Farmers and artists go to pasture

September 17, 2008 at 9:02 pm Leave a comment

Sunday evening we pick-nicked at Castle Rock Gardens, a 13-acre farm in north Chatham operated since 2001 by Ristin Cooks and Patrick Walsh. This was part of ChathamArts “Potluck in a Pasture” series. The gathering included local artists (a writer, a photographer, a potter, a rubber tire “sculptor” and a group of bluegrass musicians). Our potluck dinner included a variety of dishes made with local ingredients.

For me the best part was touring the farm and testing out my idea to write about Chatham’s pioneering sustainable food community. In attendance was Murray Cohen, who has been raising chemical and hormone free beef cattle for years in Silk Hope; he was one of the first “back to the land” folks who began merging new and traditional farm practices here decades ago, long before locavore was even a word.

Patrick, a bluegrass musician with Kickin’ Grass, spends most week-ends from March to November playing music gigs up and down the east coast while Ristin really runs the farm. They make a living selling heirloom vegable varieties at the Carrboro Farmers Market and through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) plan in which patrons “subscribe” to the farm and receive fresh produce throughout the growing season. They have heritage breed chickens for eggs and meat, and to provide fertilizer for their garden, and goats for milk and to help clear the place. They also have apples (heritage varieties grafted by Lee Calhoun), pears and at least one hog most of the time.

Ristin and Patrick are headed to the international Slow Food Conference in the Piedmont region of Italy in late October. I look forward to talking with them when they return and to interviewing Murray later in the season.  Stay tuned for their stories, and others, on this blog.

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What a radical concept…. Table for six billion, please

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