As a chef, I have the passion to use the freshest ingredients. This usually means a couple of weekly trips to the local farm or farmers market. I would like to share with you a different perspective of freshness: Our journey through the process of establishing a garden on our property. My name is Jeff Huntzinger, and I am the Executive Chef at The Beaumont Inn.
I have always had a love for gardening; from a young age, I helped my grandfather plant his garden every year. My education was nothing more than him saying, “Dig a hole. Now put these seeds in there.” Once I was old enough to understand, he started telling me about crop rotation and soil quality. It wasn’t until I became a chef that I realized just how important a life lesson he had taught me.
Six years ago, I started working with the Beaumont Inn owner Rob Friedman. I had the opportunity to put my grandfather’s lesson into a practical application. We converted an overgrown field into a half-acre garden, and that is what chefs’ dreams are made of.
With some hard work and sweat equity, my sous chef and I started the process. We decided on putting in raised beds so that we could control our soil; it was a mix of topsoil and mushroom compost. From there, 75 varieties of heirloom fruits and vegetables were planted. From this experience, it became apparent that amazing things take place when you offer guests fresh products grown on-site.
Drawing upon past knowledge, our current goal is to push the envelope from items that can be found locally to unique: heirloom fruits, vegetables, and edible garnish. We are now in year 5 of the garden, and throughout a series of blogs, we will share our current techniques and methods in the hopes of igniting a spark in our guests, and other chefs alike, to reflect upon our own gardening practices and see what new paths can be taken.