June 9, 2010

Soup to Nuts: Wedding bell peppers . . .

. . . and other earthly delights from the garden of Julia Davis and Andy McLeod, who are taking the local-food movement to a whole new level in the name of love.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - Julia Davis and her fiance, Andy McLeod, surveyed their 7,500-square-foot garden in a peaceful meadow, pointing out where they've planted potatoes, squash, cucumbers and onions that are now shooting out of the fine sandy loam like strands of hair on a balding man's head.

click image to enlarge

Julia Davis and Andy McLeod plant tomato seedlings as Gabbie supervises.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Outstanding in their field: Julia Davis and her fiance Andy McLeod, with Gabbie, in the 7,500-square-foot garden in Washington from which they hope to produce nearly all of the food for their September wedding dinner.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

FOLLOW ALONG

YOU CAN FOLLOW this couple as they grow their wedding garden by reading Julia Davis' blog, "A Local Food Wedding, From Seed to Plate," at localfoodwedding.wordpress.com

IT COULD CHANGE between now and their Sept. 25 wedding day, depending on their whims and the weather, but here's what Julia Davis and Andy McLeod have planned for their wedding dinner so far. Some recipes come from two cookbooks, "Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd" and "The New Best Recipe" from America's Test Kitchen. Others, such as the cubed Hubbard squash with kale, are dishes that the couple made up together and like.

APPETIZERS:

Veggie sticks (carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, green peppers, etc.)

Homemade hummus

Fruit (cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, etc.)

Bread from a local bakery

Cheese

Homemade pesto

DINNER:

Roast chicken, raised by the happy couple

Autumn gold squash soup

Oven fries

Cubed hubbard squash with kale

Green salad

Caprese salad (tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olive oil)

Asian cabbage slaw

Pickles made from Davis' great-grandmother's recipe

Bread from a local bakery

DESSERT:

Pie made by the bride and groom's moms

Ice cream from John's Ice Cream Factory in Liberty

"Some days it looks big, some days it looks tiny," McLeod, 34, said of the garden.

"The days we weed, it looks bigger," added Davis, who is 30.

McLeod and Davis resemble any other young couple trying their hand at gardening, but few others have attempted what they are trying to do here on a loaned plot of land in central Maine.

This is their wedding garden.

Davis and McLeod are growing virtually all of the food that will be served at their Sept. 25 wedding. And they have enlisted family and friends to join them in the kitchen on Sept. 24 to transform their harvest into a delicious wedding dinner.

Davis is writing a blog about the experience called "A Local Food Wedding, From Seed to Plate."

Lots of people preach tirelessly (and sometimes tiresomely) these days about the idea of local, organic, sustainable food production, but this couple is putting their rhetoric where their mouth is. They are even planning to raise their own chickens, which are expected to arrive July 1 and in September will be served roasted with squash soup, oven fries and cubed Hubbard squash with kale.

Some observers will invariably think they are crazy -- does a bride really need any more stress as her wedding day approaches? Others will admire the guts it takes to throw planting and weeding and watching the weather into the long mix of chores that have to be done before one of the most important days of your life.

"That's incredible," said Anja Winnika, editor at TheKnot.com, when she heard about the Maine couple's plans. Winnika said serving local, organically grown foods at wedding dinners is a huge trend this year, but she has never heard of anything quite this local. (Davis herself could find only one other couple, somewhere in the Midwest, growing their own wedding food.)

Food has taken a front seat at weddings, Winnika said. Catering companies now offer 100-mile meals, and food-centric couples are making their own jams, pickles and herb-infused oils to give as wedding favors.

"But I've never actually heard of growing all their own food and then making it and serving it," Winnika said. "That takes it to a new level."

COMMON DENOMINATORS

Davis, who works for the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, and McLeod, who works for the Medomak Camp where the garden is located, met through a family friend about four years ago and became engaged last Halloween.

They knew they were meant to be together early on in the relationship. Both share similar philosophies of life and food, factors that played a role in starting their own wedding garden.

They both like knowing where their food comes from and being connected to that, and they wanted to save money.

"But then we also really just like providing for our own needs," Davis said. "We make our own maple syrup and we brew our own beer and we've smoked our own bacon. We cut our own wood. We're not the kind of people who just sort of sit around. We like to be active and doing things, so we thought this would be a good project for the summer."

It's also something of an experiment. Davis and McLeod are looking for their own land where they can start a small organic farm after they are married, so they are keeping detailed records of their wedding garden to learn from their successes and failures.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Julia Davis and Andy McLeod are growing virtually all of the food that will be served at their Sept. 25 wedding.

  


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