Meet Jennifer, HOMEGROWN Flock-tender
I’m over-the-moon happy to introduce y’all to Jennifer Wehunt. You’ll be seeing a lot of her on HOMEGROWN.org, tending the flock, so be sure to say hello!
Jennifer and I will be rolling out some big changes to HOMEGROWN.org over the next few months, and you’ll see some right away. Can you spot them? There are good things happening. Very good things.
We sat down over pie today for a brief get-to-know-you chat. It was cherry pie, if you must know.
Where do you hail from?
I’m at least a sixth-generation Texan, and darn proud of it (go, Willie!), but I moved to Massachusetts this spring from Chicago, where I went to grad school for journalism and worked as an editor for Chicago magazine, writing about culture and food systems and craft beer. Chicago is a great city, if you like eating as much as I do. Maybe too much. And I loved living near Lake Michigan.
But I have to say, I adore New England: the walk- and bikeability, the friendliness of the people, the beer scene, the seafood, how easy it is to get to the mountains and to the beach. My husband has a lot of family in the area, and we’ve been visiting them/mooching off of free places to stay so often that they’re probably sick of me already. I’ll have to bribe them with canned tomatoes.
Is there agriculture in your family?
I’m among the first in my family in a century or more who didn’t grow up on a farm. My maternal grandfather’s forebears immigrated from Bavaria to farm and raise Hereford cattle in the very German-sounding town of Buckholts, Texas—which I’m guessing is an Americanization of something more like Buchholz, as in Clay.
My maternal grandparents went on to become the superintendents of a children’s home in north Texas that doubled as a working dairy farm and raised pigs and chickens and crops. My mom grew up helping harvest corn, onions, potatoes, watermelons, and Israeli melons; churning butter; picking peaches. They would put back what they needed to feed the kids and sell the rest at the local farmers market.
My father’s family moved into town from a rural community when he was a kid—my grandfather worked as a ranch hand and milked cows for a dairy—but my grandmother brought her garden with her. I have fond memories of picking peas in her backyard, a novelty at the time for a city girl like me.
My cousins grew up in the country, and I spent a lot of time on their property—not doing chores, unfortunately, so much as goofing around: jumping off hay bales, swimming in the cattle tanks, stringing beans, and trapping scorpions (in mason jars: true story).
What are you growing these days?
Ooh, boy. It’s going to be a good year. Maybe because I missed out on full-time farm life, I’m an avid, if amateur, backyard gardener. When we moved to the Boston area this spring, we found a fantastic apartment in Somerville, just north of the city, and my landlady appointed me gardener in chief.
A few things are already done for the season, but right now, for tomatoes, I’ve got supersweet 100s, sun golds, old Germans, purple Cherokee, and jet stars; I’ve got a lot of poblano peppers, cucumbers and zucchini, maybe seven or eight basil plants, and several other herbs. I planted those cherry tomatoes pretty early, so we’re already in the thick of it. I try to pick enough for a salad but I end up eating half of them before I get inside the back door.
I’m hungry. What’s in your fridge?
I’m about to pick up this week’s CSA, from Red Fire Farm, so a whole new week of adventure awaits, but in the past few days I’ve made: a pretty all right zucchini squash pie; grilled steaks and grilled slabs of squash and potato topped with a compound butter using basil and rosemary from the backyard; and a zucchini Cheddar beer bread with local zucchini, local Cheddar, and local beer. The cilantro that came in last week’s share was the perfect excuse to make fish tacos for dinner last night. I love fish tacos almost as much as I love cherry tomatoes.
What excites you most about the HOMEGROWN community?
It feels like finding my people! I’ve been cooking and preserving and gardening for a few years, but mostly on my own, so I have a lot to learn—and this is definitely the place to do it. There’s so much knowledge to be picked! I can’t wait to get to know the folks who are already here, and I’m thrilled to help spread the gospel and help other relative newbies like me find HOMEGROWN. Finding HOMEGROWN was like finding my new apartment: It felt like home immediately.
Welcome home, Jennifer.
Jennifer’s recipe for zucchini squash pie can be found in the latest installment of the CSA Cookoff.