Until recently, I've been sort of at a loss as to what to do with my love of food and my investment in making and eating food more mindfully. I love to cook, but don't want to go to culinary school, I like the idea of gardening but I don't know how - in large part because I have the world's blackest thumb. Seriously. Once my friend Monica, permaculturalist extraordinaire, brought me some plants for my apartment. "Don't worry," she said. "These are my hardiest plants. It's impossible to kill them." Guess what? Uh-huh. I've also been reading about different peoples' adventures in urban farming, which has been a lot of fun but when it comes to personal application, well, let's just wait until I have a backyard and can grow a tomato before we start thinking about chickens.
Enter a project that somehow combines all these wonderful things and more that I believe are the most important things in the world: local food, sustainable growth, and a focus on art, culture, and community. Farm & Table restaurant, opening March 1st.
I happened to see Farm & Table's ad the Tricklock Revolutions program while I was enjoying the festival last month. I needed a job and - as we all know - I have the experience, so I decided to call them up and see if they still needed waitstaff. They did, and Cherie, the owner, asked me to come down and talk to her about the restaurant and the possibility of working there.
I have to admit, when I traveled out to the North Valley to meet with Cherie for the first time, I was on the fence about the possibility of working there. On one hand, I had been unemployed for a while and this seemed like a business that was in line with my interests. On the other, I didn't want to wait tables. I left New York with the hope that I would never have to wait tables again - that I would finally have the chance to do something that I could see a future in.
I wasn't sure what I would say to Cherie, but after she finished talking about what Farm & Table was about, how it had originated, and where she saw the business going, all I had to say was, "Yes! YES YES YES. I am IN."
Farm and Table sits on a 10-acre piece of land with a farm from which as much of the restaurant's food as possible will come. Everything that doesn't come from the farm itself will come from sources so local, you'll know exactly how it got to your plate. Greens from the South Valley. Grass-fed beef from Las Cruces. And there's an atmosphere of education: the staff will know exactly where everything on the menu is from and so will the guests.
And what excites me most: a huge focus on community art and culture. There are already community events in the works for March and the restaurant is hung with works by a local painter. There are plans for arts outreach and on-site workshops for things like cheese-making or composting. If I were to create or become involved in a business that brought together all the things that I feel most passionately about, I have to admit it would look a lot like this. I'm looking forward to immersing myself in it, observing and learning as much as possible. I want to work in the garden, in the kitchen, on the floor, everywhere.
I'm especially interested in being involved with the community-outreach arm of this spectacular project. I hope to get involved with creating and coordinating events for the restaurant, and assist with the drive to reach out and connect with other individuals and organizations in Albuquerque devoted to arts and culture. And, as usual, I'm especially interested in using digital media to connect with the community in innovative ways. The website already has a blog and a Facebook page - hopefully at some point I'll have a chance to grow and evolve our online network. Ultimately, I want to help make Farm & Table the mainstay for the community and culture that I think it wants to and will be. I'm not sure what my role here is meant to be, but I'm excited to discover it and be a part of it in whatever way I can be.