Educating kids about food, from source to plate

Meet Anthony Dye, Atwater’s Farmer

Atwaters Farm 1

by Rich Kolm, Days of Taste Program Coordinator, TasteWise Kids

For this week’s blog post, we pay a visit to Atwater’s farm. Their farmer Anthony Dye and I worked together at Big City Farms back in the day and it was great to get to visit him at his current farm.

Atwater’s is also a great supporter of TasteWise Kids. This past month, in honor of May being National Salad month, they ran a salad promotion where we got a portion of the proceeds from the “TasteWise Kids salad” on their menu. Thanks to the more then $2,000 raised from by Atwater’s, we will be able to send more students home with a “take-home salad kit” this fall to extend learning to their families.

Their farm is located on the same site as the main production and catering kitchen for the Atwater’s chain of restaurants, in the southwest corner of Baltimore City. This gives Anthony a tremendous set of advantages as a grower. For cold storage, he has access to the large walk in refrigerators in the kitchen just feet away from his farm. Instead of spending time driving to make deliveries, he can piggyback on the existing distribution network for the chain, where a truck goes out every day at 2am that can carry orders for him. And where other farmers have to spend time at farmer’s markets to sell their crops, the produce Anthony grows all goes to the Atwater’s system. This allows him to spend his time focusing on maximizing his productivity on the site he operates. “If I had to distribute stuff this would be too crazy,” he said.

Much of what Anthony grows is lettuce, kale, and other greens for their salads. His favorite crop is lacinato kale. “I like to eat it raw in salads, it looks nice, it’s nice to work with, and it tastes good,” he said. The bed of lacinato he’s been harvesting recently is pictured to the right.

The farm was founded in 2015 by Sam Malriat. He’d been working as a baker in the Atwater’s kitchen, but had interviewed at Big City farms (where he met Anthony) and been offered a job there. When Sam told Ned Atwater he was leaving to take a job on a farm and Ned asked if he’d rather just build one for Atwater’s. He was excited for the chance. Then, when Sam left in 2016 Anthony was looking for a job and he came on as the grower. In addition to salad greens, Anthony is growing a lot of tomatoes and herbs, including a whole bunch of thyme and rosemary. Anthony is actually planning on tearing out some of his perennial herb beds, as he only ever harvests a fraction of the herbs he has, and he could always use more space to grow lettuce!

Here’s a little gif I made of him hoeing his late tomatoes as we talked. Even when they’re talking it’s hard to keep farmers from their work!

And here’s a shot I took of that shows the two greenhouses and most of the outdoor beds:

What a great farm. Stop by one of Atwater’s locations to taste some of their home-grown produce.