So much for keeping cooks in the kitchen. The Anchorage’s Greg McPhee works the farm now, too. “I see the difference in the quality of produce you can get that doesn’t have a bunch of mileage on it,” he reveals. “This month, we’ll have squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, Kennebec potatoes. We started a bunch of different peppers—jalapeños, poblanos, shishitos.”
The award-winning chef may knead the silt and loam, but he defers the real crop talk to his business partner at Horseshoe Farm in Travelers Rest, Chris Miller. “Basils and herbs are coming in now, too,” the plant man shares. “We have brown fennel and dill, squash, beans—oh, and zucchini. I love the different kinds of zucchini. We have Cousa that’s a Lebanese zucchini. It’s light green and has a nutty flavor. And we have Costata Romanesco that’s Italian. They’re absolutely delicious.”
The two men met building a rooftop herb garden. At their new farm, by summer’s end, they’ll have harvested up to 75 different items, providing The Anchorage with as much as 80 percent of the produce on its diverse menu. But their real hope for Horseshoe is to share high-quality fare with the public through a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm-share program and the Travelers Rest Farmers Market, as well as motivate and encourage home-gardeners. “We have a pretty generous climate for growing here in this area,” Miller explains. “Even a few small containers can yield plenty of fare. Locally grown food is alive. It’s crunchy, crisp, sweet. It has character.”
In less than a year’s time, Horseshoe Farm’s initial quarter-acre has quadrupled, growing to include 250 beds, each 50-feet-long. In those beds, summer’s Poona Kheera cucumbers will eventually give way to fall’s Scarlet Queen turnips that will give way to winter fingerling potatoes and then spring arugula. “Everybody gets this idea that you have to plant in the spring and harvest in the summer,” says Miller. “But you can grow four seasons in this climate, if you grow stuff that does well in whatever time of the year it is. Okra. Eggplant. Beans . . . the farmer’s mind trails off, as his mouth starts to water, with what he’ll pick next to place upon the Upstate’s table.