Dine Out for Heroes: Farmer Dave Beardi on How Your Support Can Help Change the Life of an Injured Veteran

This month, from November 9-13th, you’re invited to Dine Out for Heroes at a participating restaurant in New York City. In support of The Bob Woodruff Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families thrive long after they return home, restaurants that were moved to participate gave a contribution to the foundation.

To illustrate how every dollar raised can help an injured veteran on the road to recovery and leading a fulfilling life, we chatted with farmer and U.S. Army veteran David Beardi of BRD’s Forever Farm in Dayton, New York. Beardi was injured in his service to our nation. During his recovery, he connected with a fellow vet and farmer named John Post. Beardi says, “He had a small farm and he used to just pick me up and take me there. And I found it was transformative working with the animals. It really changed my life dramatically. If you would have told me that working with animals was therapeutic, previously, I would have been a little skeptical. But it was just transformative.”

Blog D. Beardi tractor 2 copy

That healing work ignited a passion for farming, and soon, Beardi and his family purchased a defunct dairy farm previously owned by an Amish family. It was, in Beardi’s own words, “a massive undertaking.” The farm was in serious disrepair and in need of many improvements, including bringing in plumbing and electricity, all of which Beardi tackled.

But, even the hardest working farmer can use a helping hand – or a tractor – and the Bob Woodruff Foundation stepped up. Through Michael O’Gorman, Executive Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, Beardi was awarded a Bob Woodruff Farming Fellowship. This allowed him to buy a tractor and install much-needed electric fencing for his cattle. “Michael O’Gorman is a terrific human being. I can’t say enough about him. I don’t think we would have achieved the growth we’ve had without this. It was pretty critical for us to get going. And I use that tractor every single day,” he notes.

Today, BRD’s Forever Farm produces naturally and humanely raised meats, including Angus beef and heritage pork, which are highly sought after by western New York locavores. On the 116-acre property, Beardi, his wife Becky, and their children have a herd of 50 cows and 100 pasture-raised pigs that graze on pastures of alfalfa and red and white clover. The animals enjoy the lush property and are treated with the utmost care and respect. “We’ve created a very low-stress environment for the animals, from how they live to how we handle them. We take great pride in how we care for them,” says Beardi. “People come to the farm all the time. It really is a pretty fantastic place.”Continue Reading

Garden-to-Plate: More Restaurants Grow Their Own

beetsCoast to coast, more chefs are adding pitchforks to their batterie de cuisine as they create gardens to feed their culinary imaginations — not to mention their diners. From Dan Barber, the doyen of delicious, just-picked ingredients and owner of New York’s Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, to ambitious and environmentally conscious chefs on the West Coast (and everywhere in between), growing what you serve is growing in popularity.

Next door to New York, New Jersey chef Corey Heyer raises herbs and vegetables for The Bernards Inn, getting local schoolchildren involved in sowing in the spring. In Ohio, restaurant gardens are taking root at Cincinnati eateries, including Lavomatic Cafe & Urban Wine Bar, Chalk Food + Wine, Bistro JeanRo, and Orchids at Palm Court. Across the state, some of Cleveland’s chefs are getting into gardening as well, and you’ll find “homegrown” produce on your plate at Lago.

In California, arguably the birthplace of local, seasonal cuisine, many Los Angeles chefs are getting their hands even dirtier with urban restaurant gardens, including Jonathan McDowell of Blue Velvet, Rustic Canyon‘s Evan Funke, and Scott Garnett of Blue on Blue. Michael Bauer points out San Francisco and Napa restaurants where the line between chef and farmer is also blurred, including The French Laundry, Spruce, Poggio, Ubuntu, and Madrona Manor.

As both a devoted diner and home gardener, I hope this trend proves to be more than a foodie fad and we’ll find more as-local-as-local-gets produce on restaurant menus each year.