To Eat: A Country Life
by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 194 pages, $25.
IN EARLY 1970, when Joe Eck and his partner Wayne Winterrowd moved from Boston to Pepperell, Massachusetts, and into a 211-year-old farmhouse surrounded by wooded land and a vegetable garden, they saw myriad possibilities, and they were excited. They’d always wanted to be country gentlemen, and finding this house was a great stroke of luck. There, they discovered gardening tricks and delighted in experimenting with new crops. And they ate.
Then, after a “glorious year” in Copenhagen, the couple moved back to Boston and started a “victory garden” near the Fenway. In 1974, they moved out to a house on 28 acres of weeds and woods in southern Vermont, named their estate North Hill, and set about making gardens, arbors, and meals. They planted four different kinds of apple trees, each “near sticks” when put into the ground. Those trees yield snacks and ultimately pies and sauce. Their spinach crop was good, but not as good as what they had in Pepperell; then again, spinach is tricky. Beets were used for salads and sides; carrots were found wild and cultivated; roadside “weeds” became meals unto themselves. They grew some unusual kinds of potatoes and were happy to see their favorites become national staples.