Living off the Land: A look at chef Frank McClelland’s prime acreage

HOMB_Frank3_0828

Photos by Eric Luciano

By now, you don’t have to be a foodie to know the phrase “farm-to-table.” But when chef Frank McClelland says it, it’s especially meaningful. For him, and for guests at an ongoing dinner series at his home in Essex, farm-to-table is a matter of mere feet.
McClelland lives on his Apple Street Farm where, since 2009, this top toque from L’Espalier (Boston’s only Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant) grows and gathers the fresh organic produce that graces his nightly menus. More than a dozen other restaurants around Boston and the North Shore also source their ingredients from Apple Street, and its ample haul supports rapidly expanding produce and poultry CSA programs: bringing locally raised greens and pasture-raised chicken to those who want to eat well at home, too.

But for McClelland, the farm is home. “I just love the feel of it. It reminds me of when I was a boy,” says McClelland, who grew up on his grandparents’ working farm in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. (He still uses some of their antique kitchen tools.) That experience largely informed his future career and the farm-to-table philosophy he adopted long before it was a buzzword. “It started my journey in motion of wanting to grow and cook things,” he says. “And it really sets your sensibilities when at a very young age you understand where your food comes from.”
We talked to McClelland to learn more about the design ingredients that make his piece of rural real estate so unique, to better cultivate our own rustic home aesthetic.

A grand plot
Apple Street Farm sits on a covetable 14 acres in Essex, a former equestrian farm, and is anchored by a gorgeous, quintessential New England farmhouse built in the 1600s: Think gleaming but original wide-plank floors, barn wood walls and a rustic brick hearth where McClelland has been known to fire up pizzas. From its soapstone counters to clear glass-front cabinetry, the country kitchen brings natural elements of the outside, inside: just like McClelland likes it.

HOMB_Frank5_0828

A hardworking team
Apple Street Farm is run by McClelland, a farm manager, and three to four workers; they also manage another dozen or so acres of farmland between “satellite fields” offered by other landowners within a mile’s radius. Even in an age of tractors and expert farm equipment, it’s all “hugely labor intensive,” says McClelland. Especially when you’re dedicated to running an organic (read: herbicide-free) farm. That route results in larger crop loss and extra work. (“You have to get in there with your hands to manage weeds.”) But it also yields healthier and, thanks to his exceptionally nitrogen-rich soil, better-tasting food.

A big harvest
Apple Street Farm grows dozens of produce varieties, from diverse fruits and veggies to herbs and edible flowers. And the whole farm staff is trained in animal husbandry, raising chickens, turkeys and even honeybees. Beekeeping is especially important, he says, because nature’s best pollinators increase his yields by as much as 70 percent. Next up for McClelland is raw milk. He says within weeks Apple Street should join just two-dozen other farms in Massachusetts that are licensed to sell strictly regulated raw milk, which organic foodies revere for natural health benefits.

Want to visit the farm? The chef hosts an annual Farm Dinner Series where you can tour the grounds, sip cocktails and eat decadent plates prepared by McClelland. The next one runs Sept. 20-21 with a “Firepit Fiesta” and the season culminates with his “Essex Harvest Feast” Oct. 18-19. Visit applestreetfarm.com for info and tickets.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Local

NYS state forces thrift shops comply with ban…

Nine New York City thrift shops were reprimanded by the state attorney general for selling children's clothes with drawstrings around the neck and waist.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 11,…

Caleb's not a ghost. Spencer might still be an attempted murderer. And Hanna's going to die next week. In other words, we actually got some…

Movies

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

Marvel Entertainment's Stan Lee is adding outposts to his creative empire to interest a new generation of children in super heroes of all shapes and sizes.

Television

Mira Sorvino explores immortality on 'Intruders'

Mira Sorvino's new show "Intruders" centers around a secret society that achieves immortality by taking over the bodies of other people.

Television

5 things you need to know about new…

"Doctor Who" returns Saturday with a new star, Peter Capaldi. Here's some things to know about him (mainly his turn as sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker).

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

NFL

David Wilson returns to triple jump, sets sights…

Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Parenting

How everyday moments can inspire kids' creativity

"The Artist's Way for Parents" author Julia Cameron gives advice on how parents and children can be creative together.

Tech

How to stay safe online

Stop worrying about keeping your online passwords safe, and start worrying about keeping your username a secret. Actually, worry about both. According to Shaun Murphy…

Tech

OpenTable now lets you pay your bill via…

The restaurant app OpenTable added the ability to pay your bill (and tip) with your phone, thus cutting back on a few dining annoyances.