It's pretty hard to dine with us and not eat something grown on (or laid at) Paradox Farm. For years they have been one of our biggest suppliers. They are also a major player in the sustainable food movement in our area. Owner Mitch Wapner serves on the board of the Healthy Foods Co-Op & Market in town, manages the Lexington Farmers Market, and is president of the Rockbridge Farmers Alliance. He keeps pretty busy for a retiree--he used to be an equine vet. When we caught up with him recently at the farmers market, he could barely talk to us. He was phoning customer Julie who had left without taking her bag of melons and chatting with customer Peggy who knew a woman who rehabilitated feral cats. He was fretting about his egg shortage, as his chickens were slowing down with the start of fall ("They are seasonal layers.") but demand was still high. "Red Hen took three dozen of my eggs yesterday. They wanted more, but I can't do it until the CSA season is over."
Still, he managed to answer a couple of questions, like: What's with 2 Farmers and Jo? (Sometimes Paradox Farm produce appears on our menu as grown by 2 Farmers and Jo.) "That's Cat and Chad, my farm managers. Alli Jo is their dog." Cat and Chad spent last year working as interns at Paradox. They did so well they were promoted.
We also quizzed him about his produce. Paradox is known for its quirky veg. Unusual heirloom varieties, things grown from saved seed--stuff you can't buy in a supermarket. He had some fantastic purple string beans that turn green when you cooked them, but we decided to ask him about the wispy carrots we had photographed the week before:
"Well, they're grown with love and without chemicals!"
Paradox is a stickler for all-natural. They use no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. To do this, they concentrate on developing and maintaining healthy soil. They use compost as well as aged and composted manures. In their literature, they refer to themselves as soil farmers. Said literature also apologizes for the less-than-perfect appearance of their vegetables: Our Eco-friendly philosophy of growing food means that much of our produce may not LOOK perfect, but our concern is that it TASTES perfect in addition to being free from chemicals.
But does veg get any more beautiful than this?
What do you think?