Outstanding in the Field: Four Season Farm
Text + photographs by Jonathan Levitt
The table twists and turns at the edge of a meadow, shaded by oaks, within sight of the orchards and artichoke patch—not far from the fog of Penobscot Bay.
Sometimes the table is set in Oregon, in Tuscany, or in New York City. Sometimes it is set on top of mountain, in a sea cave, or on a sandy beach. Sometimes it is in a greenhouse or in a barn, sometimes on an urban rooftop. Tonight, it is set at Four Season Farm in Harborside.
The farm is the homestead of Eliot Coleman, high priest of organic farming, and Barbara Damrosch, a gardening guru.
The guests arrive from close and from far away.
They stand in the sun drinking beer and wine.
Jim Denevan, or one of his assistants, sets the table for the meal. The meal is ephemeral performance art, because Denevan is an artist first and a cook second. In the winter he makes freehand geometric drawings in the sand. With a long stick he draws and draws, sometimes seven hours at a time, sometimes 30 miles at a time, and what he makes is so impossibly precise, that it looks to have been made by alien spaceships. Denevan is tall and bald and Marlboro Man handsome. He is called “The King” by his local surfing community in Santa Cruz.
The table is always set someplace beautiful, because the ideaof Outstanding in the Field is to be a renegade restaurant without walls and to connect diners with the places where their food comes from.
Tonight’s meal is being cooked by chef Sam Hayward and his crew from Fore Street Restaurant. The ingredients came from Maine farmers and fishermen.
It’s evening. The light is golden. The food is brought to the table in courses. Lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, lamb raised on saltwater islands.
The sun goes down. The guests scatter. The night is cool. Denevan and his crew pack their ancient GMC bus and head for Cape Cod.