Ian Farmer brought me down to the lower field of the expansive farm which he manages, loves and lives on with his wife Ruth and young son Eliot. It was early November, the sun was starting to set and the cold air started to blow over the hill from the coast. The various experimental herbs and flowers were crackling and frail; well past their season now. A few of the last surviving fennel varieties wafted a scent of faint licorice as I touched the fronds. The vast number of oregano and marjoram plants emitted the aromatic memory of my first time ever being in an Italian pizza kitchen. These smells were reminiscent of first love and imbedded culinary experiences.
The farm, Vintage Organics, owned by Lisen Bonnier is located less than 20 miles from Luna Red and on a picturesque hillside of Los Osos Valley Road. As I drove up earlier that afternoon, several dozen lamb came up to the fence to greet me as a newcomer to their home. The wild turkeys were attempting to take flight into their protective eucalyptus tree for the night and an overgrown pomegranate tree was hiding one of the many small houses on the property. With over 200 acres of animals, both wild and domesticated, fruit trees, live oaks and an outdoor lab of flowers and herbs, Vintage Organics is a perfect example of central coast farming at its best. From a sustainable solar power program to humane animal husbandry and butchery, Ian Farmer is the true farmer.
My relationship with Ian began when I heard of a local lamb farmer selling to restaurants and as part of Luna Red’s procuring ethics, this was a very exciting discovery. After three short years, our relationship has blossomed into more than just lamb. Herbs, butternut squash, pears, acorns from live oaks and the pigs that feed on them have become staples in the kitchen. Through the years we’ve had many discussions of butchery, culinary philosophy as well as built a personal connection from our like-minded farm-to-fork beliefs. By cooking to connect, I have created a friendship with Ian and his wife Ruth. As we reap and sow our relationship, the partnership will blossom and bring forward a bountiful friendship of a farmer and chef.
— Chef Shaun Behrens
To learn more about Vintage Organics you can visit their Facebook page. To contact Ian Farmer email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 805-801-1215.