Willow Wisp Farm
Willow Wisp Farm has one of the most immaculate and eye-appealing stands at the Wednesday Union Square Greenmarket. There is a gorgeous rainbow of pristine heirloom vegetables, as well as thoughtful and seasonal floral arrangements on display. Because of this, we made our way across state lines to their eighty-seven acre property in Pennsylvania along the Delaware Water Gap to find out how they cultivate all this beauty.
Before our arrival we already felt a sense of their generous hospitality. They kindly asked us to join them for their daily lunch break with all the farm workers. We arrived just in time to sit down to a bounty of braised spigarello, olive focaccia, marinated feta, and dandelion greens salad.
After introducing ourselves, we learned about the background of the farm staff who help support Greg, the head farmer. We also got to know his wife Tannis, who is the cut flower grower. Tannis is also a theatre maker, educator and a community organizer. Recently she has started a Farm Arts Collective on the farm which hosts workshops, events, and theater performances. There are two performances the first weekend of August which relate the various works of Shakespeare to the agrarian landscape. Even their son Simon is involved, helping out with farm work two hours a day and performing in his mom’s theater productions.
Flowers and Fields
After lunch, we headed out to tour the fields. On the way, we first saw Tannis in action putting together her gorgeous bouquets for the Wednesday Greenmarket. The table was filled with buckets of flowers; it was a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. Outside of the barn we came upon one of her cut flower parcels. Seeing them them in their natural habitat was just as stunning in their well-manicured rows. We also saw the main reason Willow Wisp’s produce stays so pristine from field to market: diligent cleaning and cooling that keeps the vegetables in peak condition.
Greg once acted as the Executive Director of The Northeast Organic Farming Association until 2009. He is extremely passionate about organic farming, and therein dedicated to his soil’s health. Out in the fields, we looked more at the soil. Greg explained how healthy soil should feel. It should have some moisture, as well as a light and airy quality. This allows water and nutrients to be transported to the plants’ roots. To keep the soil’s integrity he rotates fields. Additionally, he plants cover crops like clover and oats. These help add nutrients to the soil and allow it a year to restore after an energy-emitting year producing vegetables.
We wrapped up the tour along the river, which called us into its cool clear waters for respite from the intense midday heat. Simon gave us a ride back to the barn in style and we were refreshed and inspired by the amazing work done on this hard-working family farm.
Halfway Acres Farm
It just so happened to be peak blueberry season in the region, so we meandered back east to Halfway Acres Farm to pick our own. In the golden hour light we traversed the rows of ripe organic berries. We quickly filled our buckets and mouths, harvesting nearly sixteen pounds between us for the PRINT kitchen. It was a productive and relaxing end to another inspiring and delicious farm adventure.