Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer Farm Tour – Brenckle’s Farm and Greenhouses

On July 17th, a humid, 93-degree day, I had an opportunity to take a few of our employees out to Brenckle’s, one of the local farms that we partner with through our FarmSource program.  

Our team members at Brenckle's Farm
Brenckle’s has been a long standing partner of ours, and two years ago they won Eat’n Park Hospitality Group’s “Supplier of the Year”. They are great farmers and grow some unbelievable vegetables for us like tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, eggplant, cabbage and cucumbers.   

When we visited the Brenckle’s last  year, we had an opportunity to get into the fields and help them with planting. This year we decided to go a little later in the season and assist with harvesting, packing and other odd jobs that needed to be done around the farm. We started by harvesting cucumbers and zucchinis. The zucchinis are currently being used in our restaurants for our hand-breaded zucchini appetizer and our FarmSource Veggie Soup.

Fresh, local zucchini used in our restaurants
Unfortunately, the cucumbers we picked were only for farm stands – the pickling cucumbers used in our restaurants were not ready yet.

We also helped the Brenckle’s pick blueberries! Although we don’t currently use Brenckle’s blueberries in our restaurants, Gary Brenckle gave the green light to two of our employees to pick a few berries, and within 10 minutes, everyone else had somehow found their way into the blueberry patch. 

Picking blueberries
As we continue to work with the Brenckles, it’s nice to see the next generation slowly taking on the responsibilities of running the farm. Gary and Don Brenckle are both looking to relinquish their farming responsibilities to their sons, Greg and Gary. The younger two Brenckles are working on taking the family farm to another level.  They recently got their farm GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certified. Completing their GAP certification is a great investment, and it will help them in readying their farm for the future.

After we got done with the farm chores we all sat down on the loading dock and had lunch. We had turkey, beef and veggie burgers, grilled vegetables from the farm, potato salad and cucumber salad that was prepared by me (I hate to toot my own horn, but the food was pretty good). We also had a chance to try some of Gary Sr.’s homemade salsas and pickled peppers that he canned last year. All of them were really good, but my personal favorite was the shredded Cubanella peppers that were submerged in olive oil and oregano.  

Grilled yellow squash for lunch
Remember this is the time of year that local produce is at the height of the season. Take advantage of it while it lasts and stop in to see what local produce Eat’n Park will be featuring each week.

Until next time,

Jamie

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