A few weeks ago, my family and I enjoyed a farm-to-table dinner at Doko Farm, in the Cedar Creek area of Blythewood on the DuBard family land. Amanda and Joe Jones, owners of the farm on land that has been in Joe’s family since 1839, joined Chef Brian Dukes, executive chef of the Blue Marlin in Columbia, and many volunteers, who worked for their supper, to put on a wonderful autumn meal that celebrated the bounty of our local food.
|The tables await diners|
Chef Brian Dukes braised Doko Farm's pasture-raised Plymouth Rock heritage chicken legs and thighs with leeks in a rich broth and he grilled the breasts with wood from Doko Farm's pecan grove. He also grilled the chicken’s legs, which are much longer than the legs from ordinary chickens. The menu included roasted local sweet potatoes and turnips with herbs, fennel and beets with lemon vinaigrette and City Roots arugula, and bread and homemade apple pie from The Company of OHS in Ridgeway. The brisk air, brilliant autumn leaves on the trees, and conversation with fellow diners made the delicious food taste even better.
|Plymouth Rock chicken on the grill|
Guy Noir, a blue Jersey Giant rooster, greeted us as we wandered the farm before the tour of the farm, led by Amanda, began. Meandering around the farm were members of the laying flock of chickens. They are an assortment of breeds including Buff Orpingtons, Americanas, Jersey Giants, and combinations of breeds, also known as chicken mutts.
Four Guinea hogs, developed in the Southeast, which once lived on most homesteads but now are endangered, rooted in the soil in their area of the woods and took delight in burying their faces in the soil as they searched for treats. These hogs are allies for the Joneses in their battle to retake the pasture from the sweet gum sprouts and sumac; their rooting destroys any vegetation in the way and tills the beautiful black soil. Because Joe’s ancestors did not plant all the land with cotton, but instead had a diversified homestead with various animal and vegetable crops, the Joneses have thick black topsoil instead of clay or sand, devoid of topsoil, like many old home places.
I am glad the Joneses are reclaiming the farmland of their ancestors instead of allowing the beautiful house and grounds to fall into disrepair and to be overtaken by weeds. The grandparents and great-grandparents must be watching them with pleasure knowing that their hard work has not gone to waste and that another generation will farm and love the land.
By attending a farm-to-table event, the diner understands the origin of food. The same chicken we were eating once roamed in a neighboring pasture, and the vegetables came from nearby. The meal, albeit with a few gourmet additions Joe’s ancestors did not enjoy, might have been similar to a meal they ate one beautiful November day a hundred years ago.Because of the success of this sold-out event, the Joneses hope to have other similar events in the future. Motor Supply Company Bistro, in Columbia, is hosting Harvest Week November 15-20. The restaurant will feature Doko Farm’s heritage meats November 17. Other farms featured during the week include Caw Caw Creek, City Roots, Wil-Moore Farms, and Freshly Grown Farms. Call the restaurant at 256-6687 or find Motor Supply Company on Facebook for more information. To find out about upcoming events at Doko Farm, visit www.dokofarm.org or find them on Facebook.