Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Leaning Tree Farm - A Brazos Locavore Field Trip

The Brazos Locavore field trip to Leaning Tree Farm was a very special treat to those of us who frequent our local farmers' market as owners Lois and Garlin Vaughn offer by far the greatest variety of produce available at the market. And it was a particularly special trip for me because it was the Vaughn's produce that very literally enabled me to eat through my first winter as a locavore. Well, that, and the fact that in my 17 months of being a locavore, Lois and Garlin have become dear friends. So the opportunity to visit the farm and share the experience with my fellow locavores was a delight. 

Long before it was known as Leaning Tree Farm, the land, situated just south of Bryan-College Station, was first purchased by Garlin's father in 1938. The Vaughns inherited the land later and made it their home and the truly amazing farm it is today with year-round vegetables gardens and a beautiful orchard blooming in preparation for peaches, pears, plums, grapes, and berries later this year. 

As we walked through the gardens, through the orchard, and around the greenhouse, the Vaughns taught us to identify the blossoms on the peach trees that would produce fruit and showed the little ones how to pick their own carrots - the kids were a little unsure about this at first, but once they saw that gorgeous orange prize, their eyes lit up in excitement. Garlin shared his favorite growing tips, while Lois reminisced that the dates, early in their relationship, had been on this farm rather than the movies that their peers attended. Leaning Tree Farm, even before they made it their home, had always been their dream and now married 45 years, that dream is a beautiful way of life.

With the economy and the food infrastructure in disarray, the demand for local produce is on the rise and the Vaughns are meeting that need. Vendors at the farmers' market for 3-1/2 years now, they have no intention of slowing down any time soon. Current beds are being expanded; a grain mill just inside the house sits ready to grind more corn and wheat into the flours that decorate the market table each week; and just beyond the orchard, plans are being made to clear the brush to make rooms for more fruit trees (including apples, nectarines, pomegranates, persimmons, and more plums, peaches and blackberries) as well as more rows of vegetables.

Wrapping up the afternoon, we enjoyed Lois' fresh lemonade, made from the lemons picked just outside the Vaughn's front door. I have to say, it's the best lemonade I've ever tasted in my life. Whether that is due to the freshness of the fruit or the love that made it, I have yet to discover - maybe just one more glass...

I hope all our visitors enjoyed the trip to Leaning Tree Farm. For those of you who weren't able to make it, we've been invited back to share another tour in the future, so stay tuned for future field trip updates. 

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Brazos Valley Farmers' Market where you can find the freshest produce in town, straight from the Vaughn's farm. And, as always...

Happy (and mindful) eating!

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