Fall Festivities at the Farm
The eerily ominous New Haven clouds and ever-sharper wind gusts were no match for my enthusiasm, which propelled me up the Hill. Even my Texas-blooded aversion to New England chilliness couldn’t slow me down. For today was a special day: the YSFP’s annual Harvest Festival, a day to celebrate all of the crisp weather and crisp produce a New England fall brings.
Today, my skills as an Events Intern (read: maker of delectable brick-oven farm pizza) needed to shine. While I was certain that we interns possessed the skills to make a labor-intensive farm festival look like a simple walk in the park (or a stroll through the plant beds, as it were), the public need not be fooled by our cool, collected demeanor. But perhaps they could not ever be so duped. One look at our pizza makers’ flour-dusted jeans, ash-streaked forearms, if not faces, and beet-stained “Murderer hands”—as Zan likes to call them—and anyone could see through our benevolent deceit.
As Jasmine and I got down to stretching and forming pizza-dough, Jacque got the fire started in the brick oven. The smell of wood roasting in a fire (what I like to call “The Christmas Smell”) filled the air and my mind began to wander, conjuring up romantic images of an activity we really didn’t get the chance to do much during the Texas “winters” of my childhood, when a drop in temperature to, say, 50 to 60 degrees on Christmas Eve gave us enough excuse to break out the Yule logs. The addition of birch bark made the fire just as pleasant to hear as it was to smell. We chatted casually about the beauty of the bright oranges and vibrant yellows that had begun to break forth from New Haven’s trees, especially when set against the gray that was the typical fall New Haven sky.
Ah, fall. Despite what your lack of heat did to the elasticity and rising power of my pizza dough, I will inevitably find myself waxing poetic about your finer qualities. A smile spread across my face as I realized that this Year’s Harvest Festival was providing me the perfect opportunity to do so.
In our pizza making world, fall had brought about an exciting array of new ingredients—Pesto prepared earlier in the summer and saved for such sparser produce seasons, Asian eggplants, leeks, green tomatoes, candy-stripe beets, and best of all, an abundance of butternut squash, which we sprinkled with olive-oil and coarse salt before roasting to coax out its autumnal sweetness. In addition to making pizzas, we also roasted whole cashews, hazelnuts, and almonds (to which Josh ingeniously added olive oil and rosemary) and set up a makeshift stove to heat fresh apple cider.
The crowds began to arrive around 3pm, and after 5 hours of pizza prep, we were ready to celebrate. We baked a few potato-leek-ricotta and tomato-parmesan-pesto pies, and continued to invite our visitors to take a stab at their own delicious fall creations. The apple cider warmed hands while the pizza warmed bellies, and the music of Plume Giant and other Yale student acoustic bands filled the air with a certain lightness and gaiety. The Harvest Festival successfully brought the Yale Community and many volunteers from the New Haven community together in celebration of the flavors of fall. Feelings of satiety were all around—not just of appetite, but also of spirit. -Jordan Zimmerman, ’12