Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman

Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman

Author:Jonathan Kauffman
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2018-01-23T05:00:00+00:00


Nobody alive, not even Samuel Kaymen himself, can remember quite how, but after a year of house-sitting, he met up with a man named Kim Hubbard, who asked the Kaymens to farm on the property Hubbard had bought in Vermont, thirty miles southwest of their house-sitting gig. It just happened, Kaymen says, in the half-conscious manner of a charismatic charmer who doesn’t fully understand his appeal. “I got a reputation as a loudmouth,” he guesses.

There was an old hunter’s cabin on the property, which two adults and a clutch of small children moved into that winter while they built a house for themselves. But Kaymen was too extroverted to be an isolated homesteader. He says he thought he’d learn more about organic farming if he began teaching it, so he named the land Nature Farms and called it a farm school. The man who barely knew where vegetables came from five years before advertised that he was taking students.

Twenty-some people came that summer to work on the land. Kaymen would wake his charges up at 5:30 a.m. by banging on a big Chinese gong every morning, until the neighbors complained. The students would climb out of their tents or tipis (eventually, as the months passed, they would graduate up to shacks) and make their way to the main house, where their teacher would pass out mugs of hot mint tea or watered-down apple cider vinegar and honey. The farm students would first spend an hour reading a chapter in one of the books Kaymen had amassed. Then they would head out into the fields, breaking for a lunch of salads and gathering again in the evenings to brew up big pots of brown rice and stir-fried vegetables picked from the fields. They had no chickens, so eggs were scarce, and they occasionally scored enough milk from a neighbor to ferment up a batch of yogurt.

Kaymen set up contracts with macrobiotic restaurants in Boston, grocery chains in Massachusetts, and even pickle factories in New York’s Chinatown to buy the vegetables they were growing. In the winter, the students would take off to warmer cities and reassemble when the snow melted into mud.

In his orgy of reading about soil, Kaymen had come across biodynamics, too, and he took a truckload of his students to a conference of the Biodynamic Association in Spring Valley, New York. Young and scruffy, the newbie farmers seemed the opposite of the older German, Austrian, and English anthroposophists. But the two groups soon found common ground. Not only were they both interested in farming without chemicals, the youngsters were open to esoteric spiritual theories that the older generation had hidden from the public for decades, and the anthroposophists began sharing with the hippie kids the full extent of Steiner’s philosophy. Along with the Howard-inspired compost piles that it cultivated, Nature Farms buried horns filled with manure and applied biodynamic preparations to the land.



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