a food source that is sustainable and reliable.

Poverty Lane's apple trees
Enter Poverty Lane. A family-owned apple orchard for nearly 50 years, owned and run by Louisa and her husband Steve, the orchard has had two major incarnations. First, in the 1960s, Steve’s family grew McIntosh and Cortland apples as a side job.  After college, Steve purchased the land from his father, and ran it as a premium-quality producer of hand-packed, unwaxed apples for regional and export wholesale markets. After a slow realization that markets for their established crops were succumbing to competition from the west coast and abroad, Steve and Louisa began looking for unusual varieties that would  grow to the highest quality on their particular orchard site. This change could help them avoid the collapse that would be imminent if they just persevered with their common variety apples. With the benefit of full, established root systems from the existing trees, they began grafting heirloom varieties to the branches and crossed their fingers. This method only takes a few years to test a new fruit.

What resulted helped to changed the face of apple variety preservation and eventually pulled them into making fermented cider. By exploring old-fashioned eating and cooking apples, Steve expanded his interest to traditional English, French, and American cider varieties. Cider apples, much like wine grapes, often taste unpleasant when fresh; their value can be realized only after pressing and fermenting into cider. Years later, their cider, as crisp and satisfying as it could be, is pioneering its way into the best restaurants, gourmet shops, and onto tables of those in the know.

Louisa reports that the existing U.S. cider industry competes with beer prices but has time and labor requirements more similar to those of wine. As I watch her converse with the cider-room team, standing above their newest barrel-batches, pulling tastes out with a glass siphon, I realize that this is like every winery I’ve ever been to. They note the acidity, the effect on the palete, the tannins. But this is a category of its own, and instead of relating it to more familiar flavors, I want to just taste the cider for itself. Indeed it is dry, effervescent, refreshing and satisfying. It is distinct and should be considered as a worthy drink unto itself. To that note, Louisa says that their vision—“May we live long enough to see every good host keep a good red, white, cider and beer on hand to offer when a friend stops by”— reflects their desire to have U.S. ciders take have a an established place in modern bar repertoires.

The day we visited the orchard, it was 70 degrees, blustery and cloudy. Intermittent rains seemed to be coordinated with our entrance and exit from barn to pressing house to cider storage refrigerator to growler filling station. All are housed in barns collected in the center of rolling, apple tree covered hills. The trees are craggy and long-limbed, gnarly and low hanging in the way only an orchard apple tree can be. The gray skies and new green buds on the branches were pregnant with energy. Had I been wearing my Wellies, I’d have been lost down one of the curving, muddy paths leading to apple tree varieties this pick-your-own fan has never had the pleasure of seeing. I have always loved apple orchards; they are eerie and fabled and romantic in all the best ways, and this one, I promise, held the most intrigue.

Muddy paths to unusual varieties

What Louisa and Steve are doing, and what Kirchenmann talks about, is possibly the future of what our food producing country can look forward to. Finding different varieties of familiar fruits—that grow well in our foodsheds and create new diversity in doing so—is something that each of us can do, just by visiting local farms. Some of the apples that Poverty Lane sell for eating are lumpy and small, different colored and unlike anything you ever see at the large chain markets. But they are delicious. The land on which they grow will hopefully be kept devoted to their roots and flowers and fruits for a long time. Find your local farms and buy the funniest looking fruits they grow, and know that you’ve contributed to preserving the genetic diversity of our food system in doing so.

Visit Farnum Hill’s website to find out where to buy the cider: http://www.povertylaneorchards.com
Poverty Lane Orchards &Farnum Hill Ciders
98 Poverty Lane, Lebanon, NH 03766
603 448 1511

Visit Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture: http://www.stonebarnscenter.org/
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY 10591
914 366 6200

Visit the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture: http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/
209 Curtiss Hall, Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50011
515 294 3711

Main photo credit: Julia Frost, Chive Events

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An Earth Day Feast: Chive Creates a May Day Extravaganza

It’s just the beginning of a busy season. Chive Sustainable Event Design and Catering is doing parties with names like “The Pear Blossom Festival” and are sometimes twice and three times daily sending out food, flowers, and design elements rarely seen at catered events. This food is different. Their events are beautiful and have a homegrown aesthetic. They are filling a niche in the region for clients looking for seasonal food, curated design and sustainable practices. Each element of their business has been thought about from many vantage points, and delicious food is just one of them.

Using mostly repurposed platters, carved wooden serving utensils, fresh flowers and succulents, Chive has an aesthetic that denotes farmhouses, sunlight, and simplicity. They place water jugs on rounds cut from fallen birch trees, plates are often sourced from VerTerra, a company that shapes fallen palm leaves into serving ware. Owned by three young women, Chive, based in Beverly, MA, is launching into their third season, with new inspiration, a streamlined system, and a growing fan base.

Pop-up Kitchen in the barn. Julia Frost Photo.

Jennifer Frost, lead designer, creates stunning beauty from what some would think of as construction scraps (they serve hors d’oeuvres on an aged tin gutter and use wooden doors as menus). Her eye is exact and particular; her ability to create function and beauty from havoc is exemplary. Julia Frost, Jennifer’s sister, handles the business portion of the company. Well spoken to an admirable degree, Julia handles the PR, marketing, administrative, and operational needs. She also manages most events with an ease and style that is welcoming, informative, and purposeful. More than anything else at a Chive event, one will hear the echo of Julia’s voice informing each attendee that the food they are enjoying was all sourced locally. Lastly, Lindsey Wishart is the genius in the kitchen. With all the ingredients coming from nearby farms and menus changing each season to reflect the bounty of our region, Lindsey’s food frequently looks like art. She highlights the vibrant colors of beets and chard, uses local ingredients from Taza Chocolate, Valley View Farms and First Light Farm, and recently stretched her already far-reaching abilities by butchering her first pig.


Seating for sixty at the beautiful Cox Reservation. Julia Frost Photo.

The pig was for a party on May Day, where Chive created a gorgeous outdoor Sunday supper at the headquarters of Essex County Greenbelt Association’s Cox Reservation. One incredibly long table stretched on a newly cropped piece of lawn, thirty seats on either side, magnolias, candles and mason jars on top. The table was set for a six-course meal revolving around the various cuts from the pig, recently retrieved from Claddagh Farms in Maine. The inspiration was the local chapter of Chefs Collaborative, of which Chive is a member, who urge their members to throw Earth Day Feasts. While a bit late for Earth Day, the celebration of May Day did the organization justice.

Pork Report: Whole hog sustainability from Chefs Collaborative. Julia Frost Photo.

The Sunday supper was called Pig & Brew, and it was a true celebration of locality. With five savory courses and one sweet, each course was paired with a local beer or cider, one made by Lindsey for the occasion. All of the beer was donated by the makers; Ipswich Ale, Harpoon Brewery, Cape Ann Brewing, Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, and Farnum Hill ciders all came through for the event. Cape Ann Brewing even came in their Volkswagen bus, complete with beer taps on the outside. Lindsey paired each beer with her pork creations, among them: petit jamon, country pate, braised ribs on corncakes, paupiettes, pork belly confit, sausage, and meatballs. Accompanying these creations were Maitland Mountain Farm greens and bok choy, Tendercrop Farms carrots and parsnips, First Light Farm chard and A&J King breads. For dessert, a poached cranberry and walnut tart, made with Valley View Farms maple syrup, bourbon and Taza chocolate ganache, served with Batch Ice Cream from nearby Jamaica Plain.

Edible Boston with Chive feature, Cape Ann Brewing. Julia Frost photo.

In an act worthy of Earth Day, all proceeds from ticket sales were funneled directly back to the Greenbelt Association, a member-supported nonprofit land trust that has conserved nearly 14,000 acres of land in the county. In an effort to conserve biodiversity, fresh water, significant agricultural land, and to assure access to recreational activity locations, Greenbelt has worked in Essex County since 1961. This area is full of lush greenery, small, diversified—now protected—farms, rivers and estuaries. If you drive along route 133 through this coastal region, you will encounter seafood restaurants, antique stores, and estuary kayaking guides. There are also sandwich boards luring you down dirt roads with the promise of fresh berries and sweet peaches, crisp apples, maple syrup and honey, depending on the season. This is old-time Massachusetts, placards on houses date back to the 1600s. The Greenbelt Association helps preserve this beautiful atmosphere, keeping contiguous pieces of land protected for the benefit of all.

Local Beer Display. Daniel Ebersole Photo.

That Chive and the Greenbelt Association teamed up for this event reflects the compatibility of their respective missions. Chive, besides being a local farm and business advocate, are staunchly dedicated to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. They are a zero-waste company. Every scrap of unused food is composted, even their VerTerra flatware, through a company called Save That Stuff. Their compost ends up amending the soil at the farm from which most of their vegetables are harvested. They purposefully choose all other business needs by their ability to be recycled and reused. At Pig & Brew, as at all of their events, there were no trashcans, only recycling and compost. They even attempt to avoid recycling sometimes, knowing that reusing is always less energy-intensive. In an effort to support this mission further, they purchase all of their serving ware at local antique stores or fairs. They aim to educate their clients and the public—often speaking about the importance of locality and sustainability at various business group meetings—not only to further their own business and those they support, but because they are truly impassioned and believe that their methods are replicable and reduce overhead operational costs. At the Pig & Brew feast, Julia and Ed Becker, of the Greenbelt Association, realized that the favorite farm of Chive, First Light Farm, is on land protected by the Greenbelt. It was yet another closed loop system that both organizations hope to see duplicated.

Paupiettes, aka, pork three ways. Julia Frost Photo.

As Pig & Brew came to a close, and the women of Chive gave their signature bear hugs to the friends, family, clients, and purveyors that came to the dinner, the sun set over the trees surrounding the property. The broke down their pop-up kitchen in the barn, sipped a beer or cider of their own, and packed up their van. The property was empty of signs of the party just enjoyed there; the pathway running along the cropped plot of grass that leads down to the river was undisturbed by the footsteps and furniture that had been there minutes earlier. The land was preserved, the dinner enjoyed, and a community strengthened. It is always best to invest at home- find your own way of keeping the natural beauty and local businesses afloat near you, it’ll guarantee that there’s no place like home.

My tiny tarts- Maple Bourbon Cranberry with Walnuts. Julia Frost Photo.

Visit the Essex County Greenbelt Association website and contact them here:
Phone: (978)768-7241 email: ecga@ecga.org
The Greenbelt office at the Cox Reservation is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The public is welcome to stop by.

Visit Chive's website and contact them here:
Phone: 978-866-0208 email:  Julia@ChiveEvents.com

Read the article about Chive in Edible Boston here

Visit Daniel Ebersole's photography website and contact him here:
*Full disclosure: I work for Chive Events part time.