In March of 2014, after five years of friendship and food-filled travel together, my farmer-friend Maggie Keith and I decided to start a podcast. I was in the process of transforming my cooking blog experience into a freelance writing career, making me the requisite “foodie,” and Maggie had been plotting the course of her family’s grassfed beef and biodynamic farm, Foxhollow Farm, since 2006. We chattered incessantly about cooking and entertaining while teaching one another our designated trades, Maggie serving as my recipe testing guinea pig while she would delight the city-girl in me with various farm chores. The concept of “The Farmer and The Foodie” came to us as naturally as the food grown on the farm, requiring nothing but love and a heaping dose of hard work to flourish. Two-and-a-half years later, we can hardly believe how our little project — which, in its nascent stage, consisted of me, Maggie, a laptop and a cheap microphone — has grown into a pilot program that premiered on KET in August.
The experience of filming a television show was as exhilarating as it was exhausting and is a process that is so much more than simply smiling for the camera. The process of moving from radio to video began long before the cameras started rolling and, in many ways, it feels as if we have been preparing for this leg of the journey since day one. Maggie and I co-host a weekly radio show on Crescent Hill Radio on Sundays at 1 p.m. EST and have honed our penchant for banter during this process, each bringing a new topic to the table every week — taking care not to discuss the topics in advance, ensuring the conversation remains fresh. Over the past two years, I have come to feel incredibly comfortable in the Crescent Hill studios, looking at the recording process as a time to catch up with my sweet friend rather than work. I did not realize how well this would serve us when the cameras were turned our way, any sense of awkwardness dissipating quickly as we slid into our inherent roles of Farmer and Foodie.
After a year on the radio, we were ready to take things to a new place and had been daydreaming out loud about a television version of our radio program. But how to begin that process was completely lost on us. Enter George Barrett, Maggie’s brother and the founder and co-owner of Homepage Realty. George approached us with the idea to film Maggie and me cooking in the homes he was selling, offering potential buyers a snapshot of the functionality and features of each home’s kitchen. This gave us the chance to move from talking about filming in the kitchen to actually doing it and we were able to practice sharing the stage and cooking together in a way we never had. George and the Homepage Realty team gave us the confidence and nudge to press on with what we had been looking for and their videos also happened to catch the eye of a local producer/director and mutual friend, Kiley Parker, of Parker Lane LLC. Kiley, Maggie and I gathered over lunch to brainstorm where we were and where we hoped to go. With Kiley’s extensive experience and knowledge of the television industry, we began to lay out plans to film our pilot episode, a self-funded venture that Kiley and her colleagues were generous enough to help us do on a shoestring budget.
So much had to be done before Kiley could call “action.” There was a website to build, social media accounts to create and manage, intro videos to shoot, a show outline to write, a budget to establish … With Kiley’s help we managed to have everything in place before our scheduled shoot date of April 20.
On that day, we met at Foxhollow bright and early, the camera crew already out in the field capturing the sunrise and early morning light washing over the farm. Some shots of Maggie working in her greenhouse were gathered first thing, as well, before we headed to one of the homes on Foxhollow’s grounds that would serve as our kitchen for the pilot. The kitchen at this home was ideal for shooting in terms of layout and amenities; however it needed to be dressed with a few items to make sure it reflected our style. Several boxes of kitchen accessories and props were lugged from cars into the space and we all worked as one to dress the set — with Kiley and her team checking shots along the way and making small but important adjustments as we went.
While it would seem that 12 hours is ample time to film a 20-minute show, that is decidedly not the case, and the running, adjusting, prepping, shooting and re-shooting made the day fly by. So many lessons were learned during that day of filming — like how long it actually takes to film an individual dish being made, how to talk and walk naturally in the woods without falling on your face and that, no matter what, when filming you will always be chasing the sun. Post-production is not for the faint of heart and Kiley compiled hours of footage into the episode we were so proud to present to KET, which aired over multiple dates in August and September and is currently available on our website. The entire experience was thrilling and one Maggie and I are excited to perfect as we continue to nurture and push forward with “The Farmer and The Foodie.”
Maggie and I are now working to find partners to help us produce a full season of “The Farmer and The Foodie,” with plans to begin filming in the spring of 2017. Our goal is to highlight the seasons of our beautiful state of Kentucky, bringing the changing colors of the farms throughout the Bluegrass to the viewer, along with the various fresh vegetables and fruits that accent each passing month along the way. We are bursting with recipes to share and are excited to introduce a plethora of local farmers, purveyors and artisans to our audience. We simply can’t wait to continue to promote our love of growing, cooking, sharing and savoring good, clean, fair food.
Our little seedling of a show has taken strong root and the sky’s the limit in terms of how far she can grow. You can find out more about “The Farmer and The Foodie” and watch the pilot episode on our website, thefarmerandthefoodie.com. Salud!