The Essential Garden is a vehicle for several of my passions.
Recognizing great local and regional food ingredients as alternatives to volume-produced, off-season foodstuffs that are flavorless and nutrition-dead is a joy. If one lifts the veil of lifeless commercial food and spends a little extra effort to discover the astonishing bounty of what’s available regionally, one’s quality of life cannot help but be transformed.
Showcasing the growing number of farm-to-table restaurants in Cincinnati and in the cities I travel to is the most fun I can have. So many cities, even Cincinnati, are taking steps to do it well. I love supporting restauranteurs whose care for product quality translates into high-quality dishes.
The other venue for The Essential Garden is supporting local families and growers whose produce ends up in farmer’s markets or neighborhood outlets or on restaurant tables.
I first met Becky Webb at the Hyde Park market on a recent Sun and purchased beautiful shitake, which I transformed into an earthy, delectable mushroom soup in a post dated 01-Sep-2011, The Forever Discussion: Mushrooms. Very recently, I had the pleasure of receiving a personal tour of the Sheltowee Farm operation, this time guided by Becky’s husband, Bill. This is not your ordinary mushroom farm (if such a thing exists) and, in fact, Billy was careful to tell me that he and Becky are not farmers. There’s a rich history in Billy’s story, a wonderful synthesis of chemical engineering, creativity and perseverence.
The Sheltowee Farm, 211 acres, is located about 50 miles east of Lexington in Salt Lick, Bath Co, Kentucky, and is adjacent to the Daniel Boone National Forest. “Sheltowee” is a Shawnee Indian term for Big Turtle. Notice the ‘mascot’ in the photo.
An in-depth examination means I’ll be devoting several posts to the topic and, in fact we’ll be growing mushrooms together. Check in with me tomorrow.