The Fantastic Garden of Carol Koutnik

Les Choux Merveilleux by Carol Koutnik

It’s not every day that a celebrated artist stops by and asks to paint your garden. But that’s just what happened, almost a year ago to the day, when plein-air painter Carol Koutnik visited our farm with a vision for her next project.

Carol has been our wonderful friend and faithful Farm Share customer for many years.  She told us she was initially inspired by the food she received each week, “food worthy of painting”.  She said the freshly-picked vegetables began to stir memories of her uncle’s beautiful garden from her childhood in Chicago, that she visited often as a child.

But she grew up as a military kid, then as a married woman, moving all over the world but never in one place long enough to plant a garden.  That garden from her childhood grew in memory until she needed to capture it in paint.  We showed Koutnik around our gardens, and she used it as a springboard for something extraordinary.

Now, this weekend, at the Rockport Center for the Arts, Carol Koutnik will unveil her latest exhibit, “The Fantastic Garden”. This collection features forty diverse works of art: oil paintings, fortune-tellers, graphite sketches, and clay images. The art is simply breathtaking.  The work focuses on many vegetables from the garden, but best of all, Koutnik features cabbages.

I knew these cabbages, or at least thought I did. I planted them painstakingly from seed, coaxed them to maturity for ninety long days, and watched their tender hearts form in the center.

These forms are what attracted Koutnik to the garden, and what she captures so brilliantly in her work: the unfolding heart, with all its secrets, with all of its creative power.

Her colors are surreal; the light and shadow a revelation—it’s not the plant, but the spirit of the plant she sees. I looked at those cabbages a hundred times from my hands and knees, as I scanned the plants daily for cabbage loopers and cutworms, but I never got even a glimpse of what Koutnik saw.

David Hill, Adjunct Instructor of Art at Texas A&M—Corpus Christi, offered a glowing review of the exhibit. Hill explains that the cabbages are not artistic symbols, but instead they are “living things that remind [the artist] of nurturing, mystery, maturity, and fecundity.” Hill says the work is an “experience of cabbages, the experience of curiosity and marvel.”

Those humble cabbages are now five feet wide up on the canvas. Koutnik has transformed them into something entirely new, something timeless.   They are now the process of creation itself, the energy of the earth blooming in the paint on her canvas, the secrets in the heart of the cabbage, in the heart of the artist, unfolding, opening in ever-expanding leaves of color.

Now, this garden belongs to everyone. Now it belongs to you.

You can see “The Fantastic Garden” of Carol Koutnik this Saturday, April 8, at the Rockport Center for the Arts, the same day and starting place as the Rockport Tour of Homes. Koutnik will give a gallery talk at 4:30pm on Sat, April 8th.  The exhibit runs through May 13th.

Fantasticke Zeli by Carol Koutnik

The Great Tomato Workshop this Saturday, March 18, from 9:00am to Noon!

Juliette Variety Tomatoes (Four String Farm)

Friends, Kayla and I are excited to host a tomato gardening class at Four String Farm this Saturday, March 18, from 9:00am to noon.

This interactive hands-on workshop will teach you everything you need to know to grow delicious, healthy, prolific tomatoes.  On our farm, we grow thousands of pounds of tomatoes each season.  We will show you the techniques we have developed over the years to get the most sweet and flavorful tomatoes with the least amount of work.

Everything You Need to Know to Grow Wonderful Tomatoes!

We will cover soil health, how and when to plant, tomato varieties, companion planting, how to trellis, irrigation, fertilizing, mulching, pest control, tomatoes in pots, and more. This will be a hands-on class. You will actually plant tomatoes in bare dirt to demonstrate the techniques, and we will answer all your questions in the process.

The average tomato plant yields about five to 20 pounds of tomatoes during the season and often gets ravaged by pests and then shuts down in June. We will show you how to get 50 lbs or more from the tomato plants in your garden throughout the summer!

We Will Have Some Helpful Materials on Site, if You Need Them

Some materials, such as a sturdy trellises, can be difficult for a backyard gardener to find in small quantities. We will have these materials available for you.  If you like, we can cut small sections of trellis for you, so you can take home only as much as you need at very little cost.

We will have our favorite varieties of tomato six-packs and 4” plants (along with appropriate companion plants) on hand if you would like them. We will also recommend the stores and other resources in our area where you can find these items.

The cost of this workshop is $20 per person. You must register and pay in advance for this class.

Click here to pay $20 per person to register for The Great Tomato Workshop on March 18 from 9:00am to noon.  We will e-mail you with directions and more details upon registration.

Thank you friends! We look forward to seeing you!

Farm Share Coming to Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market!

Tea at Eleanor's Coffee Bar + Market

Tea at Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market

Friends, our Farm Share is coming to Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market in Corpus Christi!

Beginning in March, Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market will be a pick-up location for the Farm Share. We will deliver the Farm Share to Eleanor’s on Fridays for you to pick up between noon and 3:00pm. (To reserve your Farm Share at Eleanor’s, please stay tuned to this site. We will announce openings for March in the next few days, thank you!)

Kayla and I are thrilled to partner with Jessica Gignac, the owner and creative force behind Eleanor’s. Kayla has followed Jessica for years and loves everything she does. Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market is elegant and classy and tasteful with a great vibe.

eleanors-store-front

Here is a sample of what you will find at Eleanor’s: seriously good coffee; high-quality teas; fresh juices made from wholesome ingredients; avocado toast with poached egg and micro-greens (definitely try that one); smoothie bowls; the baked goods of Fed by Bread; cookies; granola; kombucha; and much more. The market features high-quality roasted coffee beans, teas, honey, home goods, and other tasteful items.

When you come to pick up your Farm Share from Eleanor’s on Fridays, feel free to stay for a minute to enjoy a coffee or tea, or a healthy snack, or a nice lunch. There is a wonderful atmosphere at Eleanor’s—bring a book to read or bring a friend for a nice visit. It is a special place.

Eleanor's:  Jessica Preparing Breakfast

Eleanor’s: Jessica Preparing Breakfast

We are so blessed to partner with wonderful people like Jessica Gignac. You will love stopping at Eleanor’s to pick up your Farm Share!

The Farm Share at Kimmi’s Fine Foods on Tuesdays

Of course, we will continue to deliver the Farm Share through Kimmi’s Fine Foods on Tuesdays. Kimmi has been our partner, supporter, leader, encourager, advisor, and loyal friend for five years now with many more to come.

Kimmi has shown us the profound value of local partnerships based on integrity, trust, and the passionate commitment to serving others. We don’t know what we would do without our Kimmi.

The Farm Share at Downtown Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays

We also look forward to resuming the Farm Share at the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays in March. The GROW Local folks are totally dedicated to bringing local food to Corpus Christi, and they know how to host a beautiful market. We can’t wait to see everyone there!

March Farm Share Openings, Coming Soon!

Please stay tuned for Farm Share openings in March, coming in the next few days. Thank you friends for you partnership with our farm, we are so honored to serve you!

Jessica Gignac, Owner of Eleanor's (photo courtesy thebendmag.com and racheldurrent.com)

Jessica Gignac, Owner of Eleanor’s (photo courtesy thebendmag.com and racheldurrent.com)

Four String Farm Announces New Partnerships!

Justin, Emma, and Tyson Thornton of Spirit Pioneering Farm

Justin, Emma, and Tyson Thornton of Spirit Pioneering Farm

Friends, Kayla and I are thrilled to announce some exciting new partnerships with our farm!

We have created supplier partnerships with Spirit Pioneering Farm of Victoria, Turkey Hollow Farm of Cuero, and Palo Verde Cattle Co of Berclaire.

Beginning in March, our Farm Share will include the produce, pork, beef, chicken, eggs, and other products of these beautiful farms. They grow their plants and animals without chemicals using heritage techniques similar to ours. The produce is chemical-free, the beef is grass-fed, and the pork, chicken, and eggs are raised on pasture.

We can’t wait for you to experience the freshness, flavor, and wholesome goodness of this food. We are honored to offer the harvest of these farms in our Farm Share.

We will tell you more about the farmers and their products in the coming weeks. For now, please know that Tyson Thornton of Spirit Pioneering Farms, Ryan Keller of Turkey Hollow Farm, and Tim Fitch of Palo Verde Cattle Co., are smart and experienced growers. They pioneered their farms themselves. They are full-time farmers with families to support. They know what they are doing.

These partnerships will reduce gaps or low points in our Farm Share supply, as we balance our offerings among several strong farm programs. The diversity and geographic spread of our farms will ensure a more steady and reliable supply of high-quality products.

Finally, Tyson, Ryan, and Tim are great people. We are so thankful to partner with such wonderful people to strengthen our business and bless our family. We will work to make sure the Farm Share also strengthens and empowers their families as well.

We will of course continue to offer our own products in the Farm Share. On top of that, we will continue to supplement with organic produce from Kimmi’s Fine Foods. We are so excited about the expansion of our Farm Share, we hope you are ready for some epic meals in the coming months!

We will announce openings in the March Farm Share in the next few days. Thank you, friends, for your continued partnership with our farm. Our farm family just got a little bigger, and we are so glad to have you in it!

Palo Verde Cattle Co Loading them Up!

Palo Verde Cattle Co Loading Up!

The Beautiful Pastured Hogs at Turkey Hallow Farm

The Beautiful Pastured Hogs at Turkey Hollow Farm

A Tiny Farmer at Spirit Pioneering Farm

A Tiny Farmer at Spirit Pioneering Farm

A Healthy Holiday Video from Kayla

If you want some healthy eating tips for the holidays and a good laugh, see this video from Kayla.  Dietitian how-to videos are not usually this hilarious.

Don’t worry, our baby did not really eat a bag of cat food.  Kayla made that story up ad lib; pretty good comedic timing!  All dance scenes (plus all other scenes) are unrehearsed.  Thank you Hollie Mims for the best facial expressions ever.  Please enjoy!

%d bloggers like this: