This is the farm to fork story of cranberry and goat cheese salad with pepitas. A couple weeks ago, on a gorgeous, windy day, Guy Gillespie of On The Vine Farms was kind enough to let me be a “farmer for the day” on his 3 acre farm in Casa Grande, AZ. The first stop was in the greenhouse where I learned how to pick lemon basil. After about ten minutes, I noticed Guy was about half way down his row while I was still on my first plant. He jokingly pointed out, “I think you’re over-thinking it”. Great, I stink as a picker! So much for getting out of IT work. I swiftly starting moving down my row, only to produce what looked like no more than two measly bags of basil. But of course, Guy will never admit if he had to re-pick my row or not.
We then moved onto leaf lettuce out in the field. I have a new appreciation for leaf lettuce, because this was tedious picking. Each leaf needs to be cut one by one. I told Guy that I could never work for him at the Farmer’s Market, because if anyone complained about the price of the leaf lettuce, I would scold said person in a headlock with “Do you know how long this took me to pick?!!”
I had a great time talking with Guy while picking. I learned that he is a third generation farmer. It is in his blood. In the past, he grew monocrops like cotton, but didn’t like how dependent he became on fertilizers and pesticides. He and his wife, Heather, started growing sustainable, pesticide/herbicide free produce 10 years ago on his farm, and have not looked back since. To the Gillespies, sustainable farming is a lot more work, but just makes a whole lot more sense.
As we washed and spun dry the leaf lettuce while I was secretly head bobbing to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” (my 16 month old’s favorite) on the radio, I thought, “this sure beats sitting in a cube like a veal.” But owning and operating a small farm is really a labor of love. Guy had already put in a 12 hour day before I got there, and was putting in another 5 hours after I would leave in preparation for the upcoming farmer’s markets.
So next time you are at the Carefree Farmers Market, North Scottsdale Farmers Market, or Ahwatukee Farmers Market, stop by at On The Vine, say hi to Guy, and grab some lovely leaf lettuce for this recipe.
- Prep Time : 10 minutes
- Yield : 2
1. Put washed and torn leaf lettuce in salad bowl
2. Add goat cheese, cranberries, pepitas
3. In small cup, add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, and whisk.
4. Add dressing to salad and toss.