SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. — Every Thursday night during the summer, well-dressed patrons come to an upscale bistro and wine bar in the nation’s “summer capital.”
Nage, a popular local eatery, dishes up some of the best food in Rehoboth Beach. And each Thursday, you will find a local Delaware farmer at the restaurant.
Often uncomfortable with the limelight, local farmers come during the summer for Nage’s Farm-to-Table program. The restaurant has offered the program for the last five years.
General Manager Mark Harrison says the program is a popular one. It’s meant to bring customers closer to their food sources and help them better understand local farmers. It supports local agriculture and it also pays big dividends in freshness and flavor.
Evans Farm of Bridgeville, Del., was the featured farm on Aug. 1. Kevin and Katey Evans strolled from table to table, greeting customers and answering questions. A table laden with Evans Farm eggplants, jalapenos, sweet corn and a canary melon, was set up at the restaurant’s entrance and manned by Kevin and Katey Evans.
At one point, Kevin Evans paused to chat with the bartender, who wanted to know how to pick a good watermelon. The next few minutes were a mini education about shape, hollow heart and ripeness of one of the county’s most popular crops.
For Kevin Evans, it’s a chance to counter some of what he considers the negative publicity farmers sometimes receive. He compares growing a crop to raising a child, and his pride in local produce is evident.
The best part is “seeing the smile on people’s faces when they taste it and say it is good,” he said. “I’m very thankful for growing a good product that people enjoy. That puts a smile on my face.”
“It’s always great to answer questions from the people here,” Katey Evans said.
The Evans Farm Facebook page has a post that reads: “Once in a lifetime, you may need a doctor or a lawyer, but three times a day, you need a farmer.”
The couple were helped at the restaurant by their 10-month-old daughter, Kenna. Kenna is a blonde charmer who spent most of the night in a harness on her mom’s back.
“We grow children too,” jokes Kevin Evans.
He hopes that Kenna will be the fourth generation of Evans family to run the farm in Bridgeville.
“I hope we build a legacy in a tradition to last for many years to come,” he said.
Evans Farm is best known for its watermelons, although this year’s wet weather has hurt many local produce farmers, including the Evanses.
Nage features local produce every Thursday during the summer season from individual farms. On this night, there was produce not just from Evans Farm, but from at least three other area farmers, as well as items from a local butcher shop on the menu.
The menu included a melon salad with canary melon in a jalapeno buttermilk dressing, eggplant and mozzarella sticks with cucumber salad, and an orange tomato whip made with Evans Farm watermelon.
There was also grilled rockfish and lamb shank bolognese listed among the featured items.
Other local farms featured included Fifer Orchards, Colvine Bison Farm and Russell Farm, as well as local butcher Hickman Meats.
For more information on Nage, go to nagerestaurant.com. For more information on Evans Farm, go to evansfarmproduce.com.