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Backyard Terroir


It all started the winter of 2002. We stood in the middle of our newly purchased, derelict 25 acres, envisioning big things. "How hard could it be?" we thought. Now we stand in the middle of a property quite different from the one we first imagined—a place that demanded more of us than our naiveté predicted. But it is wonderful to behold! 

Fifteen years, twenty dairy goats, two Jersey cows (now three: go to Flower's page!), two acres of vegetables, 250 fruit trees, various pigs, chickens and ducks, two kitchens, a bread oven, a cheesemaking "salon," and no wine grapes later, we live in an ongoing agri-culinary experiment. 

We're investigating the connections between the qualities of a place—our backyard, in particular—and the flavors of the foods it produces. In short, we're asking the question: what's terroir all about?

Looking for answers, we're still learning a lot about land and livestock, as well as growing food, making cheese, cooking, preserving, and making mistakes. We're also learning about the true meaning of hard work. We've struggled with pests, weather, and hotly contended opinions about good practice. Thankfully, we've received help along the way from some really great people.

This website, and the Farm Bites articles, are places I'll share both sides of the journey—its demands and rewards. If you poke around, you'll find everything from recipes that reveal local flavor to my reflections on the challenges of culling loved animals. I'll pass along some of the secrets of domesticating wild microbes for making cheese and bread. And you'll meet some of the people and creatures who make possible the pursuit of a thoroughly unique backyard terroir, even in our all-too-standardized world. 


Terroir is the idea that qualities of flavor, aroma, texture, vitality and character in food are determined by the overall environment—climate, practices, people, soil, and microorganisms—that produce it. The notion is both practical and poetic... (For more, read The Artisan Way.)


 
 
  Mr Bolognese enjoys an apple.

Mr Bolognese enjoys an apple.

   Bootleg Blue , our first cheese.

Bootleg Blue, our first cheese.


 

I'd like to start a conversation with like-minded folks. If you're interested in the use of wild microbes in bread and cheese, the true challenge and joy of good husbandry, or how to make incredibly delicious backyard food, please subscribe to Farm Bites! I promise, no blah, blah, blah! I'll just tell you about what we do and what it's like to live the experience. It is quite a ride!