Tracy Hayhurst is not just a chef and farmer. She also sees herself as an educator. As culinary director of the “Seed and Spoon” program at Husky Meadows Farm in Norfolk, she wants to not only feed guests like family but share the joys of seasonal food and how to connect with nature and eat like a farmer.
The land Husky Meadows sits on once was a dairy farm. In recent years, the owners took two acres of a 300-acre patch of land and turned it into a working, certified organic farm. Named in honor of the owners’ beloved huskies, the farm is offering a new program to strengthen people’s connections to food. Weekend culinary retreats will debut here in June, offering guests an experience in cooking healthy with organic produce that is sustainably produced. “I have been wanting to get people to experience basically what we do here every day, which is being on a farm and having fresh produce to cook with,” Hayhurst says. “We have seen from the farm-to-table movement in restaurants that people are interested in knowing where their food comes from, and when they go out to restaurants, they want their chefs to be sourcing local stuff.”
She has not seen many opportunities for people to engage with the process from the start, however, where they can see the fields and then go directly into the kitchen. “That’s the concept here and it is the whole process,” Hayhurst says. “It’s kind of lifting the veil to invite people in to see that process.”
Guests can stay on the farm in one of five rustic yet elegant suites with names like “Wolf Tree,” “Wildflower” and “Chicken Coop.” These themed weekend retreats (likely to be offered three times a month) will run Friday evenings through Sunday afternoons. While the schedule is still being tweaked, hearty farmer’s meals, cooking demonstrations and more are planned, along with down time for people to relax and hike along the trails or down to the pond. As the pandemic recedes, the demos will give way to hand-on cooking activities.
The atmosphere is inviting and informal, with a timber-frame barn converted into a kitchen and dining space, its white walls set off by rustic wood beams. Bedroom suites are filled with natural light and comfortably furnished.
From a small orchard that features brambles like raspberries and blackberries along with fruit trees, including a century-old pear tree, to an organic garden with more than 50 kinds of vegetables, Husky Meadows is all about sustainability and variety. Fifty chickens provide eggs, and plans are afoot to harvest mushrooms in the surrounding forest.
“We’re also demystifying seasonal eating because people think, ‘Oh, in May we should be having peas and asparagus,’ and some of that is true, but in the New England climate, some is not true. We won’t have peas until June,” Hayhurst says.
Seasonality will make its way onto retreat menus with meals varying based on what’s being harvested in the garden. “It’s really of the moment of what’s coming out of the garden,” she says. “It’s kind of like an adventure in eating locally.”
Hayhurst is excited to welcome people to the farm. “It’s a very intimate setting, so they’re coming to be our guests for the weekend,” she says. “It’s going to be an amazing experience, but it’s also very cozy and intimate and informal. We just want people to enjoy themselves, be taken care of and have a really fun experience.”