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Covey Rise Farms brings the field to the tables of more than 50 New Orleans restaurants
November 02, 2012
Sandy Sharp’s pickup truck bounced along the dirt road near the vegetable plots at Covey Rise Farms. It was a Saturday afternoon, just after 5 p.m., in late August, the weekend before Hurricane Isaac, and the rolling acreage was damp from a recent rain.
As he piloted around the farm’s perimeter, twin tire marks formed in a wake of wet earth. Behind the wheel, windows rolled up, air conditioner cranking, Sharp swung the vehicle around, giving me the drive-by tour of the vegetables and herbs.
Through the frame of the passenger window, I could see baby lettuces poking out from a long curving row. Forest green arugula. Curly topped red oak. Lacy fronds of mizuna.
After the rain, the broiler-like heat of the afternoon began to slowly abate, like a dialed down oven temp, and rain drops speckled the leaves of the lettuces, typically a cooler weather crop in South Louisiana.
The lettuces drew me up to Covey Rise. The lettuces and the corn and the purple-hull peas and the small, round heirloom eggplants.
If you’ve dined in an upscale New Orleans restaurant recently, you’ve eaten something grown at Covey Rise, a 400-acre piece of property about 30 miles northwest of Lake Pontchartrain’s north shore. The land is home to a working farm, pen-raised bird-shooting preserve, corporate retreat facility and a cypress lodge set among tall pines in a part of the state where the red-dirt terrain begins to swell into low, rounded hills.
In the past week, Restaurant August featured a salad of roasted Covey Rise baby carrots. Le Foret restaurant was serving Peking duck with sweet potatoes, haricot vert and preserved cherries, all from the farm. At Red Fish Grill, one of the specials was a whole speckled trout with Covey Rise fingerling potatoes, squash, cherry tomatoes and a roasted tomato sauce.
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