Manakintowne Specialty Growers in Powhatan, VA and Sorrel Soup with Toasted Croutons
Great meals begin with beautiful fresh ingredients, so when three excellent chefs, namely Sean Brock, Walter Bundy and Dean Maupin, told me about a farmer that grows truly exceptional produce, you can bet we went On the Road to meet them and see their farm!
Manakintowne Specialty Growers, in Powhatan, Virginia, is located about a half hour outside of Richmond. We went to visit them during our stay at The Jefferson Hotel in May. Jo and Rob Pendergraph started their farming business back in 1985, primarily growing herbs. Now, after 26 years of farming, they own 21 acres and grow more incredible produce, vegetables, herbs and specialty products than you could ever imagine!
Their products are not certifiably organic, primarily because they have not gone through the process to become organic. However, they use all sustainable farming methods and no pesticides. We went through the property nibbling on everything in site, so I can attest to that! 🙂
Jo told us that it was the inspiration of Chef Marcel Desaulniers many years ago that made her take her farming seriously. She brought some ingredients to him that she had foraged from their original farm. He was not as excited as she was about these ingredients, so she went back home and decided they could do much better by growing their own specialty produce. And they certainly have.
They now sell primarily to local chefs, although they do go to a couple of Farmers’ Markets each week (listed below). They will deliver as many as 100 restaurant orders each week. They do not grow large amounts of any one thing, but rather offer lots of different types of specialty ingredients to chefs.