What “Bounty of the Season” Means in 2020
In a typical year, the phrase of “bounty of the season” would refer to overflowing crops—and, in modern times, chefs flowing in to purchase them. The year of 2020, of course, is no ordinary year, which causes Farmer Lee Jones to think about this concept in a somewhat different way.
“We were fortunate to have an extended growing season,” Farmer Lee says, “one that reminds me of how our great-grandparents would grow what they could to sustain themselves and then store their root vegetables to get the family through the winter. This extended season is definitely one of the positives of this year, although it’s also a bittersweet one because so many restaurateurs, chefs, and servers are struggling right now, among other people whose work is negatively impacted by the pandemic.”
Here are more of Farmer Lee’s thoughts about this truly unprecedented year.
Breaking Bread Together
Because so many more people are staying closer to home, this has led to their breaking bread together more often around the tables in their own homes—and being able to spend more time with their families. “People are cooking with their kids in kitchens,” he says, “and normally busy people—such as chefs—are able to be home for birthdays and other special occasions. So, there is good among the challenges.”
This scenario is what also gave The Chef’s Garden the opportunity to put our home delivery of fresh vegetables front and center, with people able to provide their families with delicious and nutritious produce without even needing to leave their homes.
Slowing Down to Appreciate Life
Plus, the pacing of this unique year has given Lee more time to pause—and this allows him to realize how forward thinking his father, “Mr. Bob,” really was. “He had such a focus on health and wellness,” Farmer Lee says, “and, when I look at the areas he was digging into, he was spot on.” (Here’s more about the farm’s agricultural research lab, one of the things in which Mr. Bob was truly passionate about.)
And now, increasing numbers of people are focusing on choosing foods for the nutrition they can provide their families, something that Farmer Lee’s dad was able to foretell. This food movement in fact dovetails with Mr. Bob’s love of John Ashton’s philosophy: “In harmony we all shall live and share the earth together.”
Creating Meaningful Collaborations
Farmer Lee is also grateful for the collaborations that have unfolded during 2020, some of which the farm team never would have slowed down long enough to consider. “For example, Chef Jamie and Chef Tristan,” he says, “have the genuine gift of turning lemons into lemonade.”
Examples of recent collaborations include one with Rare Tea Cellar, where our edible flowers are now part of three incredible teas. Another collaboration involves the use of our crops in four different artisan marmalades—Tomato, Beet, Carrot, and Pepper—created by Prospect Jam Company.
“We’re having conversations that wouldn’t normally happen during more hectic days,” Farmer Lee says, “and looking for opportunities that we might never have thought of before. So, we’re creating different kinds of seasonal bounty, including a special Valentine’s Day collaboration.”
People Reconnecting with the Soil
He is also encouraged by the number of home gardens that are being planted. “After all,” he says, “kids will emulate what they see their parents do, especially after they can taste something that they’ve grown themselves. This bodes well for future generations and their gardens. I’m also encouraged by the number of community gardens being created and tended, something our country hasn’t seen much of since World War II.”
As Reuters.com puts it, “People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family friendly hobby.” The National Wildlife Federation, meanwhile, shares especially encouraging survey results from 2020: “people across America are purposefully planting for wildlife, making a conservation difference where they live and advancing the wildlife gardening movement.”
Returning to Our Own Roots
The year 2020 brought the farm back to its roots, when we began selling directly to the public again through the Farmer Jones Farm Seasonal Market. “We’ve met so many wonderful people through this,” Farmer Lee says, “and I’ve enjoyed being outside even more than usual. I look forward to opening up this farm market again in 2021.”
When asked how he feels about 2020, overall—and what he expects, going forward—here are some thoughts: “There have been really tough times this year,” he says, “but I am optimistic about what’s coming. There are encouraging developments about COVID and, no matter what, God has us covered. I’m fascinated by how Mother Nature continues to work through us. Our bees have done very well this year, crops keep growing, and the sun keeps rising and setting. So, I’d say that I’m empathetic for the struggles people are going through and believe that, out of the ashes will come new growth, from new collaborations to new community involvement.”
Best of the Season: Fresh Vegetables
Here is the freshest—and most flavorful and nutritious—vegetables we’re growing right now. Please consider them for yourself and as gifts for friends and family.