Farm-Fresh Philosopher: Sustainable Farming

Ann Harvey Yonkers is creating culinary change by starting farmer’s markets and supporting sustainable farming.

| July/August 2005

  • Ann created this still life with organically grown Magness pears in a natural cork bowl.
  • After garlic bulbs are cured (to dry the papery skins), they’re cleaned and trimmed of tops and roots before storing.
  • Michaela, Ann’s daughter, helps feed the chickens and gather eggs.
  • As Ann brings brunch to the table, family dog Mia thinks it smells pretty good.
  • EasterEggers, Barred Rock, Black Sex Link, Red Sex Link, and Wyandotte aren’t the names of rock ‘n’ roll bands—they’re the varieties of chickens that provide Pot Pie’s pastel-hued eggs.
  • Chef, farmer, and environmentalist Ann Harvey Yonkers cooks up a summery brunch with friend and author Susan Belsinger.
  • As Ann brings brunch to the table, family dog Mia thinks it smells pretty good.
  • As Ann brings brunch to the table, family dog Mia thinks it smells pretty good.

In 1991, Ann Harvey Yonkers bought Pot Pie Farm, nine acres in Talbot County, Maryland, surrounded on three sides by the Chesapeake Bay. Knowing that how she grew food would profoundly affect the bay’s ecosystems, Yonkers—already a committed environmentalist—took sustainable farming to new ­dimensions. Her love for fresh, ­seasonal food then led her to create FreshFarm Markets (, which she codirects with Bernadine Prince. FreshFarm’s five markets—four in Washington, D.C., and one in St. Michaels, Maryland—encompass forty-seven farmers, more than 5,000 acres of farmland, and more than 90,000 customers. The group’s mission is to build and strengthen the local food movement in the Chesapeake Bay region, create vibrant urban and community places, and showcase the region’s agricultural bounty. Here’s what Yonkers has to say about the world we eat in.

Tell us about your philosophy.

Food is the most intimate relationship we have with the world—we take food into our bodies, and it becomes who we are. Choices about what we eat and who we buy it from are probably the most profound environmental decisions most of us will ever make. Choosing what we consume and who we buy it from creates a different world in terms of our health and pleasure and how our countryside looks.

My work with farmer’s markets brings together three important aspects of my life: my love of good food, my environmentalism, and my need to do meaningful work. So much environmentalism consists of telling people what’s wrong. With farmer’s markets, it’s a delicious revolution; I’m urging people to eat fabulous fresh food, to meet the farmer, and to connect with where they live.

What’s your vision?

People learning to honor the earth that gives us food and feeding themselves regionally by developing healthy farms and supporting farmers. Also, I dream of people taking pleasure in eating seasonally and locally.

What led you to do what you’re doing now?

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