Farms 2 Forks – from their web site…
“An Immersion with Engine 2 is a nutrition education program designed to give you what most of us have never received—a true education about what foods are good for you. Learn the science of food—how amazingly good and surprisingly bad food can be for your body.”
Getting in my car before to dawn to drive to Austin, TX for the Farms 2 Forks Immersion Weekend was my first ever solo road trip. Twelve hours and 737 miles by myself. I cruised through Kansas in the dark. I talked to my Mom through half of Oklahoma. Bill called to check on me as I entered Texas. The driving was a piece of kale ;p
Upon check in at the Omni Southpark Austin hotel, exhaustion set in. My plan of hanging out over in the SoCo was squashed. I let everyone know I arrived safe and sound, ordered some room service for dinner and fell asleep at 8:30. The bed at the Omni was top notch. One of the best hotel beds EVER. I fell asleep to the ‘Turn Down’ station – meditation tv to sleep to…yay!
Up on the first beep of the alarm, down to the gym to sprint a mile, showered, braided hair, books in my tote, ready to roll on over to Boggy Creek Farm for festivities!
I was early. Like a kid on Christmas. Once I was checked in, I grabbed a seat under the tent lined with string lights. By chance or design the woman who sat down next to me turned out to be the first of many gifts I would receive. After a bit of conversation about why we were there, I start talking about my garden, my tomatoes, my pride: the black cherry tomatoes that we grew last year. My table mate gives me a little funny look and says: “really? I own a seed company and my husband developed that variety” …I grab my phone to show her my photos…dozens of tomato glamor shots that hang on the wall in large format in my dining room. She chuckles and says that she thought she was the only one walking around with a phone full of vegetables. I am delighted to have shared the space with this kindred spirit..
Breakfast is served and we get started with the program. Rip Esselstyn is full of silly energy which he displays throughout the day. I like him immediately. He is the perfect pitch man for this lifestyle. Strong, knowledgeable, a man’s man as they say, but approachable and humorous enough to shed light on the silly ways we got here. He is the ultimate cheerleader for being plant-strong.
Jeff Novick is up next. He is a great speaker! He is instantly likeable, funny and entertaining while he imparts the most crucial information about nutrition. Filled with energy and Brooklyn charm, his jokes are hysterical and he breaks down the info in a way that makes perfect sense.
Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. – the Varsity as Rip says – takes a complicated subject like Asymmetric dimethylarginine ADMA and the life and times of the endothelial cells and makes us a group of Nutrient Dense Warriors by the time he is done. Teaching us all how to seek out Nitric Oxide forming dark green leafies and get down to the business of repairing our arterial walls. At 78 years old, Essy is a stunning example of good health.
We are treated to a great boxed lunch served on the farm. Boggy Creek Farm – an urban organic farm in East Austin, TX is a wonderland for me. I learn about maximizing my yield in my urban garden by wandering the rows of vegetables.
Dr. Doug Lisle mesmerizes us with his artful drawings and humor. Breaking down the Pleasure Trap so we all can understand, how this nation and the world at large has packed on the pounds over the past 50 years and why the convenience of fast food, processed foods and the fat/salt/sugar trifecta is killing us. It’s all about Genghis Khan, sharks and status you see. ;P
We learn how to make some simple tasty appetizers from Leanne Valenti – a shining sprite of enthusiasm who exudes a love for her profession unparalleled. She is the Student Services Coordinator at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. This girl gives a commanding demonstration, naturally at ease in front of the group and does so with a joy for vegetables that makes me want to thank her personally for being part of the show. I love watching those who love what they do – shine.
Carol Ann – owner of Boggy Creek Farm is up next and I cannot wait to learn more about the farm. She starts talking about her farming life and I find myself nodding in recognition of the principles she speaks about. When she talks about the history of the farm property I learn the original settlers were from North Carolina. When she talks about the joy of growing tomatoes a wave of emotion washes over me. Carol Ann is my heroine. Another gift!
It’s time for dinner out in the field with the vegetables and flowers. The tables are set with plates of hummus and vegetables. We sit and talk to our neighbors, sampling crackers from the upcoming Engine 2 food line. When everyone gets in line for the soup course, I find a quiet spot to call Bill to tell him I love him. On my way around the corner to speak privately, I look up to see a house being built on the farm, it’s almost done and it is spectacular. It is an 1840 Texas Dog Trot style house. I stand stunned, tears well up in my eyes as I call Bill telling him about my amazing day and the fact that I am standing in front of a real life example of the house we want to build in North Carolina. I had only ever seen one in a photo. Carol Ann has an urban farm and a dog trot. I am in awe.
Dinner was amazing. The people and conversations were such a warm welcome. Afterward, I find Carol Ann so I can thank her for having us here. We have the nicest conversation. I tell her about the tomato lady with the seed company, I tell her about my urban farm, about our property in North Carolina and about the dog trot coincidence. If you believe in such things. I don’t. I believe everything happens for a reason. We have a nice chat and on my way out, I remember I had not introduced myself. I tell her my name is Ami and start to walk away. She turns and says, “hey! My daughter’s name is Amy, she lives in North Carolina.”
Day one comes to a close. I float back to my car and the hotel on a cloud. I feel beyond blessed and thankful to be here, exactly where I am supposed to be. Everything about this day feels right and true. This is my future. I am going to be as energetic as Rip, strive to be as good at sharing information about this lifestyle as Jeff, I want to be as encouraging as Doug, that we can overcome the hurdles to live this way for life, I want to shine like Leanne when I demonstrate how to cook something, and I want to be a farmer like Carol Ann when I am living in our dog trot in North Carolina.
Stay tuned for Day Two…