There’s a lot to think about when planning a wedding. Heatherjean stayed focused on the farm – and the farm came through for her.
“It’s such a special place for me,” she said of Orchard Hill in Alstead, NH. “It’s my home of homes.”
Heatherjean is a longtime fellow food soul, now also my colleague at Babson. She broke the engagement news in the spring. Within two breaths, she shared that she would get married on her family’s farm and that the farm was raising a pig from birth explicitly for her wedding feast. “We’re planning the menu now, actually, based on what will be in season in September and the animals that we’ll raise for the meal.”
The food, where it came from, how it was tended and harvested, the soil beneath their feet when they walked down the “aisle” in the orchard, these were the supporting pillars around which every part of the wedding was designed and constructed.
On the day, the full Farm to Table Menu was printed inside the wedding program – from the finger food and celebratory sips enjoyed immediately following the ceremony as we ambled about the hilltop orchard, twitterpated and soaking in the sunset, to the eight hand-crafted dishes that comprised the full feast in the field down below.
At dinner, Chef Noah – owner of Orchard Hill Breadworks and maestro of the meal – told the salivating, chop-licking crowd: “Everything was grown either right here or no further than ten miles away.”
“The pig we raised,” Heatherjean had emphasized to me in the weeks prior, “that pig grew up in the woods right beside the pond. The greens came from these fields. This really is our food, in every sense.”
The hand taste of each and every bite – from the swoon-worthy Challah crostini and mulled blueberries with champagne in the apple orchard to the hypnotic dinner in the field for a mere two hundred and forty – reflected brightly the desire of an extended family to honor this marriage through food.
Many families have said as much. Celebration connotes eating. However few have literally rolled up their own sleeves, bent down, and grown – tended, slaughtered, butchered, harvested, prepared, mixed, cooked and crafted – their food into a veritable feast with every consideration for the Where and the Who of the process.
Heatherjean and Milo’s beautiful handmade wedding program reads, among its Gratitudes: Thank you to Noah, Addy and the catering team for the culinary wonder. Thank you to Marty and Ellen for raising the chickens, pigs and produce with love. Thank you to Lauren and Jason for handcrafting the cider and champagne…
During the ceremony, the skies opened up and it started to rain. The response was something I’ve never seen at a wedding, though certainly it was one apropos of farmers. Heatherjean, Milo, and the full wedding party turned their faces up to the sky and breathed it in like a blessing.