“Farm-to-Table” is more than a slogan at Jones Family Farms in Shelton, Connecticut. One of the rare cooking schools actually located on a farm, the classes in the Harvest Kitchen at this family owned farm in Fairfield County are able to use many ingredients grown on site.
Seasonal foods are the focus for many sessions, showing how fresh ingredients make for healthier and more delicious meals. The classes follow many creative themes, from ethnic cuisines like Japanese and Mediterranean to “Parties Inspired by Books,” with original menus inspired by volumes like The Great Gatsby or Pride and Prejudice. The Essential Eating series encourages home cooking from scratch and building a nutrition-rich home pantry.
Three-hour classes are held most Saturdays from 12 to 3 p.m. from spring through the holidays. Most are limited to 12 participants. The sessions are relaxed and informal, a mix of demonstrations and hands-on activities suitable for beginners, as well as experienced cooks. They conclude with everyone gathering around the big kitchen table to enjoy the meal they have prepared, along with a glass of the farm’s own Jones wine. Students take home their aprons and copies of nourishing recipes.
In May, the Parties Inspired by Books Series will feature The Great Gatsby on May 2, Pride and Prejudice on May 9, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on May 16.
See the web site, jonesfamilyfarms.com, to register. Early reservations are strongly advised as classes fill up fast.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
Cooking is only one of the reasons to visit the 400-acre farm where the Jones family has been working the land for over150 years. Successive generations have left their impact on the original dairy farm. Philip Jones, the fourth generation, planted evergreen seedlings as part of a 4-H forestry project in the 1930s. Some of these originals, now 100-feet tall, tower over what has grown into 200 acres of Christmas trees. Guests are invited to hike the fields to harvest their own or to pick a fresh-cut tree in the Homestead Barnyard, a treasured tradition for many area families.
In the 1960s, Philip’s son Terry, the fifth generation, added the fields of strawberries and blueberries that are favorites for pick-your-own fans each year. Terry’s wife Jean, a licensed nutritionist, originated the cooking classes in 2009. Their son, Jamie began the Jones Winery in 2004. In 2013 Connecticut Magazine named it “Best Connecticut Vineyard.” From summer berries to fall grapes and pumpkins to trees ready for trimming, Jones Family Farms is a delightful outing year round.
For more information about the farm and the area and a free copy of Unwind, a full-color, 152-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in the Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County in Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at www.visitwesternct.com.