We consumers are getting stung and it’s finally making us look to our own backyard for relief. And that’s the wonderful thing about Rhode Island; it is one big backyard of vegetable, fruit, meat and dairy farms. If that plate of mesclun greens you are eating is hauled in from Exeter, Rhode Island rather than New Jersey, think of the resources saved.
I traveled to Exeter to meet with Jeffrey Kamminga, owner of Baby Greens farm. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse can take most of the credit for starting the mesclun salad craze in California twenty years ago with seeds from France, but Jeffrey has also been at it since 1993, growing and selling baby lettuces, micro greens, edible flowers and herbs to local restaurants. Mesclun means “mixture” in French and delivers a trio of flavor, texture and color to the plate, which is why their popularity hasn’t waned and Iceberg is still trying to stage a comeback. Baby Greens’ mesclun mix includes baby lettuces, arugula, mustard greens, chard, sorrel, sweet alyssum and more.
Jeffrey is a one-man show at Baby Greens, maintaining four green houses that produce year-round. He enlists the help of chickens to eat insects and perennial weeds and to maintain soil fertility. The nutrient-rich soil comes from Earth Care Farm in Charlestown and is U.S.D.A. certified organic. He also enlists the help of students from The Ocean State Montessori School in East Providence. They get the educational experience of helping out at the farm and leave with bags of greens for their families or the school store where they are sold to raise school funds.
Besides selling to restaurants, Jeffrey provides weekly home subscriptions. Yes, he will deliver washed greens right to your door and he says, “Everything goes out fresh.” He also believes “personalized service is the wave of the future” which is why he is test-piloting including bread from Olga’s Cup & Saucer and cheese from Narragansett Creamery in his delivery. What a combination! Pop open a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and you have a summer meal. Subscriptions occur in ten-week cycles and the cost is $75.00 for a full share of greens or $40.00 for a half share. Jeffrey is flexible and can alter amounts if you are entertaining or suspend delivery if you are on vacation.
If you want to be a virtual farmer or know where your greens come from without gassing up the car, you can go to http://get-ri.com/www.babygreensri.com and read Jeffrey’s blog, which lists the day-to-day details at the farm. “The story about the place is important as well as the process,” he says, regarding the disconnect consumers have with the food they consume. His motto for Baby Greens is “it’s fast food that’s good for you” and that rings true on many levels.
To start a home subscription, send an email to[email protected] or call 401-440-9088. You can also get Jeffrey’s greens at the Pawtuxet Farmer’s Market, Saturdays from 9:00 to noon. For more on Earth Care Farm’s organic compost:http://get-ri.com/www.earthcarefarm.com. For more on Rhode Island farms, farmers market locations and local foods:www.farmfreshri.org