April 17th, 2014
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"Farm-selfies," and a first-time visit to the Farm by our newest employee!

Brittany Pollard, or affectionately nicknamed “Bash,” is Tom Douglas’ assistant and our newest employee in the Douglas family. 

Prosser Farm always loves to welcome employees to the farm to help out, escape the drizzling Seattle spring rain, and enjoy the relaxations and serenity that looking out onto the multi-colored Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima River offers.

Take a look at Brittany’s beautiful pictures and her story as she visits the farm for the first time! See Brittany’s story here.

April 14th, 2014
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Inspiration from Charleston’s farm-to-table movement

Jackie and Tom went to Charleston, South Carolina for a quick Southeast getaway. Despite torrential downpour the entire time they visited, they found a charming community with exquisite cuisine, based on the familiar farm-to-table concept.

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More specifically, they dined at the two Charleston-based restaurants executive Chef Brock’s runs: McCrady and Husk. Even though Chef Brock operates under the same farm-to-table concept as our own Prosser Farm relationship with Tom Douglas Restaurants, it is interesting how different the menus and the ambiance develop to incorporate local culture as well.

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What was so inspiring about his restaurants, and Chef Brock’s efforts in general, is his dedication to the preservation of the old southern food traditions. His efforts include heirloom animal husbandry, canning, seed-saving (of which he is a passionate advocate of), and growing his own Antebellum-era crop varieties on the brink of extinction on his 2.5 acre farm on Wadmalaw Island. Even his restaurant, McCrady, is a Nationally Registered Historic Place and Landmark.

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He is quoted as saying “[it’s] not about rediscovering Southern cooking, but exploring the reality of Southern food.” That reality, as fellow farmers from the other coast, is the challenge and mission of all farm-to-table groups. We admire his activism, efforts, and success.

April 8th, 2014
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We have fallen in love with Lovage!

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This incredibly hearty perennial herb adds a celery and citrus flavored punch to so many dishes. Thanks to Renee at Brave Horse we have a new recipe for a favorite green Bloody Mary cocktail: 

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Lovage Mary Mix

1 ¼ lbs tomatillos

½ c water

½ c lime juice

½ c pineapple juice

3 T Bonache Hatch Sauce

¾ t prepared horseradish

2 t worcestershire

½ t black pepper

½ t salt

12 large lovage leaves, finely chopped

Roast 1 pound of the tomatillos at 400 for 15 minutes. Cool and puree with the remaining raw tomatillos and the water. Add all other ingredients, except lovage, and blend. Stir in lovage and cover. Best if it sits for a couple hours or overnight, but still delicious right away. Makes enough for four short marys.

TO MAKE DRINK

add 1 ½ oz tequila (gin was good too!)

4 oz Lovage Mary Mix

Serve on the rocks in a salt rimmed bucket.

And the stalks make great straws!

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March 27th, 2014
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Gone with the Wind—Welcome Prosser Farm Chickens!

Prosser Farm is now the proud home of 5 new chickens!

Jackie picked them up at the Portage Bay Grange in Seattle last week and welcomed them into their brand new chicken coop home.

Once they got settled, a huge Prosser Farm wind storm swept through the farm yesterday at 6 pm, upturning the coop (even after it had been set down with extra weights).

The whole farm team raced around collecting the chickens and put them in the garage, where they spent the night.

Once the weather subsided, feathers un-ruffled, the coop was rebuilt and the chickens put back in. And another egg was laid yesterday morning!

All-in-all, there are 5 chickens in the flock: two Ameraucana breeds, a Rhode Island Red breed. and a Barnevelder breed. The Ameraucana breed lays blue-green eggs (pictured above), the Rhode Island Reds lay a light brown egg, and the Barnevelders lay a dark chocolate brown egg.

Jackie will decide at the end of the year if they’ll butcher the chickens or keep them inside during the winter to keep for next year. For now, though, they’ll use the two eggs that have been laid to make egg pasta tonight and wait for the other three to mature in a month to egg-laying age!

March 12th, 2014
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Parsnipity

This last year we experimented with ”overwintering” for the first time. We left parsnips, spinach, beets and radicchio in the ground when we closed up shop in mid-November. The winters are harsh here in Prosser and we weren’t sure what to expect but the parsnips are a stunning success!

8 months after planting we have 800 lbs of the sweetest parsnips we have ever had.

Because they stay in the ground through the cold winter, they store and condense their sugars, making them super delicious!

We harvested the last of them Friday and our chefs are loving them! Check out what the chefs at Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, and Trattoria Cuoco made!

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clockwise: parsnips being harvested at Prosser Farm, black cod with roasted parsnips at Palace Kitchen, parsnip soup with apple garnish at Dahlia Lounge, and parsnip agnolotti with brown butter at Trattoria Cuoco

March 3rd, 2014
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Getting Ready for Farm Season

Once the last harvest is shipped to the restaurants, the last glimpse of fall pickled and stored for winter, and the soil is replenished with “cover crops" to reboost nutrients in the soil, the farmers hang up their overalls and begin researching and planning the next season.

And have they been busy! Here’s a quick glimpse as to what our farmers Dev and Jackie have been up to since closing the farm for the winter in November: 

  • visiting Dev’s friend David Ellis of Greens & Gills Farm in Chicago learning about his urban aquaponics farm.
  • attending the Young Farmer Conference for the second year, hosted at Stone Barns Center
  • visiting the Organic Seed Alliance in Corvallis, Oregon

imageOn David Ellis’ urban aquaponics farm, which supplies microgreens and other vegetables to Chicago restaurants, water replaces soil as the medium and fish supply the nutrients needed for the vegetables to grow. (Aquaponics is a self-sustaining agricultural “loop.” It’s vertical farming in its most efficient form. Read here to learn more.). Aquaponics is a burgeoning form of agriculture in urban areas. Dev and Jackie tried his micro greens both on the farm and while dining at Senza, by Chef Noah Sandoval. David brings a lot of passion to his idea and it really shows in the product! 

Next they headed to the Young Farmer Conference at Stone Barns Center. For the two years Jackie and Dev have attended, the conference has helped them see farming in an entirely new light. This year, the conference hosted many “elders” in the farming community. Their advice was blunt, but helpful: that a farm has to be treated as a business. Idealism and returning to the land is honorable, but building it in a profitable way is necessary—so be cautious and mindful! What does this mean for the upcoming generation of farmers and for Prosser Farm? Rethinking which vegetables to grow based on cost of labor and production and yield, and working with neighbors to create a more self-sustaining loop. Building relationships with neighbors has always been important for Prosser Farm, with friends like Kay and Clay at Chinook Winery, and Crawford Farms (who sources asparagus and blueberries for all the restaurants). 

imageTheir next visit was to the Organic Seed Alliance in Corvallis, OR. During their visit to the Seed Alliance, they learned simple seed harvesting and saving methods from small co-op owners (like the Morton’s who operate Wild Garden Seeds) to larger seed producers like Nash’s Organic. The seminar focused on participatory plant breeding, with speakers like Tom Stearns of High Mowing and Michael Mazourek of Cornell University, who advocate for these breeding programs—farmers, seed savers, breeders, and seed companies who work in unison to preserve and evolve our seed banks. This kind of collaboration helps to propagate vegetable varieties with specific traits: a disease resistant spinach or acclimated strain that grows in hotter climates. When you grow a genetic pool as versatile as the one the Organic Seed Alliance creates, the possibilities are endless (within the limits of our region, of course : )

Now Jackie and Dev are back at the farm, clearing the winter crop, harvesting the “over-wintered” (and deliciously sweet) parsnips, and getting ready for farming season! Visit this tumblr page and prosserfarm on twitter for up-to-date happenings of Prosser Farm and its farmers (and for sneak peeks on what’s farm-fresh at the Tom Douglas Restaurants!).

November 22nd, 2013
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What Farmers Do in the Off Season

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The harvest season has come to a close and now we (Dev and Jackie) have meandered back to Seattle, where we will await spring.

The farm has been covered in a variety of cover crops that will bring nutrients back into the soil. Our farm tools have been cleaned, sharpened, and then oiled and wrapped for safe keeping and longevity.

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We, on the other hand, are busy plotting our next expansion, which will allow us to include a fallow field in each year’s crop rotation, as well as room for our new chickens coming next year!

With this new space, we’ll grow more melons, tomatoes, greens, and root vegetables. We’ll also have space for longer season crops that spend the entire season growing, but are worth the wait (like parsnips)!

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During the winter “off” season, Dev will be cooking again in our restaurants, helping with the new expansion at Serious Pie Westlake (more to come!), and comb through seed catalogues for next year’s plant.

We will also spend December laying out the plans for next year’s rotations and beds and then calculating and buying seed for next season, which can’t seem to come soon enough!

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(Okra seed saving for next year)

This year’s harvest was incredibly productive, in which Prosser Farm brought over 50,000 pounds of produce to all our restaurants , with the able help of Rick our farm truck driver!

This summer, we also cultivated relationships with Washington State University agriculture researchers in the hopes of developing and growing a more diverse farm.

We also made great friendships with fellow farmers, like Crawford Farms from which we bought asparagus and blueberries, and Hogue Ranch, from whom we bought our delicious apples and concords all season long for our restaurants.

As the years progress we hope to continue to build local relationships with our neighbor farmers in Prosser so that we can bring an even wider fare to the Tom Douglas Restaurants!

Hugs and Kisses,

Jackie Cross, Chief Farmer

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November 14th, 2013
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Just in time for Thanksgiving…pumpkins!

Pumpkins and winter squash of all sizes have come in from Prosser Farm, just in time for the fall holidays!

Stacy, the executive pastry chef of Tom Douglas Restaurants, and Brittany, her sous pastry chef, baked, steamed, roasted, and pureed each pumpkin and squash variety from the farm to taste test for sweetness and buttery texture for this year’s round of holiday pumpkin pie, sold at Dahlia Bakery.

The verdict? The mix of Sweet Meat, Metro Butternut, Walthum Butternut, and Long Island Cheese Pumpkin created the best combination of taste and texture!

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We’re already seeing some of the pies sold at Dahlia Bakery, but to order yours for your holiday gatherings (or to see what other treats Dahlia Bakery has) click here!

November 6th, 2013
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Winter is coming…AND WE ARE PICKLING!

Prosser Farm brought over 50,000 pounds of produce this summer to our restaurants. That is a WHOPPING number for a 6-acre farm! 

Our chefs used the produce in soups, salads, appetizers, pizzas, sandwiches, desserts, cocktails, garnishes, and main entrees.

But there were definitely leftovers. What couldn’t be immediately used, got the creative juices flowing for our chefs as they thought of ways to preserve this summer’s bounty. They’ve pickled the veggies and now we get to enjoy Prosser Farm produce through the winter season! Check out what the Tom Douglas chefs are making below.

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Cuoco pickled carrots, and used the leftover tomatoes to make a canned marinara sauce!

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Serious Pie Virginia did some serious pickling! Cucumbers, green beans, peppers, carrots, apples, delicata squash, and white cucumbers! They’ll go on the mighty Serious Pie charcuterie plate.

imageChef Brock at Dahlia Lounge used up all of his pickled pearl onions as an accompaniment for their beef short ribs. He’s also pickling Prosser Farm peppers and using them on the special goat entree tonight! (You can also find them in a variety of French sammy’s at Dahlia Bakery.) 

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TanakaSan is pickling green tomatoes for their short ribs and peppers for the Loco Moco and octopus dishes! They’ve started some pickled padron peppers and Chef Brian is still conjuring up delicious ways to use them!

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Hiding in Palace Kitchen’s refrigerator are some pickled melon rinds! Chef Dezi is using them on his charcuterie plate and believe it or not, they are delicious (and a testament to Tom’s grandma’s recipe)! 

But he hasn’t stopped there— he’s also pickled green tomatoes for the Palace Burger Royale and tagliarini, cherry bomb peppers for the late night breakfast (10 pm-close), blended tomatoes for tomato jam on chickpea cakes, and long peppers for the Idaho trout entree.

October 23rd, 2013
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Prosser Farm is bringing sweet potatoes to Tom Douglas restaurants this week!

Although sweet potatoes generally grow well in warm and humid climates (think Georgia and North Carolina) Jackie and Dev conducted an experiment this spring, (see post). They saved 12 sweet potatoes wrapped in burlap, stored them in a cellar over the winter, laid them out in moist soil beds in the greenhouse in the spring until they shot out “slips”, and transplanted 125 plants into the ground over the summer. 

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Since their transplant those original 12 sweet potatoes yielded 500 lbs of creamy, fluffy sweet potatoes!!

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Jackie and the team digging up sweet potatoes yesterday morning.

Being a dry desert, Eastern Washington is not the typical climate for growing sweet potatoes but Prosser Farm had success with the Georgia Jet variety last year. The sweet potatoes have been moved around the property since then to find the right soil climate in the hopes of improving yield and quality.

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Sweet potatoes being hauled away for last Friday’s delivery.

Bradley at Brave Horse Tavern turned the sweet potatoes into a creamy mash for their Saturday nite BBQ special this past weekend. Dahlia Bakery will be churning out a soup later this week and they will also be featured in specials at both Serious Pies. Stay tuned for some pictures of what the chefs are making with these sweet potatoes!

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About Prosser Farm

In 2006, Tom Douglas and his wife and business partner, Jackie Cross, bought a house with a little acreage in Prosser, Washington, in the lower Yakima Valley. They converted 3 of the 20 acres into a vegetable garden, and the dream of a truly farm to table experience began to take shape.

Each week, we drive the fresh produce 2 ½ hours into Seattle and the chefs eagerly grab beet greens, mint, baby rainbow chard, lolla rossa, radishes, spicy peppers, eggplants, and thousands of pounds of tomatoes right out of the truck! On average, 2,400 pounds of produce a week is trucked in from the farm for distribution to all the Tom Douglas Restaurants. To see what’s coming to our restaurants each week, follow this blog!

Jackie runs the roost as Farmer-in-Chief, with indispensable help from her Dad, Jim, who built all the raised beds, and her Dad’s wife, Sharon who work along a stellar team of women from the Prosser area. The farm is managed by the ever-creative and zealous chef and farmer, Dev Patel. Dev and Jackie work closely with the chefs when choosing which crops to plant each year, adapting the field to produce what works best for each menu.

Prosser Farm represents a commitment to narrowing the gap between the land, its producers, and the restaurants, all the while continuing to educate our chefs about the effort dedicated to creating the best—from seed to table. Let’s eat!

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