How Vegan Farm Stand Began...
Moving to New England from my native Southern California as a child awakened my nascent love of cooking and leading a healthy lifestyle. Our family was the crunchy-granola one shipping in tortillas, making yogurt, and eating low-sugar at a time when it was not chic: nobody wanted to trade at the school lunch table!
Despite that, there were perks about these habits. Growing up with orange trees in the backyard in the San Fernando Valley in CA and Macintosh apples surrounded by a 200 year old stone wall in Middlesex County, MA introduced me to seasonal and "locavore" eating before it was popular. When we wanted a snack my mom told us to go pick an orange. I was the nerdy kid frying squash blossoms at camp and cutting out awkwardly shaped homemade ravioli.
Looking back it is not surprising that I gravitated towards a plant-based lifestyle. As a child I was always an animal lover; as president of the Save the Seals club in fifth grade we had two members: me and my best friend. I named each squirrel in our backyard.
Additionally, exploring the endless deep woods surrounding our home enabled me to both connect with nature and its amazing flora and fauna. Appreciating the topography of New England and witnessing its specific seasonal changes and wildlife gave me a grounded, connected feeling that I still feel today, which is why Vegan Farm Stand resonated as a name.
When I moved to NYC at 19 I was seriously interested in cooking for at least part of my living. A stint as a short-order cook at a famous punk rock club with a record canteen and volunteering at God's Love We Deliver-the first food delivery non-profit for AIDS patients-solidified my understanding that, through lovingly, well-prepared food, I could express myself creatively and give others enjoyment.
The opportunity to live abroad for 5 years in Spain, Japan, Argentina, and finally France introduced me to a world of fresh produce and endless farmers' markets where I could buy homemade tofu and potimarron (the world's best pumpkin, courtesy of France). The French word terroir somewhat encapsulates what attracts me to cooking with seasonal, local whole-food ingredients. This is the idea that the actual land of a place deeply infuses the comestible offerings which result from that region. Call terroir the product's "culinary spirit" created from a combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight.
After many years as a teacher of English as a Second Language and French ( and a tad of Spanish!), I realized that I had a knack for communicating ideas, especially regarding subjects that I was passionate about. My love of culture inspired me to experiment with global, plant-based recipes and as a vegetarian I finally accepted two things: one that I needed to give up dairy and eggs and two that I wanted to share my love of a plant-based lifestyle with others. The research that I did on how the animals were treated did not jibe with my love of blue cheese ( and believe me, I love it: the stinkier the better!)
Ultimately, enrolling in a plant-based culinary program, and getting certified as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator (VLCE) enabled me to start Vegan Farm Stand. In choosing the name, I wanted to reflect three aspects of my own personal journey to help others: the appreciation of local, seasonal food, a commitment to embrace kindness towards animals, and a love of service and thankfulness for the gifts of our planet.