My friends Nicole Delcogliano and Gaelan Corozine, along with their daughters have a beautiful farm called Green Toe Ground, located on the South Toe River. As a family and with help from Summer interns they run a small Biodynamic farm supplying local folks and restaurants with fresh, delicious vegetables. They’ve been living, playing and working on their farm for over a decade.
Gaelan was drawn to farming at a young age. When he was a teenager, Gaelan traveled to Italy to visit family and friends. While he was there, he fell in love with the land and the practice of working it. He apprenticed with a farmer and began to craft himself into a person of the land. After he returned to the US, Gaelan’s interest in farming continued to blossom and grow into a way of life. He worked with a local guy that had a CSA, which stands for community sponsored agriculture. The premise behind a CSA is that each member pays for a part of the production cost and in return receives a share of the vegetables. In this way, the farmer and the members are partners sharing equally in abundance (when the crops are good) and in scarcity (when a crop doesn’t make it). Gaelan’s next big move was to the Arthur Morgan School, in Celo, NC. Introduced to the school by a friend, Gaelan took a job as the gardener. By this time Gaelan had met Nicole and they came together from upstate New York to relocate and try out life in the South Toe Valley. It wasn’t long before they were hooked and began to see their future here in a beautiful swath of sandy loam located next to the South Toe River.
After partnering with Robert Tate for a few years, Gaelan and Nicole bought out his share in Green Toe Ground and began to transform it into their dream of a biodynamic farm. With a lot of hard work and dedication from their family, Green Toe Ground is a thriving, brightly colored, nutrient rich farm in full swing. So far this year Green Toe Ground has produced enough vegetables to feed all of it’s members as well as extra that has been bought up by restaurants in Asheville, NC and surrounding area proudly serving locally grown foods. Just the other day one of the interns told me they harvested 500 pounds of tomatoes. Talk about abundance.
Not only do Gaelan and Nicole take pleasure in growing vegetables they also enjoy cooking up the vegetables they nurture into maturity. This includes wonderful Italian feasts which are presented to farm dinner guests under a canopy of stars and twinkle lights by the bank of the South Toe River. The Green Toe Ground farm dinner is an event I have had the good fortune to participate in multiple times. Each time I was impressed with the dedication of my friends to make sure all of their guests had a night to remember.
Over the past two years and with the opening of the Knife & Fork restaurant in Spruce Pine, NC, Gaelan has had the opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen. During the first year of the Knife & Fork, Gaelan worked as the Sous Chef for Nate Allen (owner and chef at the Knife & Fork). Gaelan and Nate worked closely crafting delicious meals made from locally grown vegetables and meats. Gaelan, being a farmer as well as cook contributed to the restaurant in a very direct way. Not only did he give his time and energy to the plants while they were growing in the field, he also gave his time and energy to transform them into wonderful meals to be eaten and enjoyed. So this year when Nate created his team for the WNC Chef Challenge, it was no surprise Gaelan was asked to join the team. With the addition of Brenda Poole, who is the Knife & Fork pastry chef, the team was set for competition.
Fifteen other teams and three feasts later, the team from the Knife & Fork is headed to the finals. They will be going up against the Bistro at Biltmore for the title of Asheville’s top chefs.
I don’t know what the outcome will be, and by that I mean who the judges will choose as the winner. I do know that the meal awaiting the judges will be delectable. I had the opportunity to attend the third round dinner (Knife & Fork vs Posano). I was utterly impressed and pleased by the way the K&F team incorporated the secret ingredient: peaches. It will be interesting to see what the final secret ingredient will be.
While I won’t be able to attend the challenge, I will be waiting to hear the results.
For some of us, there is a deep love affair with food that is a part of our lives. I believe Gaelan is one of these people. He gives of himself utterly to provide clean, pure, fresh food that others can eat. He loves the land where the food grows and appreciates the opportunity to share that love with others. In true farm to table style Gaelan is the complete package of farmer chef.