I drove to Lunenburg on Wednesday to spend the afternoon with Peter Hardy, owner of Ashwood Ridge Farm Estate, a small self-start-up that produces organically and ethically grown fruit, vegetables, herbs and eggs. Only in it's second season, Ashwood Ridge is slowly and thoughtfully expanding every day, which by the look on Peter's face as he surveys his garden, may indicate he will soon be in need a helping hand.
'I hand water everything', he says.
'So you mean you run a hose from your house to water this huge plot?', I ask.
'It's a good thing we have a very deep well', he replies.
Peter also weeds the entire garden, on his own, by hand. 'I start at 6:15 every morning and work straight through until sundown. I drink a lot of coffee. People may find it strange that a Holistic Nutritionist's veins are full of caffeine but it keeps me going', he says, laughing. Ashwood Ridge provides Lunenburg's fabulous Trattoria della Nonna with fresh herbs and greens on a weekly basis and also sells berries, greens, beans, squash, fresh basil, tomatoes, potatoes and countless other varieties of fresh seasonal produce every Tuesday at the Mahone Bay Farmer's Market from 10am-2pm. In the fall, when the harvest is over, Peter continues on at the market selling handmade wreaths and preserves.
Peter's career background is based in the food and beverage industry. A cook by trade, he spent two and a half years working in the kitchen of Oliver and Bonacini's Canoe in Toronto. Moving home to Nova Scotia, he decided to change course and pursue a degree in Holistic Nutrition, which eventually led him, and his partner Alex, to buy a beautiful old farmhouse and five acres of land in the heart of Lunenburg.
'Do your friends and family think you're crazy?', I ask.
'Yes', he replies with no hesitation and a huge grin.
I wish I could share more photos of the garden with you, alas, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the release of the cookbook I am working on with Elisabeth Bailey. I was however, sent home with a generous bag of 'swag' from Ashwood Ridge - potatoes, baby squash, green, yellow and purple beans, fresh parsley, half a dozen eggs, two bulbs of garlic with the stalks still attached and a beautiful bag of mixed basil.
I decided to try out a new biscuit recipe using Peter's basil and his garlic as add ins. The biscuits are moist and a little crumbly and would be wonderful with a great bowl of soup or some homemade baked beans. I got the the basic biscuit recipe here.
Before you begin, roast one bulb of garlic and cook eight strips of bacon until crispy.
Fresh garlic with stalk attached.
To roast garlic, simply cut off the top of the bulb to expose the tops of the cloves, place it on a good sized piece of tinfoil, drizzle a little olive oil on top, wrap the foil around the bulb and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. The garlic I got from Peter was extremely fresh, literally pulled from the ground in front of me on Wednesday. After roasting for 40 minutes in the oven, most garlic will turn a deep golden caramel colour, however, because my garlic was so fresh, although soft and roasted tasting, it remained creamy ivory in colour.
Bacon Basil Biscuits
2 C flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 C sugar*
8 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
1 C fresh basil, chopped
1 C milk
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 bulb roasted garlic
- preheat oven 425 - grease muffin tin with butter, bacon grease or Pam
- whisk flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, basil and bacon to combine
- in a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and roasted garlic
- add wet to dry and mix until JUST combined - batter will be thick and lumpy - streaks of flour are ok
- fill greased muffin tin holes halfway with batter - put tin in oven - turn oven temp down to 400
- bake 20-22 minutes OR until golden on top
*To make sweet biscuits, maybe with fresh berries or lemon zest, up the sugar to 3/4C
A huge thank you to Peter Hardy for taking the time to give me a grand tour of Ashwood Ridge and allowing me to photograph his life's work.