Cranberry Beans, photo credit: ©2010 Paulette Tavormina. All rights reserved.


Our first “farm” was on the rooftop of our New York City apartment building.  Our first “crop” was the purple cherokee tomato, an heirloom variety tomato that we thought was the most delicious thing that we had ever put into our mouths.

At the time, we didn’t really know the significance of the word “heirloom” and we certainly had no idea that there were heirloom vegetables beyond those in the nightshade family.

5 years later we were growing 110 different varieties of heirloom vegetables and enamored of the purple carrots, the snowball tomatoes, and the pale yellow cucumbers that tasted completely different than any of their counterparts on the shelves of the local supermarket.

Heirloom varieties play an important role in maintaining genetic diversity in our food supply, but a casual conversation at a birthday party spurred another thought:

How might raising public awareness about heirloom varieties and creating a greater demand for them in NYC restaurants help small scale and family-run farms?

Watermelon Radishes, photo credit: ©2010 Paulette Tavormina. All rights reserved.

When we struck up a conversation about gardening at the party, we had no idea that the person sitting next to us on the sofa was the head of marketing at Sotheby’s.    Right there, over spinach dip and white wine, we concocted the idea for an auction of “edible heirlooms”.

Just in time for the harvest season, this first-of-its-kind event, titled The Art of Farming, will celebrate edible heirlooms and the art involved in their creation.  The novel concept provides a unique platform for local farmers, purveyors, celebrity chefs, food industry experts and high-profile New Yorkers to join together for a shared interest in the vitality of the Greenmarket and raise important funds for the GrowNYC New Farmer Development Project and The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm.  The event is supported by leaders and visionaries in the sustainable food and farming movement, including Eric Ripert, Ruth Reichl, Martha Stewart, Bette Midler, Dan Barber, Liz Neumark, and others.

photo credit: ©2010 Paulette Tavormina. All rights reserved.

The Art of Farming evening will begin with a cocktail reception with “local” hors d’oeuvres by renowned restaurant Rouge Tomate, which strives to address social and environmental issues, taking pride in farm to table cuisine and implementing sustainable practices such as their firm dedication to composting.  Jamie Niven, Chairman of Sotheby’s North America, will lead a live auction of Heirloom vegetables from more than 20 local farmers from the tri-state area, including Beekman 1802, John Gorzynski of Gorzynski Ornery Farms, Russell Glover of Consider Bardwell, Tom Culton of Culton Organics, and Richard Ball of Schoharie Valley Farms. All seeds for the produce on sale have been donated to the farmers by Landreth Seed and Seed Savers.

Also on the block will be incredible food and drink experiences such as summer farm internships for students, field trips for school classes, celebrity chef dinners, vegetable futures, farm-to-table dinners, New York wine country getaways, Brooklyn brewmaster tastings, and a bountiful silent auction of delectable items.

Following the auction, there will be an exclusive four-course dinner for benefactors, designed by a line-up of renowned celebrity chefs, including Jeff Gimmel of Swoon Kitchenbar in Hudson, New York, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Chef of Jean Georges, Roberto Alicea, Executive Chef of Andaz 5th Avenue, and Dominique Ancel, Pastry Chef of Daniel.  The decadent menu will be created using fresh, seasonal ingredients like those on sale at the auction, donated by local organic markets and livestock providers.  Each table will be hosted by a local farmer.

To complement the evening’s festivities, earlier the same day Sotheby’s will also host a series of high-profile gallery talks illuminating how art and food, flavor and culture, and trade and sustainability all impact- and are affected by- the journey from farm to table.  The afternoon’s line-up, led by Karen Karp, President of Karp Resources, includes industry veterans Scott Exo, Executive Director, Food Alliance; Mitchell Davis, Vice President, James Beard Foundation; and others.

The Art of Farming will coincide with and kick-off the 2010 Eat Drink Local week in New York City, the annual celebration of the local food chain, co-produced by Edible magazines and GrowNYC.  All proceeds from the event will benefit the GrowNYC New Farmers Development Project, which identifies, educates and supports immigrants with agricultural experience to become local producers and establish farms in the region, and The Sylvia Center, a program that inspires and teaches children to eat well through hands-on experiences at Katchkie Farm and in school and community centers all over New York City.

For more information on The Art of Farming, to purchase tickets, or inquire about how your company can provide support visit www.artoffarming.org or email Brent and Josh.

Artichokes, photo credit: ©2010 Paulette Tavormina. All rights reserved.

About Paulette Tavormina:

Paulette Tavormina’s photography will be auctioned off as part of the Art of Farming.  See more of her inspiring and beautiful photographs at Tavorminaphotography.com or at Robert Klein Gallery

About Eat Drink Local Week:

Eat Drink Local week is a celebration of the local food chain—a restaurant week with a mission.  It runs statewide from September 26-October 6, 2010, with the collaboration of all Edible magazines in the Empire State, and involves partners from the entire food chain—including restaurants, wine shops and wineries, breweries and beer bars, farms and food artisans, and cultural institutions that celebrate food.

Eat Drink Local week is co-produced by Edible magazines and the GrowNYC Greenmarket. For more information visit, www.ediblemanhattan.com.

by Dr. Brent

Reader Comments

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suzanne spina

I just emailed about tickets and company sponsorship. This sounds like a wonderful event. I hope to see you there in Sept. I completely support events such as this.

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sharon tree

I am a city girl now living my dream as a shepherdess in Wa state. Fortunately the farm does not need to support itself .. so aside from the occasional death or yearly selling of lambs, it is pure joy. I grew quite a few heirloom tomatoes last year , but because the appearance of many were so different than what I am used to I didn't know what was a healthy tomato and what was not… so didnt risk canning them. How do you and josh know when a miss shapened irregular colored tomato is safe to can??? Have you considered learning to spin the fiber from polka spot or your sheep??? Sharon Tree

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Delia

I so agree with comments re: your stunning photography. I keep waiting for a calendar.

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giuseppe

dall'italia un complimento per lo show.

il formaggio secondo me dovete farlo stagionare un pò di più ma forse i gusti americani sono diversi da quelli della campagna italiana, potreste lasciare qualche forma a stagionare per prova?

ciao from italy.

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Patricia

What a wonderful program. I first saw it when I was home for 2 months due to a broken shoulder. I am hooked. I have been searching for your cheese locally in Florida, but, unfortunately it is not available on the west coast. I find your program very refreshing. I too had dairy goats at one time and know the joys of playing with goats! The pigs – I had one too and she was "guest of honor" at many dinners. I have always wanted a llama but, alas, my neighbors would not approve. So I am content to watch you enjoy your friends. Keep up the great work.

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Tracy

What isn't there to like about heirlooms? I would plant them just because of their names alone but the taste of homegrown. Wow. My biggest problem is trying to limit the varieties I plant. Even with a large garden, there are always new old varieties I want to try.

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Julie Swift

Just a couple of comments:

1. To Josh & Brent – I am so glad that you are a part of our lives now. What a joy you both are, in good times and bad.

2. The raclette grill – I bought one of these things after seeing a story in our local newspaper. It is the most fun that our family has ever had at the dinner table! In the story it was termed, "the new fondue"….very appropriate! You must google and read about it. It makes sharing a meal so much fun….you will see what I mean!

Love to all………

From Benton, Louisiana

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Pat McGlothlin

Josh & Brent,

I loved the show this summer and sincerely hope it will continue. You are both very brave to share the ups and downs of both your personal relationship and business venture. The two are so intertwined that, like lye when handled incorrectly, each can have a deleterious effect on the other. Congratulations on your success!!

I also make goats milk soap and very much appreciate you sharing your recipe. Can you tell me who made your molds and where you buy the paper you wrap your soaps with?

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Angus

Dear Josh & Brent,

I never post, but I am moved to do so at the sight of your featured art work and I just completed 2 of Josh's books (I'm not myself and Bucolic). Loved and Laughed. I'm 1 1/2 Bud lights and a shot of tequila deep, must be why I am moved to respond. I love both of your spirits and you inspire me to stay true to my dreams. I always respond so strongly to the visual images that you put forth. I have never truly appreciated the art of farming until now. I was born and raised in a farming community in Northern Utah. My uncles raised sheep, still do. I go by the alias Angus (for obvious reasons but not very successfully). I can totally envision Aqua performing an Ac/dc inspired routine (did she ever?). I am currently a stay at home Mom (former professional interior designer). Thank you both for the artistic & spiritual inspiration. Much Love and Light, Angus

p.s. love Farmer John and they way he is so emotional about his goats, reminds me of myself!.

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