Today we are pretending it is July. Are we crazy? No, actually, we are in the whirling dervish of a national magazine shoot as photographers, foods stylists, editorial assistants, make-up artists, and runners turn Green Gate Farms into a production set.
With lows in the upper 30s and wild flowers just starting to show their pretty faces, we are having to stretch our imaginations but this is how it works in the magazine business. Just about the time our Better Homes and Gardens feature hits the stands, the thermometer will be stuck at 100 degrees and the green at Green Gates will have faded to brown.
The production team began arriving Sunday and will spend the better part of the week transforming our humble farm stand and children’s garden into a picture-perfect dining experience. The writer – Janet Fletcher — and photographer – Sarah Remington — are the same incredible talent who produced our Eat Local cookbook many of you have seen here and at bookstores the past year. They are being directed by Better Homes food editor Nancy Hopkins, who flew in from her magazine’s headquarters in Des Moines, IA.
We’ve had national media visit Green Gate on several occasions but the production level and attention to detail for this shoot is eye-opening (and hopefully page opening as well). It takes a cast of at least a dozen people to pull off those mouth-watering glossy spreads that will grace the homes of 9 million readers. If you don’t believe me, here is an out-take from the editorial meeting at our dining room table yesterday: “We love happy mistakes in our food,” Nancy informs us. “Lots of tumbles, breaks, smudges, drips, banks, pools of color.”
Turns out, when readers see a “mistake” about to happen – say a big bowl of ice cream about to melt, they get stressed and lean forward into the page (and I-Pad screen in this case) to take a closer look. Voila! The reader is hooked and wants to see –and read — more.
Here at the other end of the food chain, we often aim for the opposite effect. Don’t look too close or you’ll see the worm holes in the cabbage or dirt clinging to the roots of an onion. No, we don’t like to display our mistakes and certainly never aim to be rude. As for stress, we have enough of that on the farm without having to create it (although I’ve been accused to doing that on occasion.).
When July actually comes to Texas, we will be longing for these crisp April mornings when the dew is still on the ground and the longing for tomatoes and melons is as strong as rooster’s crow. And I’m sure we will be leaning forward into the magazine and feeling a bit of stress. But certainly not as much as now. Fun, exciting stress. But stress, nonetheless.
It’s 7 a.m., that first ray of morning light is peeking over the ridge and the photographers are knocking at our door. You have to move fast in the high-end photography business – the light waits for no one. The farmer knows this well.