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
Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Local

African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.