Farm to Table
January 25, 2013
As many of you know, our design studios and main production facility are situated in an exquisite rural setting in Upstate New York. The actual physical place that is home to MacKenzie-Childs was once a dairy farm called Highbanks. I wish you could see it; you should try to come and visit, for it is absolutely beautiful in every season. In spring and summer, the gardens are just overwhelming with their riotous colors and delicate scent. During even the harshest winter months, a quiet envelopes our grounds with the softness of snow, and warm light spills from the studio windows. The farm, the omnipresence of growing things, the almost startling gentleness of our animals; these things are all woven into the fabric of everything we make, everything we think about. In many ways, I think we are still a farm; a farm where instead of producing milk, we grow art and beautiful things for your table. In this fundamental sense, we are Farm to Table.
“Community” began when people stopped wandering and began living in one place. They began to see the sense in growing food, caring for animals, and the world saw the beginnings of agriculture. “Farm to Table.” From the earliest beginnings of recorded time, that’s the way people lived. Some found they had an innate affinity for the growing of things: the mechanics of seed-tending and watering, and the minimization of pests and invasive weeds. The close, careful observations of the sunsets when it was coming up on harvest time. The special ways in which grains, fruits, and vegetables should be harvested so they stayed freshest and the most benefit could be derived from them. The good of all. Those who did other forms of work, such as building and tending of animals and the telling of stories, expressed their thanks to these growers in many ways: in goods, in traded work, in coin, in gratitude, in prayer. Days of harvest were universally celebrated as the best days of the year; a community’s bounty, their shared wealth.
Somewhere along the way, the values bigger, faster, more came to supersede those of quality, character, wholesomeness. The response has been a backlash; an overwhelming, pervasive sensibility that people want their food to be healthy, fresh, good tasting, and above all, to come from a source they know. Even now, we still have a choice: We can choose to care about the place we live, what we eat, and how we prepare what we eat. Home can and should be our first and best refuge, and an ultimate delight. There is a reason for the saying “Home is where the heart is”…The reason for that saying is simple: It is the truth!
In much the same way, we feel an object, especially an object of beauty, should be as far as possible the work of a person’s hands; something their heart tells them to do. Whether that work is simply delighted surface decoration, or elaborate combination of components and materials; or more significantly, hand-formed by clay, and the very clay mixed from dry elements; for us this defines the idea of “Handmade.” We replace the chuck-ca-chunk of the stamping machine with the quiet swish of a brush, the long dry times of paint and carpenter’s glue; the hours spent in a furnace where the colors come to life in a long, extended blast of heat.
From our farm, to your table, with love.