Farmhouse Kitchen Tour~ Gregory Family Farms
Note from Angi~I am so excited to show you guys this gorgeous remodeled farmhouse kitchen this week! This is a guest post from my friend Maggy Gregory. Her family farm is the place we get our beef share each year!
Angi has been a customer of our farm for more than five years, and over that time we’ve gotten to know her and her family and I began to follow her blog about two years ago.
My husband and I currently live on a 130 acre farm in Vernon Hill, Virginia, an extremely rural area of Southern Virginia, and have additional acreage that is part of our farming operation just a few miles up the road.
Our family’s eating and cooking methods are the natural result of living on our farm as well as living so far from town. We own and operate Gregory Family Farms, raising pastured beef and lamb, as well as poultry and eggs and our garden vegetables. Currently we purchase our pork from local FFA and 4-H youth, but we anticipate adding forest-ranging pork to our rotation within the next year, once we have built a fence secure enough for hogs.
This year we’ve added a substantial garden comprised primarily of root vegetables – onions, leeks, carrots, garlic, beets, parsnips, and radishes. Because we butcher and eat entire animals direct from our farm, there are a lot of cuts that require roasting and braising. Root vegetables and stock are things we cook with weekly if not daily. When it comes to more traditional spring and summer garden vegetables, we’re fortunate to live in a rural area where fruits and vegetables are plentiful from neighbors and neighboring farmer’s market tables as well, so we put our energy into what we love the most – turning grass into meat. Previously, we had our beef cattle on land owned by my husband’s extended family. As our customer base grew, we needed more space to breed and raise calves.
In January of 2015, our second son was born 10 weeks prematurely and experienced some serious health issues. That experience served as the catalyst for us to realize the importance of our farming and family goals and to focus on realizing those goals sooner rather than later. In the fall of 2015, we had the opportunity to purchase 130 acres that used to belong to my husband’s grandparents, but had not been actively farmed in over 30 years.
We made the leap and took on the renovation of not only the farm, but a 150-year old farmhouse that had been sitting empty and had not been renovated or updated for about 60 years.
Our farmhouse wasn’t entirely unoccupied, however. Various squirrels, mice, snakes, and other forms of “wildlife” had taken up residence in the walls, attic, and underneath the house. We essentially gutted the downstairs of the house, re-wired the electric, and insulated as well as refinished and painted the floors and walls throughout.
However, the focus of our renovation was the kitchen. Because of the plumbing and electrical issues which came together in and around the kitchen, we had to gut the kitchen down to the original 1864 floor and exterior wall. While we have handled the vast majority of this renovation with our own two hands, we knew we needed a professional for the farmhouse kitchen.
This is the original farmhouse kitchen before remodeling.
In building the kitchen back up, we worked to create a design that would handle our food preservation and storage, as well as the daily necessity of cooking for our family. By sheer virtue of our rural lives, 99% of our meals and food are cooked, prepared, and preserved at home. There are quite a few features of our kitchen that have made our daily family life much easier and more pleasant that we’d love to share with you.
First, are our counters and undercounter lights.
We had moved from a house that had about four square feet of open counter space, so having sufficient counter space for food preparation was our first priority. During the summer we’re often processing large quantities of fruits and vegetables and canning. During the winter we have weekend long sessions of making homemade sausage from venison, pork and beef. Right now we have an incubator with a dozen guinea eggs plugged in on our counter, with lots of room to spare. Having lots of nonporous, easy to clean counter space helps us to do these things and to have lots of space for our children to “cook” alongside of us.
We chose quartz, in a marble design, to tie the kitchen to the marble hearths installed on the original downstairs fireplaces.
We also splurged on a double oven with some particular burner features. I love the double oven – especially when we are cooking for others, or cooking parts of meals in advance during a busy time on the farm, we’re able to roast and bake simultaneously. Our oven has a gas stovetop and that stovetop has two ‘regular’ burners, a smaller burner ideal for simmering, a central burner with a removable cast-iron griddle, and a two-circle burner. The small circle provides the tiniest amount of heat, not enough to create a boil, and we use this often for sauces like hollandaise. The large circle is a high heat burner, which is perfect for large soups and stews, but perhaps more importantly for canning – it can bring our largest pot to a rolling boil in just a few minutes.
There are a lot of smaller features about the kitchen that I love, as well. We have a large, deep kitchen sink with a partial separation in between which is great for having food preparation and rinsing in one side while dirty dishes are in the other, but feasible to have a large pan or skillet inside as well.
We included a pantry with pull-out cupboards that have been wonderful for storing our baking needs as well as our canned goods and snacks for our kids.
Probably my favorite lifestyle feature of our farmhouse kitchen is our kitchen island. Right now there are four people in our family and it is set up so that our kids can help to cook or can work on crafts and projects while we are cooking, and we can all look at each other and talk with each other, rather than have them in a separate room playing while we prepare meals. Our children each have special youth chef knives that cut fruits and vegetables, but not people and that has allowed our children to have a legitimate role in food preparation during meals on a near daily basis. I love having children who are not yet old enough for school, but know how to chop an onion, wash a carrot, and debone a chicken – and at least for now, are excited to do so. In our island we also have a large shelf that is supposed to house a microwave , but we use it to house our cookbooks and also as a quick place to store even fairly large items when we need to clear a counter.
Certainly, our farmhouse renovation continues to be a work in progress, but in focusing on the kitchen we’ve focused on our quality of life as well as pure function. During the renovation, we replaced two mismatched smaller windows with one large picture window over the kitchen sink. Because we do have a working farm, I wanted to be able to look out of the kitchen window and really enjoy the view of what we have worked – and continue working – so hard to achieve. Also, because our farmhouse does not currently have central heat or air, having large screened windows in the kitchen plays a large role in the “temperature control” of the house! Two of our livestock pastures, as well as the end of the garden, are on this side of our farm. I am able to sit down in the early morning, alone with my coffee, and watch the sun rise over the fields while our sheep and cows graze and our lambs and calves play.
In a world that is constantly saying more, faster, now, my farmhouse kitchen is more than a utilitarian collection.
It is the heart of our home, a place that, as I sit even now looking out over our fields and animals, provides a space where, in the words of Wendell Berry, “I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief… for a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
*The photograph of the ‘original’ kitchen was taken by Lisa Whitmore of Shomore Photography, based out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The photographs of the ‘new’ kitchen were taken by our residential contractor, Kate Farmer of Blair Homes, LLC. I cannot recommend her work, ideas, suggestions, and feedback highly enough – this kitchen is an infinitely better place because of her input and experience than it would have been had we tackled this project alone.