Allison lives out in Dexter and is a major part of the day to day visioning and production management out at Cornman Farms.
1) Soooooo, I know you are next door neighbors and friends with Kelly, but when did your involvement in the farm increase?
As long as we’ve been friends, I’ve wanted to participate on any level that she ever needed help. I’ve been a farm junkie for a long time. So to find a good friend who had all of it in her backyard, it was a once in a lifetime synergy. I think everything really accelerated last fall when she and I purchased one milk goat together (named Mona Lisa for her teeth that show when she smiles). We rescued her from the Manchester slaughter yards, where other customers were there buying goats to roast for a middle eastern holiday. A few weeks later Kelly got serious about a dream she’d had for a while to grow her goat herd – to sell milk to the creamery. Then we discovered that Mona Lisa was pregnant. And it’s all gotten crazy from there.
2) Do you also take care of the bees?
I have bees on my property a couple miles away, in Dexter. Kelly’s neighbor, Carl Thompson, helped me get that all started 3 years ago. This year, I moved half of my bees over to Cornman. So Carl is actually the one who tends to the bees at Cornman, but within this last year it’s been more of a collaborative effort. Together we harvested the Cornman honey earlier this summer.
3) What is your vision for canning out there? I saw some of the little labeled jars when I was out there last and I was so excited.
Canning is a huge part of our vision — seeking to preserve the awesome-ness of Cornman for the months when it’s not fresh. We’re limited by two certification needs. Someone has to be certified by the FDA at the **Better Process Control School. I’m attending this at MSU in mid-October, so that we can retail things that we can. The other hurdle is the facility. In our vision of expanding the barn and addition a kitchen, we’re making sure to design it with preserving in mind. We’ve been starting to test recipes of some things that we think we might want in our repertoire.
4) What are you doing on a daily basis these days? overseeing buildout? Helping Kelly with animals? Helping Don with repairs/contracts?
Anything that Alex needs done: weeding, cleaning, (yes with Don) planning meetings, writing vision, meeting with accountants, architect, going to zoning/planning commission meetings, etc.
5) Do you know when the dairy parlor fix up is supposed to start?
This is yet to be determined. The 40 or so goats we have now need proper shelter before it snows. Our goal is to repair one of the standing barns behind the house, so that they can winter there. This won’t be their final location. The best guess for dairy parlor setup is spring 2014.
6) I’ve heard Mark talk about the idea of having chef education out there. Know anything about that?
Education for chefs? – I haven’t heard any talk about that specifically. But general cooking education for all. Absolutely, yes. A main part of our vision is to impart all of our knowledge to anyone in the community who is interested. – so we will have a Cornman school – classes for kids and adults, classes on cooking (preserving, bbq, technique, etc), gardening (seed saving etc), animal husbandry (goats, milking, etc) classes held by other ZCOB
7)I know you are quite a chef in your own right. Are you going to be on the onsite crew preparing meals for events out there?
Yes I anticipate that in some format I will be. We are still working on dividing responsibilities. Even when we have figured it out to some extent, I’m sure that it will fluctuate depending on the needs of the hour, day, month, season.
8) What needs to be done to that kitchen to get it ready for big events?
We intend to renovate the kitchen in the white house to a modernized super high end residential kitchen with the intention of running cooking classes.
**Since this interview, Allison has become certified at the Better Process Control School
Check out Allison’s blog at http://lastbite.blogspot.com/