I recently attended a brunch provided The Farm School of Athol with a group Boston Brunchers. Since Athol is nearly 2 hours away from Boston, the brunch was hosted by one of their supporters in Cambridge. It was so nice of the family to welcome the group of us into their lovely home.
While brunch was being prepared we got to hear about The Farm school including their farming, animal husbandry, CSA, and the programs they offer on their 130 acres, which is made of about 40 acres of open land and 90 acres of woods,
The Farm School has programs for visiting schools that allows them to hosts over 1,500 students every year. During their 3-day stays the students are “fully integrated into the farm operations, rising early for milking, tending to the garden, fields and forests, and helping to cook meals with the food they have harvested.” This allows them to learn about agriculture, sustainability, and themselves. Kids can also experience more through their camp program by attending week long sessions throughout the summer.
As well as the short term programs, they have their own onsite school for middle school aged children called the Chicken Coop School. The total class is 10-14 students and has 2 teachers, which helps the kids excel with extra attention and a curriculum that allows for hands on learning with an emphasis on critical thinking.
I was starting to feel a little discouraged about all these great programs for school aged children. How can I go there? Well I soon found out that they offer year long Learn to Farm program for adults who hope to have their own farm one day. During the year you learn about everything ranging from marketing, farm animals, forestry, and homesteading. One of the courses is about beekeeping… sign me up!!
Aside from learning all about The Farm School, I carefully watched them prepare our brunch. They provide daily meals for hundreds of students and staff so preparing brunch of us must have been a piece of cake.
When brunch was ready to be served we each took a seat at a lovely decorated series of tables. The tables were covered in canvas table clothes and there was a runner that ran the entire way. Mason jars filled with stalks of yellow forsythia made the table beautiful, as well as filling the room with a light floral scent. Each place setting was marked with a flyer and a handmade napkin. We each we able to take the napkins. Such a cute gift!
Our first course plates were fresh cut tree trunks. This provided a rustic look to brunch as well as sustainable place setting. Also served on the tree trunk plates were breads provided from Iggy’s Bread.
We started with 2 versions of bacon. I only ate the strip of maple bacon. The maple syrup glaze gave the piece of bacon a lovely sweet flavor. The baked on glaze also made the bacon extra crunchy, which I enjoyed since I don’t like very soft bacon. I gave my piece of thicker pork belly bacon to Price. While I am sure it was very good (he said it was) I knew I would not enjoy the texture of it (see above).
The main course was a poached egg on sliced pork schnitzel cutlets with sides of spinach and potato hash. The eggs are farm fresh and their flavor and color were very intense. I had never seen such a yellow egg before! Besides my million photos I took before diving in, I had to tweet a photo as well since I was so impressed. I loved the poached egg on the pork schnitzel. The egg was covered in a silky Hollandaise sauce (my favorite thing ever!). The pork was very lean, seasoned well, and cooked perfectly. The cooked spinach was so sweet and tender. I wish all spinach was like that. I didn’t love the Adirondack potato hash because I think it was a little plain but the color was fun.
Throughout the brunch we were able to sip on coffee, iced tea, and peach bellinis. To sweeten the iced tea we could use ice cubes that had a bit of maple syrup in them. I didn’t notice much maple flavor in my tea but I thought it was a very creative to try it. I loved the peach bellini because the fruit puree was so fresh. I know I will have to try this at home one day!
To round out the brunch, we were served a maple bread pudding made from Iggy’s bread and the maple syrup tapped on the farm’s property. The bread pudding was naturally sweet and very moist. I am always in awe of a bread pudding that achieves the balance of golden brown crunchy top, cooked middle, and soft consistent texture.
Their 2012 veggie CSA has just begun to take sign ups. The 21-week program runs from June to October and offers different options and pick up locations in Cambridge, Watertown, and Orange. And if a weekend CSA is not for you then check them out at the Belmont Farmers’ Market. The weekly market is on Thursdays from 1-7 at the Belmont Center Parking Lot. There you can pick up there in-season produce as well as all-natural meats, free-range eggs, and flowers.
I enjoyed the food so much that I know I will make a point of stopping by their farmer’s market one day after work. I huge thank you to the staff that prepared the meal and our lovely hosts that welcomed us into their home.
*While I did receive this complimentary brunch provided by The Farm School these opinions are entirely my own.
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