Preparing produce for Proof on Main is part science and part chance.
Much depends on the whims of Mother Nature to determine which plants will thrive and make their way into the kitchen. While Proof gleans its produce from a variety of local purveyors, Woodland Farm, owned by 21c founders Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, has long been a provider of the farm-fresh ingredients that you’ll discover on the menus at Proof.
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Goshen Kentucky, Woodland Farm uses sustainable growing practices to cultivate high-quality produce with an intent to work with nature, not overpower it. Horticulturist Stephanie Tittle meets with Proof on Main executive Chef Levon Wallace roughly twice a year to hone a vision for upcoming menus. Before a planting season begins, the two will collaborate to balance the restaurant’s needs with what Woodland can produce.
Once a culinary framework is in sight the work begins, all starting in the greenhouse. Seeds are propagated using long benches that run warm water through tubes that stretch the length of each bench. The greenhouse itself is kept cool to ensure the plants do not grow too quickly. These plants will never be treated by harsh pesticides or insecticides; instead, biological controls are used, rendering produce one can safely taste right in the greenhouse (we’ve sampled plenty!) Once seedlings are large enough, they are transplanted into a larger container until they are eventually laid in the ground and then harvested and taken to Proof.
This season, Woodland Farm is providing different varieties of tomatoes and onions as well as herbs like basil and everyone’s southern favorite, okra. And because one isn’t enough, there are two varieties of kale being cultivated: Red Russian and Lacinato. Proof will also collect Champion collards and peppery Nasturtium thanks to the farm. Produce deliveries typically take place twice a week depending on what’s available. On the current lunch and dinner menus you’ll find Woodland’s nutrient rich kale in the Braised Farm Greens side dish or, if you’re more of a meat lover, get a taste of the nasturtium atop our NY Steak entrée.
Woodland Farms also creates the window box planters you may have seen lining the outdoor patio. This Spring you can look for Bay plants with leaves the chefs can easily clip and incorporate into their dishes. This year the bay planters will also be wreathed in thyme- talk about fresh ingredients!