Charm Of The Farm

You can see Chris Kurth's Siena Farms stand from blocks away as you walk toward Copley Square, the banks of sunflowers blazing before the facade of Stanford White's Boston Public Library. It's always been the nicest stand at Boston's nicest farmers' market, one of a gratifyingly large number of markets all over the city.

I take any chance to go out and see his farm, which grows vegetables and salad lettuces and herbs for many local restaurants--and most of all for his wife, Ana Sortun's, wonderful Oleana restaurant, in Cambridge, which serves Turkish and eastern Mediterranean food of such freshness that you don't need any of the Spice that is the subject of her very good book, though she makes a very strong case for the spice mixes she makes (and sells) using peppers and spices she directly imports.

I had even more fun getting to visit Chris's farm with Kevin Kertscher, of Indigo Studios (and husband of a former Atlantic colleague), in the paradisal South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Kevin makes everybody he films look good and sound smart, though in Chris and Ana and their farm, named for their adorable towheaded daughter, he didn't have to work very hard. You can see for yourself in the first of four videos we'll have on the site, in a new Farm to Table series.

Me, another matter. He did tactfully omit the jungle-gym swinging Chris and I did to get up to the rafters of his barn, where Ana and he string braid after braid of new garlic to dry--instead of a ladder, he uses a chin-up bar and jumps, so I did too. Kevin does show me somewhat compulsively sniffing a green tomato from a new crop. I've become tomato-leaf-obsessed lately. "The smell of summer," Chris poetically calls it; I thought the stem end smelled just like a full tomato sauce, and was very glad to see Harold McGee defend the use of tomato leaves in sauce, even if we've all been taught they're toxic. He takes the risk in his own kitchen, and I plan to in mine too.

I hope you'll take the video as reason to go straight to a farm stand, even if it, and the staff, aren't quite as picturesque as Chris and the Siena Farms crew. For ideas of what to cook with the abundance, consult our recipe library--and watch for the next episode, when I visit Ana in the Oleana kitchen and see her use leaves you would never imagine would be great to eat and are. Not tomato, though. She does cook for the public, after all.