It’s funny the things that make one abundantly happy when you have grown up close to the sweet-smelling earth of the Glen. It’s the golden sunsets that touch Wilshire peak, and the warmth of summer days that bring hints of ripening berries on the breeze, and of course the changing life of the trees. When just before fall they put on a thick coat of leaves and prepare the branches for the coming weight of harvest. These are the things that excite us to share our little treasure with others and our Farm-to-table dinner gave us the opportunity to do just that.
After weeks of logistical puzzle piecing and orchard scouting we finally settled on the one. There between rows of Fuji and Arkansas Black Apples we laid tables with cream linens clad with greens and herbs. Mom and I pooled our china ware blues and sprigs of rosemary garnished each setting.
The “putt putt” sound of our antique Farmall tractor let us know that our guests were about to arrive. The meal was plated in our farm cottage and featured local growers from Hemet, Mentone, and Yucaipa. Locally roasted coffee and freshly baked baguettes came to us from our neighbors in Calimesa and Redlands.
Dad is the man to elegantly introduce people to the evening. Guests grabbed a glass of hard cider and joined him for a brief walk through our new Espalier style trees. He then gathered them to the tables and said a word of prayer before the food came bustling to the tables.
My grandpa and I often talk about the history of agriculture in America and how it served to shape a people. This seemed a fitting topic for the evening, so Grandpa Dennis Riley addressed our guests bringing banjo music and antique farm implements.
Strawberries picked fresh from our field and hand churned into a soothing sorbet (topped with local honey, lemons, and mint) were hand made by the lovely Hosanna making her one of the stars of the evening. Mom of course designed and made all the rest of the tasty vittles which yielded heaps of full bellied praise (much to her blushing bewilderment).
Then we heard from Chris Ross, our cider master, who discussed the Oak Glen Cider Company at the ranch and the beauty of this sweet drink. As desserts were served and the twilight hour set-in it was time for Farm Friend Nathan Westwick to speak to us about the art of coffee.
The evening finished out with a lovely summer fog that decided to settle in our little valley. The twinkle lights glistened in the wet air and guests cozied around the campfire with blankets and last sips of sweet coffee. Jon once again started the loud engine of the Farmall and invited our crew to say their final goodbyes. Off they all went leaving us feeling accomplished in our endeavor.
The Farm-to-table fad that’s sweeping the nation, may be just that. A fad. But it does offer us humble farmers and country dwellers a much-loved opportunity to speak to you directly, bring you into the earth of our orchards, out into the roughness of our fields, and make something truly beautiful come to life. Take a moment to enjoy the beauty that God has breathed into this sweet land.