Posts filed under Travels

Heritage & Cranberries: Thanksgiving Edition

Corraling Cranberries
Bog Walk

Heritage Cranberry: A Thanksgiving TraditionThis week, the majority of Americans make the journey home or to places considered home to partake in the annual traditions of feasting and the giving of thanks. A kick starter to the holiday season, one can usually find turkey, stuffing, candied yams, gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and puddings at a Thanksgiving feast. You are more than likely familiar with this menu because you have woken up with a food baby of said items from last night's dinner table and/or are getting ready to make a delicious Thanksgiving sandwich with the remaining leftovers (after some breakfast pumpkin pie). Another staple ingredient to the feast table is cranberries. Whole, canned, jellied - cranberries are the sweet and tart glue that brings turkey and all the trimmings together. Known for its perfect attendance during Thanksgiving, cranberries have also proven its staying power throughout the year in the form of dried craisins, preserves, juices, wines, chocolate-covered, and yogurt-covered variants. Not only are they delicious and harbingers of health benefits enough to classify it as a superfood, cranberries during harvest season are beyond beautiful.  I had the opportunity to visit one of the longest running cranberry and blueberry farms in New Jersey, Moore's Meadow, to learn more about the brilliantly red and nutrient rich cranberry. First meeting Neva Moore in DC during the Ocean Spray cranberry tour, she welcomed a visit to her family's farm during one of the most beautiful times of year on the farm - harvest season. The art and work of cranberries is a rich and labor intensive process. It connects all who are involved to the majesty and complexity of growing things from the earth. I also learned that the process teaches patience, discipline, resourcefulness, rhythm, and community in ways that are unique to the agricultural sector.

One of three native fruits to North America, cranberries have a multifaceted history in form and function. Referred to as sassamenesh, ibimi,bearberries, fenberries, andcraneberries at different stages in history, the contemporary moniker refers to the red fruit as cranberries. While 95 percent of the harvested fruit is turned into juices and sauces, 5 percent is sold fresh. Today, the cranberry industry is estimated to be valued at $300 million.  Though farm ownership and operation runs independently, farms like Moore's Meadow participate in Ocean Spray, a 750-farmer cooperative, that markets and distributes cranberries from farms across New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. Beginning in 1815, Moore's Meadow has been in the family for seven generations.

Cranberry Plant

Run by Sam Moore Sr., Neva Moore, and Sam Moore (Jr), these three have dedicated their lives to continuing the tradition and business. An interesting mix of sentimental heritage and business-minded grit, the long-term question of continuing the cranberry business dances between the two partners of tradition and economic profitability.Between 40-50 families grow cranberries in the Pine Barrens (or affectionately dubbed Piney's) located in southern New Jersey. The Piney's consist of 650,000 acres of sandy soil, wetlands, and pine trees perfect for digging bogs and growing berries. A heritage industry, the most potent and valuable knowledge is passed down farmer to farmer and parent to child. Day in and day out, family and staff spends considerable time together in the bogs and on the trucks. In that process year after year, pieces of the baton get handed down the line to the next generation who will continue the farm. In passing another bog at Moore's Meadow, I noticed Sam's (Jr.) son (also named Sam) out in the bog with his waders actively engaged in the harvest. Sam says that his son already knows he wants to go into the cranberry business. However, he needs to get his education first. And then, if he still wants to do this, he can come back to the farm. [gallery type="rectangular" ids="1470,1471"]

Cranberry Bog Panorama

The growing and harvesting process is quite fascinating.  The harvest season takes place in October and involves several weeks worth of long and hard work beginning each day at 6am. The harvest ends when all the bogs are cleared and barrels of berries are shipped off at the end of the month. When I asked Neva what kind of recipes she makes, Neva mentioned that one of the fun parts of the season is sending bags of raw berries to friends, family, and neighbors. And inevitably, friends, family, and neighbors always share their creations with her so she has never really had to cook or bake with the berries. 

1. Dig & Plant

First, you need enough acreage to be able to excavate bogs 5-6 feet deep and build a reliable irrigation system. Most bogs average between 4-6 acres each and take about two years to dig. Moore's Meadow has expanded from 80 acres to now include 700 acres of land (60 acres belong to cranberries while 40 belong to blueberries). Once the bog is dug in, the farmers plant the cranberry vines in rows. Sam describes the fragility of cranberry growing, "Plant as much acreage as you want but it is about the yield. It is like a baby. You can't leave it. It needs to be nurtured and the bogs need to be constantly monitored.

Crimson Queen, Mullica Queen, and Demoranville are a few of the regal sounding names of newer cranberry varietals that could pass for the labels to a fashion designer's collection. While these newer varietals boast higher output, Moore's Meadow specializes in the hybrid Stevens varietal, which produces between 300-350 barrels per acre. Once the vines are planted, it takes 5-7 years for the plant to mature for harvest. If properly cared for, the perennial vine can live and produce for up to 150 years. Sam (Jr.) talks about pruning the vines and doing their best to use every part of the plant. He says of pruning, "We use the strength that's been clipped from those vines to strengthen the new generation of fruit." Put THAT in a fortune cookie or leadership book. Profundity is found in the simplest of statements and this is just fact for them.

2. Flood & Beat

Once the vines are mature, each bog is flooded in sequence using a grid of canals. The bog is filled with water and an egg beater vehicle goes down row by row gently prodding the berries off the vine. The result of the egg beater is that the berries are picked off the vines and the natural air bubble that exists inside all cranberries helps the cranberries float to the surface of the water.

In addition to the egg beater, farmers dress in waterproof waders and wellies to help guide the harvest. I found there to be an interesting connection between harvesting gear designed with function in mind and the fashion industry's take on form and function with thigh high boots to give attitude, longer lines, and warmth to one's legs during the wintry seasons.

3. Harvest & Sort

Cedar Wood_IMG_7332

Once the cranberries are let loose and afloat, the farmers bring wooden planks made out of cedar wood and create a ring (diamond, pentagon, hexagon) around the berries. The planks are used as a shifting ring to push and gather the cranberries onto the conveyer belt.

The conveyer belt lifts the berries into a processor and cleaning machine where they are sorted, separated from the chaff (leaves, twigs, debris) and then moved onto the loading truck. Sam Moore Sr. built the conveyer belt/cleaning machine combo to efficiently sort the berries from the chaff and ensure that they were sending off true barrels of berries.

The bog that we witnessed being harvested was approximately 6.5 acres and yielded about 1700 barrels of cranberries. Sam Moore Sr. indicated that 2012 was a very good year and to date, 2013 has been a respectable harvest. In the video below, you can see how Sam helps the cleaning machine along using a cedar plank to feed the cranberries into the sorter. The chaff falls off into collection buckets and basically anywhere the wind takes it creating a thick layer of dust and debris on the truck and ground below. The cranberries are loaded on a giant truck and carted off to the receiving station.

4. Ship & Send

Cranberries Through the Sorter

Dry harvested cranberries are sold whole at market. Wet harvested cranberries (majority of Moore's Meadow berries) are frozen at the receiving station and then turned into jellies, sauces or craisins.  When asked about Moore's Meadow's legacy and why Sam Moore (Jr) continues the family business, he knows he is part of a generations-deep tradition but the lineage isn't what gets him up in the morning. Rather, it is a cranberry juice cocktail of drive to see profitability longterm, the satisfaction of hard work and accountability that comes with the territory, and a genuine admiration and affection for his father. Sam points to a fire that occurred in 1954 which destroyed a ton of acreage. He also described how he saw his father revive every inch of the land to build it to what it is today. Sam firmly believes that you have to want it, to want the work and the land. Sam says, "There are moments of glory and moments where you want to throw in the towel for the right price and right circumstances. But this is my life. This is really a labor of love."

Cranberry Study_IMG_7412

Travels: Pura Vida Vintage

During the #downsouthtour earlier this month, Tiffany and I stumbled upon this vibrant barn boutique in Nashville called Pura Vida Vintage. Located on Music Row and with an online store, PVV launched a soft opening in preparation for its grand reopening on August 20. A convergence of vintage passion meets bespoke tailoring, PVV is the Music Row partnership of Krystle Ochsner Ramos and Aaron McGill. A singer in the music industry for 15 years with a decade of corporate experience, Krystle is the owner of PVV and has combined forces with Aaron McGill of Only One Tailoring.

Believing that no one should wear sloppy vintage, PVV offers onsite tailoring, customizing the clothing to customers' body types and measurements. Enamored with the colorful racks full of decades of styles in shoes, tops, dresses and more, I purchased a floor-length B&W Polka Dot Sundress and a Watercolor Sundress among other pieces. Having the opportunity to shoot with them in the right settings, I was also fortunate enough to learn more about PVV's vision and unique fingerprint on the Nashville fashion scene from a recent conversation with Krystle.

PVV combines tailoring with vintage. Explain a bit more and how you feel this is a unique offering in Nashville. 

Since vintage clothing is not only one of a kind, but generally cut very differently than clothes made today, offering onsite alterations is kind of a no brainer! I was fortunate enough to meet Aaron, who works with many stylists and country music artists, so he's incredibly talented. There are no other vintage clothiers in Nashville that offer the service onsite with a full time alterations specialist.

What was PVV before the merge?

I began selling vintage online about a year ago and decided to open a brick and mortar store shortly thereafter in March. Only One Tailoring was started by Aaron's mother over a decade ago. He has since taken over the business and has been in the Music Row location for three years. Aaron had been wanting to open a vintage showcase in his location but didn't want to compete with me. He approached me a few months ago and we decided to move the store to his location and work together to bring both of our businesses more visibility and revenue.

How do you feel your location on Music Row sets you apart from other vintage shops?

Being the only vintage clothing store on Music Row is a definite advantage, simply because of the location in relation to the music industry and tourist volume. Being in the red barn building is also interesting because before it was a barn, it was a house dating back to the 1880s. My shop is part of the original about vintage! I try to make it feel like an upscale boutique rather than a hippie head or costume shop.

Describe your personal style.

Well, because I'm a singer and am very comfortable onstage, I don't mind wearing stuff that's a little crazy or avant garde, like an 80s futuristic looking jumpsuit with patent leather booties. Okay, that's my alter ego. My daytime style is boho comfort. I love 70s maxi dresses, lace, and hats. My parents were hippies so I guess that explains it.

What is your favorite piece in your store?

An early 60's Travilla White Sunburst Pleated Gown (Travilla was Marilyn Monroe's main designer). This dress is so meticulously made, it's crazy. Also, a black sheer yoke LBD (little black dress) from the 50s with a satin skirt. It's just incredibly tailored and fits me to a "t."

Where do you source the vintage pieces?

I do a lot of thrifting in more rural stores; go on out of town shopping excursions with my mom in Eastern, WA and Tempe, AZ; as well as online auctions and estate sales. I also do some consignment with a few people who have an excellent eye for vintage. They are like buyers for me really!

If you could style any musician or celebrity, who would it be?

Oh my, this is difficult. I would love to style Hayden Panettiere, simply because she's adorable and so tiny, she would actually fit into every gorgeous piece I have!

What is your favorite thing about owning PVV? 

The or lose, I call the shots! I am okay with making mistakes and learning from them.

Pure Vida Vintage B&W Polka Dot Sundress

"Local or visiting Nashville?"Plan your visit @ 19 Music Square West. See site for hours. "Shop Online" @"Connect" @ Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Viva la vintage friends!

Travels: Sweet Southern Hospitality #Downsouthtour Recap Pt. 2

Nashville Photoshoot

Travels: Sweet Southern Hospitality #Downsouthtour Recap Pt. 2 If you missed Part 1 of the summer #downsouthtour, you can read it here. Onward and westward with a sunny day ahead of us, Tiffany and I headed from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Meeting up with our friends Victoria and TJ, we perused a few shops on Frazier Avenue, stopped for a quick bite at Mojo Burrito, and viewed the revitalization happening on Main Street.

Tiffany's show that night was at Highland Park in a large, unfinished garage on an open lot. Hosted by a group of artists called "Flock With Me," the show was packed with young, punk, artistic people. Tiffany performed an upbeat set on guitar and keys alongside another musician, poetry and spoken word. Sincere and searching, the Flock With Me group is earnest in their desire to freely create and have fun while doing it.

The next day, we drove to our final city - the musical town of Nashville. Arriving in the early afternoon, we stopped at a few shops on Woodland Street (will post more on this later in the week) before heading to the Listening Room Cafe. The Listening Room is a great venue on 2nd avenue that prolifically showcases artists - from blues, country, pop, acoustic folk, etc.

Tiffany performed that night in a writer's round with Jenn Bostic, Phil Barton, and Emily Shackleton. Each artist performed an alternating song list featuring their unique styles and where appropriate provided harmonies on each other's songs. Jenn even had a musician and friend of hers come out to accompany each artist on the cahone. It was a fun night that engaged a crowd of over 50 strong. Feedback, sweet meetings and reunions, and CD sales flowed thereafter. Dinner, drinks, good conversation, and a restful stay at Jenn's place in the Gulge area was the perfect way to cap the tour.

Farewell at the Airport

A full day ahead of us, Tiffany and I toured around Nashville driving through the main strip and Music Row. We visited a vintage shop set to reopen this week (will post more on this later), did a photo shoot in the afternoon, and then grabbed lunch before my flight back to DC. The #downsouthtour took us through four cities in five days, 1800 miles of pavement, and amazing memories. The sweetness of the trip is in part to the depth and thoughtfulness that our hosts showed in welcoming us to their homes. Traveling long distances, it meant a great deal to receive such enormous hospitality. It taught me a lot about what it is to share hospitality and how beautiful it is when it is genuinely shared together. Pineapples aside, it was an incredible trip for both of us. Tiffany and I deepened our friendship, gained courage for next steps in both of our lives, and are excited to plan the next tour by the end of the year. Stay tuned for a post later this week on a few great spots in Nashville for vintage and contemporary fashion!

Travels: #Downsouthtour Recap Pt. 1

Clayton's Home Decor

Travels: Sweet Southern Hospitality #Downsouthtour Recap Pt. 1 Kicking off our summer music fashion tour, Tiffany Thompson and I packed our bags for a 5-day roadtrip down south from Aug 8-13th. Combining house and venue music shows with Kicheko and local shopping, we traveled through Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Covering 1800 miles, the #downsouthtourwas indelibly encouraging, fun, and life-giving as we connected with a diverse set of communities.

Our first stop was Chattanooga, Tennessee to connect with friends who moved away from DC one year ago. They showed us warm hospitality preparing the guest bedroom, goodie baskets, a full coffee pot the next morning, and time to do some work in their light-filled living room before we hit the road the next morning.

We then made our way to Florence, Alabama to play a house show as well as visit a childhood friend of mine and her husband in their home, which is about 5 minutes drive from John Paul White of the Civil Wars. The house show turned "We are One" festival drew an energetic crowd of many ages as well as food and jewelry vendors. Chairs and pillows set up, displays smoothed out, and guitar tuned, Tiffany belted out a beautiful and engaging performance. Folks enjoyed the performance so much that at the end of the show we did a soul train followed by more merchandise sales. The support and encouragement we received was a perfect start to the tour. The next day, we visited the Billy Reid flagship store. Read it here.

The next stop was Atlanta, Georgia for a picturesque house show, originally slated for an outdoor performance on the terraced lawn. With a setup staged just so, we went inside to change and then...the downpour. Scrambling to save the keyboard, guitar, PA equipment, and merchandise from the rain; we made a series of barefoot runs with the help of our hosts and managed to do a quick re-setup indoors.

The show must go on of course. Our hosts drew in a vibrant and young audience that night. As much there for the music as for tasty wine, light fare, and each other's company, the audience was a tight knit community that whole-heartedly threw its support and good nature behind us. Kicheko was a hit and the audience asked Tiffany to perform well past midnight as we transitioned to the outdoor court where the show was originally envisioned.

Staying up late into the night chatting with our hosts, we shared many a cheers reflecting on the wins of the tour halfway through and thoughts on friendship and the complexities of love. Probably, the best part of our Atlanta night was the impromptu singalong where Jeremy got on keys, Jebb on the guitar, and Tiffany on mic. We sang Billy Joel, Beatles, Rolling Stones - it was joyous and reminded me of my adolescence at summer camps in Scotland where the whole camp would gather round for a hearty and boisterous singalong in the main marquee.

While in Atlanta, we visited Sid Mashburn and Ann Mashburn. Husband and wife as well as business collaborators, their stores are connected to one another in the Warehouse District. Sid displaying a well-polished, well-traveled, and playful store contrasts nicely with Ann's, which presents a brightly-lit space, classic lines, and splashes of sophisticated elements from African beads, coffee table books, and an inspiration wall. Our time in Atlanta was both fun-filled and restful, giving us an extra kick to tackle the rest of the miles and the cities left on the bill. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the recap where I will share about Chattanooga, Nashville, and the rest of the tour.

Maven Style: Billy Reid Flagship

Billy Reid Florence Store - Tiffany trying on shoes

Traveling to the small but musical and entrepreneurial town of Florence, Alabama, I wanted to visit the Billy Reid store on Court Street. Having a Billy Reid just open in Georgetown in DC, I wanted to connect the dots and see where it all got started - take in the context of this lesser known town that has been home and headquarters to Billy Reid since 2002.

Billy Reid describes his line as "low-fi, Southern bred luxury," which gives his clothing a well-crafted but accessible quality - almost like the clothes don't take themselves too seriously. When you enter his stores, you realize there is more to being a Southern belle or gentleman than just the threads on your back or the leather on your shoulder. It's a lifestyle, a pace of life - influenced by relationships, values, music, travel, history, etc.

Each store carries on a storied aesthetic of reclaimed architectural pieces, rich woods, industrial chic elements, and a collection of heirlooms and trinkets that give context to Billy Reid and his influences. Gold-rimmed porcelain plates surrounding a taxidermic antlered deer head; branches of fluffy cotton; jars of grommets and hardware; framed photos of family and travels; and racks made of plumbers pipe and crocheted wire. Displayed throughout the store with antique sofas and chairs, warm lighting fixtures, high ceilings, classic crown moldings - the store creates an inviting atmosphere and gives a glimpse into the eye and intention of Billy Reid.

Billy Reid 4

We were fortunate to chat with the Florence staff and get a tour behind the retail front of house. I was curious to see the design studio upstairs; however, it was currently under construction. Our tour included one of the design areas, stock room, photo studio for web/catalog shoots, and kitchenette where staff can make themselves a drink and gather round the table during breaks.

Personally, I prefer a well-tailored feminine/sensual aesthetic mixed with edgier/eclectic and boho-chic elements but I do have a great appreciation for the authenticity of Billy Reid's palate from clothing design to store design. The classic lines, quality fabrics and leathers, and all too rare nowadays American manufacturing is a wonderful statement that characterizes Southern style.

Posted on August 12, 2013 and filed under Maven Style, Travels.