A kitchen garden takes on new meaning when it’s part of EECO farm, an organic community farm in East Hampton. Especially when it’s kept by chef/author/endurance athlete and nutrition specialist Adam Kelinson, who is in his second year tending two and a half 20-square-foot plots. Not only to feed himself and his yoga- instructor girlfriend, Jessica Bellofatto, but to also cook meals for clients who come to the East End to participate in “performance retreats” weekend- or daylong seminars that not only get people moving their bodies, but incorporate a mindful integration of food into their lives. Kelinson also uses the gardens, and a green- house at home, in his work as a private chef. His recipes and nu- tritional advice are detailed in his recent book The Athlete’s Plate: Real Food for High Performance.
The garden, he says, is part of an ongoing education of his approach to cooking and eating—as each year is different, and each year he wants to try something new. “Last year I had so many pep- pers. This year they’re sparse. Last year, the kale wasn’t so good; this year the kale is great,” he says, pointing to dark-green, silver shiny leaves nearly three feet high. Next to the kale are raspberry bushes supported by umbrella skeletons he finds on the beach at the end of the season in Amagansett, where he rents a home and an extensive garden is impractical.
At EECO, aside from all the gardeners’ pledge to work organically, Kelinson has the advantage of a sizeable deer fence and all the advice a gardening community has to give. The closeness can have its downside, as once one set of tomato plants gets a disease, such as the late blight crossing the East End this year, all are susceptible.
To, hopefully, prevent such disasters, Kelinson is using biodynamic soil amendments, crop rotations and heirloom seeds.
Once the summer harvest—tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, peas, Japanese cucumbers, lettuce—is taken in, Kelinson will plant the winter crops like cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, from which he makes kimchi and pickles that he can eat over the dormant months.
In the meantime, he’s looking forward to his first harvest of quinoa, which in July looks like a wildflower about to bloom. “I’ve never grown a grain before,” he says. “We’ll see what happens.”