Soil and Society Meet at Heirloom Auction
Sothebyâ€™s, the refined auction gallery in New York City, dug into the dirt last night with The Art of Farming. The first-ever auction featuring heirloom vegetables and more, lots included a CSA (community-sponsored agriculture) share, a flock of exquisitely feathered Plymouth Rock chickens (attending via video), and delivery of four potted Newtown Pippin apple trees to anywhere within the city. Over $200,000 was raised from this first-ever sale of produce, livestock, gardening advice and other agriculture-related experiences. Hanging in the audience was delicious.
The decorous saleroom, rimmed by tables displaying breathtakingly beautiful vegetables in still-lifes reminiscent of Dutch 16th C. and French genre painting, held a standing-room audience of the urban and urbaneâ€”well-toned, Manolo- and tasseled loafer-shod, monied, and vital to charitable events, alongside Greenmarket farmers and purveyors who service New Yorkâ€™s chefs. Dr. Brent Ridge, one of the Fabulous Beekman Boys from The Discovery Channel Planet Green reality show and an organizer of the auction, sat in front of me. His velvet-edged, slim, designer-styled black blazer and shiny rubber Wellies encapsulated the eveningâ€™s delicious juxtaposition of serious purpose and media-glam.
The money raised benefits The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm and the GrowNYC New Farmers Development Project.Â The Sylvia Center inspires children to eat well through hands-on experiences at the farm and in New York City. GrowNYC helps immigrants with agricultural experience become local farmers.
After enjoying fabulous, fresh dragonâ€™s tongue beans that I bought earlier in the day at the pop-up market set up outside Sothebyâ€™s the day of the auction, I bid on a mouth-watering hamper of produce from Rodaleâ€™s model organic garden. It was quickly exceeded. (Full disclosure: Rodale publishes my cookbooks and my editor was at the event.) Attending the $1000.00 a ticket heirloom-heavy dinner following the auction was also beyond my means. But I canâ€™t wait to check out its chefsâ€™ work at their restaurants. Jeff Gimmelâ€™s Swoon Kitchenbar, offers a $24.95 menu on Meatless Mondays,Â and Jean-Georges Vongerichtenâ€™s ABC Kitchen is by the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan.
The auction was a kick-off to Eat Drink Local Week,Â a feast of events sponsored by Edible New York magazine from Sept. 26 â€“ Oct. 6.