Green Meadow Farm partners Ian Brendle (left) and his father, Glenn, stand for a portrait in one of their fields in Gap, Pa. The farm grows several varieties of heirloom corn.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Green Meadow Farm partners Ian Brendle (left) and his father, Glenn, stand for a portrait in one of their fields in Gap, Pa. The farm grows several varieties of heirloom corn.

A shift from specialty restaurant produce to home-cooked menus

Green Meadow Farm afternoons have become the moment I look forward to most each week. That’s when I head to 22nd and Christian Streets, where the farm’s delivery truck arrives from Lancaster County to deliver boxes of agricultural bounty, and I discover what I’ll be cooking over the next few days. Earthy heirloom grits, foraged ramps, and deeply smoked country bacon have featured prominently on my home menus, which got an early boost with tips and recipes from local chefs.

I’ve dabbled with tiny hakurei turnips, fiddlehead ferns, sugar plums, sweet hickory nuts (my new obsession), braising greens, and bonus jars of honey from the farm’s hives to add a kiss of sweetness. And what about the plumpest chickens and ducks I’ve ever had the pleasure of roasting? I’ve learned to get three meals from each bird because, like many during this crisis, I’ve been cooking more than ever, and such exceptional ingredients have become inspirations.

Corn bread is pictured at Green Meadow Farm in Gap, Pa., made with the farm's own corn.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Corn bread is pictured at Green Meadow Farm in Gap, Pa., made with the farm's own corn.

It wouldn’t have happened if not for the pandemic. When the restaurant shutdown in March sent shockwaves across the food economy, the sudden public access to these rare agricultural treasures was born of necessity. Green Meadow, one of the region’s renowned sources of specialty produce to local restaurants, saw its deliveries plummet from 53 restaurants one week to seven the next. So the Brendle family transformed its wholesale operation into a direct-to-consumer CSA, with hundreds of customers eagerly signing on within the first month.

The logistical shift wasn’t easy, says seventh-generation farmer Ian Brendle. “You figure it out or, you know, you lose the farm.”

Thankfully, Green Meadow’s restaurant trade has gradually bounced back. But the ingredient boost for Philly’s home chefs will also hopefully continue, remaining one of the few things to result from this pandemic for the foreseeable future.

Green Meadow Farm, 1030 Mount Vernon Rd., Gap; 717-442-5222; glennbrendle.com and Instagram