Story by Meghan Sheffield
Photography by Jeannette Breward
It’s the end of the winter — a blue sky day and brilliant sun make promises the still-frozen earth and damp chill can’t deliver on.
Danielle French, the owner of South Pond Farms, a farm-to-table event venue near Pontypool, Ontario, is almost apologetic. “It’s not a very photogenic time of year on a farm,” she says, as she meets us on the porch leading to her farmhouse kitchen.
Nothing green has even begun to peek through in the fields that roll out from the house, and even the tray of sunflowers in a south-facing window still needs a few more days before those shoots curl out from their seeds. It’s in this in-between time that Danielle turns to a winter standby, one that blends a commitment to local food with a need for brilliant colour on even the greyest of March days; a root vegetable and citrus medley, a salad sturdy enough for winter.
The root vegetables pop with unexpected colours — yellow beets, purple carrots. They come from right here on Gray Road, where her neighbour Jessica farms with heavy horses at Lunar Rhythm Gardens.
The oil is extra virgin canola oil, from Pristine Gourmet in Waterford, Ontario, a brilliant golden oil that seems far more like olive than the usual canola seen on grocery store shelves, but with a neutral taste that forefronts other flavours.
The citrus of course, isn’t local, but Danielle is using what she has on hand — a blend of lemon and blood orange juices, left over from another recipe. Until the cold frames at South Pond start producing, the greens aren’t quite as local as Danielle would like either. Still, greens from the greenhouses at nearby Circle Organics do quite nicely. A pinch of excellent salt goes into the dressing. Danielle produces her own line of herbed finishing salts, and uses those in her home kitchen.
It’s not complicated, it’s barely even a recipe. But it’s a reminder of the blessings of the earth, even on the coldest of days, and a promise of brighter days ahead. Simple but perfect.
Juice of one lemon
Extra virgin canola oil
Pinch of salt
Beets & carrot rounds, thinly sliced on a mandolin
A handful or two of arugula or other light salad greens
In a jar, shake lemon juice, oil & salt. It should taste equally rich and sour. Adjust if necessary. Assemble greens into bowls, top with root vegetables, pour over dressing, and mix well. Serve.