Thirty miles east of the Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Inman Park is Wrecking Barn Farm, the creation of Stevenson Rosslow and Bob Sandage. The Loganville property was once Dillwood Farms. Now, as Wrecking Barn Farm, produces organically grown produce for its sister bar-restaurant the Wrecking Bar, as well as a community-supported agriculture program (CSA), other restaurants and for its booth at the Saturday morning Freedom Farmers Market.
Farm manager Rachel Hennon has been there since the farm’s purchase in 2015, making sure the farm follows organic certification standards. And right now, she’s spending a lot of her time out in the fields picking blueberries.
“The blueberries on the farm are probably 35 to 40 years old at this point, and we have no idea how many varieties we have,” Hennon said. “I do know we have four 300-foot rows and about 250 plants total. They’re so big that it’s hard to call them blueberry ‘bushes.’”
The blueberries are harvested by hand with each picker wearing a homemade contraption of a plastic container lined with a produce bag and turned into a “necklace” with a piece of twine that secures the container around the picker’s neck.
“That way we can use both our hands to pick the blueberries and drop them in the bucket,” said Hennon. “You reach up and pull the branches to you to get to the berries, but the ones on the tip top are for the birds. We call that ‘nature’s tax.’ Critters get a small percentage of very crop we grow. It’s only fair.
“When the blueberries really kick in, we get folks from the Wrecking Bar to come out and help as well as our two full-time people and three more part-time people.”
Last year, 180 pounds of blueberries went to the brewpub to be turned into “Blueberry Berliner.” Much of the rest of the harvest went into dishes at the Wrecking Bar and to Jarrett Stieber of Eat Me Speak Me.
“But this year, the bushes are way more loaded,” Hennon said. “We pruned them heavily this winter and I think they liked that. Our first priority for the blueberries is to the people in our CSA. Then the Wrecking Bar gets whatever they want. The rest are for the farmers market and for other restaurants.”
The CSA has pickups in Atlanta and in Loganville and includes eggs every other week. More information about signing up is at the farm’s website, wreckingbarnfarm.com. On Tuesday evenings when she makes the CSA delivery to the Wrecking Bar, Hennon also sets up a little mini-market with extra produce she’s brought along just to sell between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Hennon says blueberries are extra sweet when you pick them yourself. “You pick and you eat as you pick. We’ll be harvesting for about four weeks. And we will eat our fill.”
But eating her fill of blueberries is not the only reason to enjoy the work of picking the berries. “Since it’s so time-consuming and such a methodical task, it’s really relaxing. It makes a really good space to zone out and get some good daydreaming in and once you’re done with your daydreams, it’s good for podcasts you want to catch up on. I listened to the whole ‘Serial’ series last year picking blueberries.
“That and weeding are really good tasks for getting into some really deep and personal conversations with the people picking next to you. That’s what I connect with blueberries.”
And for the blueberries that make it into the farm house? Most of them go into smoothies. “We use kale, radish greens, whatever is on hand and then put in almond milk and enough blueberries to make it taste really good.”
Wrecking Bar Farm Blueberry Galette with Crème Fraiche
A galette is a free-form, unfussy form of pie. Jeremiah Weston, sous chef at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, created this recipe to use the “good, fat Wrecking Barn blueberries” they received last year. There’s little sugar in the filling, so you’ll want to use the ripest, sweetest berries you can find. (Or increase the amount of sugar you use.) The dough with its two eggs goes together quickly and rolls out perfectly.
His recipe also includes instructions for making your own crème fraiche. At the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, pretty much everything that can be housemade, is housemade.
For the creme fraiche:
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons good whole fat buttermilk
For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
4 eggs, divided
7 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
1 pound blueberries (3 cups)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar-in-the-raw or turbinado sugar
To make the creme fraiche: in a medium glass bowl, combine the cream and buttermilk, stirring just enough to combine. Cover and leave at room temperature. Check in 24 hours to see if mixture has thickened. Move creme fraiche to a refrigerator container and store, covered, until ready to use.
To make dough: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter in batches and pulse to combine. Add 2 eggs and pulse to combine. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until clumps of dough start to form. Remove the dough from the processor and knead together. Mold into a flattened disk and wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove dough from refrigerator and cut disk in half. Roll each half into a circle 1/4-inch thick. Arrange each circle on a baking sheet and set aside.
To make filling: In a large bowl, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt. Divide mixture between dough circles, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border all around the outside. Fold up 1 inch of the outer edge of the dough up over the filling, overlapping and folding as you work your way around. In a small bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs and brush the egg mixture on the dough on the edge of the tart. Sprinkle with sugar-in-the-raw. Bake galettes 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm, topped with creme fraiche. Makes: 2 galettes serving 6 each
Per serving, Blueberry Galette only: 341 calories (percent of calories from fat, 46), 6 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 112 milligrams cholesterol, 63 milligrams sodium.
Per 1-tablespoon serving, Creme Fraiche only: 60 calories (percent of calories from fat, 93), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, no fiber, 6 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 20 milligrams cholesterol, 8 milligrams sodium.