All photos/art by Michael Piazza
A typical workday for Tracie Smith, an organic-vegetable farmer in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, is a long one. Weeding, harvesting, planting–on midsummer days she’ll be on the move for as many as 16 hours to meet the demands of her 300-member CSA (community-supported agriculture) business.
Except at lunch. That’s when Tracie and her small staff sit down to a homemade meal that includes the farm’s produce. Put together by different staff members in turn, the meals are simple but nourishing–grilled cheese with tomato, spinach, and basil, for example–fueling Tracie and her crew for an afternoon of hard work. They’re also a delicious example of Tracie’s belief that eating healthy isn’t as difficult as it’s made out to be. “You can eat well and it doesn’t take a long time,” she says.
That’s something that even Tracie had to learn, though. A Connecticut native whose family meals were more processed than fresh, Tracie was in her late teens when she took an interest in vegetable gardening and tried growing her first crop of summer squash. Success bred more-ambitious dreams, and within a few years she was introducing her tomatoes, zukes, and beets to a small farmers’ market in southern New Hampshire, where she and her family had relocated.
Today, Tracie’s Community Farm (traciesfarm.com) is in its 11th year as a CSA operation, and it’s bigger than ever. Ten of her 33 acres are under cultivation; good soil helps, of course, but Tracie is also an evangelist when it comes to the power of fresh veggies. She teaches a class on organic farming, and through her weekly e-newsletter she serves up tasty options for her CSA members to consider. “When you join a CSA, you learn to cook with what you have rather than buy what you need,” Tracie notes.
Many of those dishes made it into Seasonal Recipes from CSA Farms of the Monadnock Region, a cookbook Tracie put together in 2007. They’re unfettered, uncomplicated recipes that tap into the bounty of the season and showcase Tracie’s direct and delicious approach to eating healthfully. “There aren’t a lot of steps,” she explains. “They’re just really good.”