On my first day working at Cafe Gratitude, I met the owners Matthew and Terces Engelhart. Most of the food we served came directly from their Be Love Farm in Vacaville. I loved telling customers the owners of the restaurant hand picked our tomatoes and corn- a rarity for business owners to be that connected to their work.
From April to November, Matthew and Terces generously open their doors and hearts to strangers, friends and family on their awe-inspiring 21 acres. This summer, a few of us from Poppy and Seed chose to attend an organic plant-based farm dinner at Be Love Farm–the farm I proudly told so many people about, but never actually stepped foot on. It was full circle visiting the farm- these people and their vision, whether or not they know it, helped me grow so much during my early twenties. They provided me with nourishing organic food and supported me in being the absolute best version of myself possible. The core practice of ‘being love’ is what created Be Love Farm.
As the sun set, Matthew lead our group of 30 guests on an hour long tour, sharing with us the magic of Be Love Farm. The farm itself is not typical, you’ll find a walnut tree next to a rose bush or a chicken roaming the tomato vines. It’s chaotic beauty-nothing is perfect, and this is what makes the Engleharts and their farm authentically real.
Matthew, whose uniform always seems to be a hat and suspenders, explained that Be Love Farm is beyond organic; it’s an experiment in regenerative agriculture. This restores the health and productivity of the soil by rotating crops, using ground cover and reducing synthetic chemical usage–among other things. The Engelharts believe healthy soil produces nutrient rich foods which develop healthy humans. We need more of this mentality in the world.
While we were touring the farm, Terces prepared dinner in their Spanish style kitchen where lately she has been aging raw cheese with milk straight from their cows and goats. Without hesitation we helped ourselves to some raw homemade cheese from the cheese plate— so delicious! The farm also barrels it’s own organic wine, the sole ingredient being the grapes they grow. It’s a bit strong, but delicious if you like a rich, bold red.
Before dinner the Engelharts asked everyone to join hands in a circle to share where we are from and what we are grateful for. A tradition I vividly remember practicing on my first day training, I was grateful to finally visit Be Love Farm and spend time with the Engleharts.
Over dinner we shared stories and food while learning more about each other. Everyone enjoyed a Mediterranean-inspired salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and sunflower sprouts with za’atar dressing. Grilled zucchini and the purest polenta made from over two hundred year old heirloom corn seeds– the main course which we all devoured. Last but not least, a peach cobbler made with ice cream fresh from the raw cow’s milk- our tastebuds sang with joy.
These communal dinners create a sacred space for people from all walks of life to sit together, connect and discover the importance of farming. The Engleharts continue to enlighten, educate and inspire me through the conscious loving life they live. We left that evening with bellies full of their farm fresh food and gratitude in our hearts.